My, how time flies! This Saturday, October 13, 2012 is the 2nd anniversary of the delivery of my most famous message in 40 years of ministry - a message entitled 'A Real Message to Real People'. That message changed a lot of things in my life and in Church In The Now, to say the least...I won't go over all the events that have transpired since that Wednesday night, but I will say, to the glory of God, that two years later I am still in full-time ministry, both as a Pastor of two congregations, CHURCH IN THE NOW EAST (Covington) and CHURCH IN THE NOW MIDTOWN (Atlanta)...actually, three congregations if you count CHURCH IN THE NOW ONLINE (Global), and as a Bishop (NOW MINISTRIES), and am happier and more excited about the Kingdom of God than I have ever been...and still, two full years later, hardly a day goes by without my receiving a note or letter from someone somewhere in the world about that message. Here's what I wrote about it in my new book, FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS: The Positive Truth About God, The Gospel, and What it Really Means to be Gay:
Anyway, to fast-forward the story and get to the incentive for writing this book, I finally "came out" to the whole world on Wednesday, October 13, 2010...The tape of the service went viral on the internet almost immediately after I delivered the message, became for a few days the video with the most hits on YouTube, and garnered an unbelievable amount of unexpected media exposure in the following weeks and months. The response to it was, for me, astounding. On that Wednesday night I had no plan or outline of what I wanted to say...no script or pre-meditation of it at all. Had I known beforehand that the video was going to become so high profile, I would have no doubt phrased a few things that I said that night differently, but it was what it was. But there was not one day in the following year that I didn't hear from someone somewhere in the world who wanted to thank me for it, or to tell me that it changed their perception of God or of religion or of people with same sex attraction. Atheists told me that it made them want to believe in God again. Straight people told me that it helped them come to terms with their gay friends and family members, or even with their own authenticity issues. Some gay teens told me it kept them from considering suicide, and many of their parents told me that it opened up broken lines of communication, and brought much-needed healing to their families. So even though the letter of the message wasn't perfect, the spirit of it apparently came through loud and clear, and for that I am very grateful.
You can find some reviews of the book in the previous post here on BLOGINTHENOW II...and thank you, by the way, for all of your wonderful comments!
One thing that I really appreciate about this weekend and what it means is that I had a two-fold goal of finishing the book and having it available on or before the 2nd anniversary of 'A Real Message to Real People', and also having it ready to present at Atlanta Pride, so that I could promote it there. The book came out last week (just in time), but it didn't even occur to me until a few days ago that not only had I made my goals, but that they actually fell on the same date - October 13, 2012! We had already planned on having a booth at the event to debut the book and advertise for CHURCH IN THE NOW MIDTOWN, but the fact that it's happening on the same day just really makes this Saturday something special for me!
A few days ago, when CNN asked me to do an interview on a program they were doing about religious intolerance, I told the producer that a couple of the chapters in FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS were about that very topic (actually, that theme is pervasive throughout the entire book, but chapters 3 and 12 are particularly devoted to it). She volunteered that they would be happy to promote the book, and asked for a shot of the cover, and a pdf of the material, which we immediately sent. They informed me that it was an hour-long show, and that we would be delving deeply into the topic.
And it was, in fact, an hour-long show, but my part turned out to only be for a few moments in the final segment, and all they were able to do was show the title of the book while I was talking. After the show I asked the producer why they didn't say anything about the book as promised, even though I realized that it would have been somewhat irrelevant to the direction in which the show ended up going, and that it also would have set a precedent for the Rabbi who was also interviewed with me, who is also an author.
Anyway, she said that they would have me back this weekend to talk about the book, but as of yet I haven't heard back from them. And I'm not complaining, regardless of whether or not they call for me to return today or tomorrow. I was really happy to be on the program at all for several reasons. First, even a tiny bit of exposure on global television is powerful. Even though I was on for a short amount of time, within minutes I was getting positive feedback from people around the world, including some in the Middle East, who appreciated what I had said about Muslim nations.
And I was also glad that they had me on to talk about something other than gay issues, because I'm not a gay activist...I'm a minister of the Gospel. I like to provide input on a variety of topics, so it's all good, and I greatly appreciate both Don Lemon, who has been a good friend to me, and CNN!
So...maybe I'll be on again this weekend, maybe not...I don't know yet. Either way, as I said, it's all good. But I'll definitely be at the CHURCH IN THE NOW MIDTOWN booth at Pride, signing books, and Sunday I'll be at both the 9 and 11 AM services at CHURCH IN THE NOW EAST with a really good word for you from the Gospel of Matthew.
It's a beautiful, fall weekend in Atlanta, and I'm glad to be alive and well to experience it!
I hope your weekend is excellent, as well!
God is good!