Exodus International, one of the world's leading Christian ministries which worked to repress homosexuality through prayer, has closed down and apologized for "years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the church as a whole."
The group announced its closure Thursday in a letter posted to its website, citing a year-long discussion over its place in the modern Christian world as leading to the decision to shut down.
"I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change," said the ministry's President Alan Chambers.
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism," he added. "For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
Chambers himself left the gay life, which he refers to as "same-sex attraction," as a teenager, and joined Exodus in 2001. He now has a wife and two children.
In 2012, he opened a rift in the Christian community with an interview with the New York Times, during which he said there was no cure for homosexuality and that "reparative therapy" was a veneer that could cause harm to gays. >[? He said in his apology Thursday that he "conveniently omitted" his own continual same-sex attractions.
"I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today," he wrote in a statement. "They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does."
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard," said Tony Moore, one of the board members responsible for the decision to close the ministry.
Exodus International was founded in 1976, and now has 270 local ministries around the world that have been working under the mission of "mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality."