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Monday, July 28, 2008

"Joni and Friends" an Evangelical Ministry and Disability Center

I was paging through a magazine that passed through our office. I'd never seen this one before and it had a little article about this women, Joni, who had a diving accident a number of years ago and now had paraplegia and had started her own ministry, "Joni and Friends, International Disability Center. Hmmm. I thought what a strange name for a Church. So I went to the website and it sounded more like a church than a 'disability center' though the outreach seems to be to individuals with disabilities. There was a place for questions so I asked how their church felt about homosexuals. I waited for about 6 weeks. Actually I forgot all about it until tonight when I got a three page letter which I will quote in part:

"God doesn't love the homosexual any less that sic. He love anyone else. His love, compassion and forgiveness is toward all. Such behavior, however, is a departure from God's expressed order. No matter how we may rationalize the relationships, the reference in Romans chapter I makes it clearly the product of a reprobate mind. But dont's think I'm attaching the phrase "reprobate mind" just to homosexuals-the immoral heterosexuals or prejudiced , bigoted heterosexuals-are called upon to repent of sin and no longer practice the ungodly patterns of living they have enjoyed before.
The church needs to take a hard look at her attitudes and treatment of gays and lesbians in the past. The church cannot condone homosexual life style; however, the church should begin to bring victory to those who are willing to submit their sexual orientation to Him needs to be shared... and shared in a sensitive and caring manner."

transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
rep·ro·bat·ed; rep·ro·bat·ing
Middle English, from Late Latin reprobatus, past participle of reprobare — more at reprove
15th century
1 : to condemn strongly as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil

2 : to foreordain to damnation
3 : to refuse to accept : reject
synonyms see criticize
— rep·ro·ba·tive \ˈre-prə-ˌbā-tiv\ adjective
— rep·ro·ba·to·ry \-bə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective

They then proceeded to refer me to Exodus international. I thought that a ministry that reached out to individuals with disabilities would be interesting, particularly one started with a woman with a severe disability. I think I'll skip that.


Auntie Knickers said...

I think I know about this person - wrote a book some years back -- yup, I'd skip it too.
When I was a church secretary for two GLBT-friendly churches, I'd often get phone calls from various "youth ministries" shilling for their giant rock concert events and so on. I always asked what their position was on GLBT youth and sadly, that invariably shut them right up.

Barbara B. said...

I think Joni needs to work on her own "reprobate mind"! (And I just googled Exodus International because I had never heard of them... Yikes! What a ridiculous site!)

Mary Beth said...

How excessively disappointing, but not so very surprising. I read the book about Joni many years ago and it had a big impact on me.

Sorry she takes this stand. Pah.

mid-life rookie said...

Joni and Friends offers some good resources for churches seeking to minister to and with persons with disabilities. One does not have to buy into their theology to take advantage of these resources. It is sad that a group that promotes inclusiveness for one group, accepting them as whole human beings is so limited in their thinking on others.

EmJayDee said...

Joni was an important part of my faith formation and I avidly read her books in my teens. We have a way to go to enjoy the unity that we already have in Christ but do not realise. Thank you for taking the initiative and asking the questions that aid our discernment. Blessings on you.

EmJayDee said...

Oh yes I totally agree with your comment on my blog. I'm an introvert (in the Myers-Briggs sense)and tend to have all this stuff in my head that I don't put out on paper (or screen). I was also really stung by the reply you received ESPECIALLY as it came from a person who had been so influential in my earlier faith formation. Rereading my comment I realise that was not at all clear. The kind of mixed standards are so so painful. I felt such pain and sorry I didn't express it well. Pain at our separation when we could have unity - when actually Christ offers us that unity but the invitation is refused.