In Washington, D.C., no organized group offers a ministry to homosexuals who want to change. But the seeds for such an effort were sown throughout a four-year pilgrimage by Judy Lowry, a 34-year-old seminary student who reluctantly answered an insistent call from God.

Knowing nothing about homosexuals, Lowry seemed to meet them at every turn. She was touched by their compulsive need to talk to someone and their isolation from families who had sent them packing.

Lowry accompanied a gay friend to a bar one evening in 1979. At the bar, she says, she experienced “an incredible need to be there and to share with them. I had to go back.”

Inside the small, garishly lit bar, someone asked the inevitable question: “What are you doing here?” She mentioned her interest in counseling and her Christian faith and added, “I think you guys need someone to talk to.” In a matter of weeks, after prayer and affirmation from her mother and pastor Louis Evans of National Presbyterian Church, Lowry’s tentative trips to the bar became an eight-hour-a-day ministry.

She dropped out of Wesley Theological Seminary and studied volumes of material about homosexuality. She approached the issue with no preconceived ideas apart from a vague awareness that the Bible did not condone the practice.

“I entered this ministry totally open to what the Lord would give me,” she recalls. “I did not know if this lifestyle could be part of his plan, or if these people truly experienced contentment in their choices.” Many questions remain unanswered, but Lowry is certain now of one thing: “This lifestyle is simply out of sync with God’s plan and purpose. In the very best of circumstances, even in attempted monogamous relationships, there was always a sense of something missing, of frustration and lack of fulfillment.”

The dark side of gay life was evident to Lowry in the bars she visited. The bars are painted in dark tones, unlit and unannounced on the outside. Inside, more dark paint is punctuated harshly by flashing, pulsating lights and graphic posters or movies depicting male sexuality.

In corridors upstairs or in back rooms, gay men engage in promiscuous sex acts with a variety of partners. Besides living under the shadow of deadly Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), gays contract bowel disorders and venereal diseases far more frequently than heterosexuals.

“These men always seemed to be consumed in guilt and unrest—often well hidden, but always there,” Lowry says. “Even with the ever-increasing acceptance of society, they could not seem to accept or be comfortable with themselves.”

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Lowry confined her ministry to the male homosexual community because she felt she had no rapport with lesbians. Almost every man she met had a strong church background and would initiate conversations about God, still clinging to shreds of his former faith.

One bartender loaned her a cassette tape. On it was a recording of a church choir performance in which he had soloed before he announced his homosexuality and left home. “He wanted me to know he was a Christian,” Judy said. “Then he talked about his youth group friends. He was incredibly sad.”

Judy’s attempts to counsel the young man ended when he abruptly left town, reinforcing a pattern of drifting from one gay community to the next when life turned sour.

In another case she helped restore family ties that were shattered by homosexuality. Ed (not his real name) met Lowry after being rejected by his parents. Lowry telephoned his parents and offered to visit them. Over the course of two days, she spent 20 hours answering their questions, calming fears, and holding out hope.

Before leaving their home, she told Ed’s mother to write a note to her son, even if all she could say was “From Mom.” In the morning she handed Lowry a small, sealed envelope. When Ed received it he called home and reestablished a strained line of communication.

Eventually Ed recognized the destructive effects homosexuality was having on his life and began the arduous process of repudiating the lifestyle. Without loving support from his family, Lowry believes he never would have tried to change.

Lowry urged her gay friends to develop social outlets away from the sexually charged bar scene. When a number of them formed a bowling league, they made her their treasurer.

Her involvement with homosexual ministry gave her hope about the possibility of seeing normal life patterns restored in cases where homosexuals are motivated to change and have relationships to support and sustain them in the process. Yet she despairs at the increasing magnitude of the problem. In less than a decade, the number of organizations for homosexuals in Washington, D.C., has increased fivefold and the number of gay bars has doubled. The bowling league, which at first attracted about 20 men, involves hundreds today.

“I am convinced that the Lord loves them, waits for them, and reaches out to them,” Lowry says. “It is vitally important that we as a Christian community provide an atmosphere of love and acceptance so we do not inadvertently drive our young people toward an existence like this.”

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North American Scene

The United Methodist Church’s highest court will rule next month on a ban against the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The denomination’s Judicial Council will rule whether the ban, approved by the church’s general conference in May, is in accord with the United Methodist constitution. The ban is scheduled to take effect January 1.

The United Nations International Conference on Population adopted a recommendation that abortion “in no way should be promoted” as a family planning method. Adoption of the recommendation was seen as a victory for the United States and the Vatican. The United States earlier had announced that it would cut off family planning funds to nongovernment organizations that perform or promote abortion as a birth control method.

A population researcher says wider use of abortion is necessary to bring Third World population growth under control and avert mass starvation. Stephen Mumford, of North Carolina’s Center for Research on Population and Security, says developing countries will have to increase their abortion rates to more than 500 per every 1,000 live births. He says 16 nations already have abortion rates higher than that. The U.S. abortion rate is 426 abortions per 1,000 live births, he says.

The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in St. Louis has sold its share of an X-rated theater. Children’s home administrator Bob Kenison said efforts had been underway to sell the property since 1979, the year the theater was bequeathed to the home and nine other charitable organizations. The home’s share of the sale was approximately $31,000.

Unmarried women gave birth to more than one out of every three children born in New York City last year. That ratio is triple what it was 20 years ago. Experts fear the statistic will mean increased spending for welfare, day care, police, and other social services. In 1981, Newark and Baltimore led the nation in children born to unwed mothers, with rates of 59.8 percent and 58.1 percent respectively.


The United Methodist Church has elected Leontine T. C. Kelly, 64, as its first black woman bishop. She will lead the church’s San Francisco area. Kelly previously served as chief evangelism executive of the 9.4-million-member denomination.

Millard J. Erickson has been named vice-president and dean of Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He joined Bethel’s faculty in 1969 as an associate professor of theology. He later served as chairman of the seminary’s Division of Interpretation of the Christian Faith. Erickson has written numerous articles for journals, periodicals, and dictionaries.

Former National Council of Churches (NCC) president James Armstrong is working as a Washington-based liaison between church groups and transnational corporations. Last November he resigned as NCC president and as a United Methodist bishop. In January he surrendered his credentials as a United Methodist minister.

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