PORTLAND, Ore. — On July 19, The Gay Christian Network (GCN) announced that its board of directors had reached an agreement to an amicable separation with Founder and Executive Director Justin Lee due to irreconcilable differences. This became effective on May 4.
Neither party will comment on the reasons behind the situation except to say that “it was a practical business decision intended to allow for the growth of this important work.” Lee and the board both remain allies and are committed to creating “…a world in which the next generation of LGBTQ youth will grow up fully loved and embraced by their families, churches, and neighbors; and where Christians worldwide will live up to their calling as instruments of grace and defenders of the outcast.”
In addition to this change, the organization will also be adopting a new name to reflect “the diversity of the ministry and the community” it serves. This was announced at the 2017 Conference held in Pittsburg, Pa. The change will be revealed at the 2018 Conference in Denver, Colo.
Lee started the organization in North Carolina 16 years ago. Over the years he has been an author and speaker focusing on living as an LGBTQ Christian.
In a letter to the organization, he shared that he was grateful for the support he had received and the commitment to a shared mission. “Running this organization for the last 16 years has been absolutely the most incredible experience of my life, and I will always treasure the memories and the knowledge of how we’ve changed the world together. As sad as I am to say goodbye, my hope and prayer for this organization is that it will always stay grounded in a passion for Jesus Christ and uphold an ongoing commitment to living out His light and love in all things.” He added, “As for me, I continue to feel a calling to change hearts and minds in the church for the sake of those who still don’t have that support. Even though I am no longer involved at GCN, I will still be speaking out on the issues that matter to our community and doing all I can to support those in need. I’m as passionate about this work today as I was back in 2001, when GCN was just a website I was running out of my apartment!”
He said that he would share his future plans at justinspeaks.com.
The board shared that Lee has been a pioneer in “helping LGBTQ individuals accept the truth that God loves them, just as they are. Through GCN, he helped those people find a spiritual home. Because of Justin’s dedicated work, countless lives have been changed. The Board of Directors of GCN is grateful for Justin’s years of service.”
The organization has hired an interim executive director, Isaac Arculeta, a graduate of the University of Colorado and Denver Seminary. He is a licensed professional counselor and the founder and director of the iAmClinic in Denver, Colo. which has a special focus on the needs of the LGBTQ community and their religious families. He is also the founder and co-director of the iAmProject, an initiative providing workshops, seminars, and other programs on sexuality and gender to churches, colleges and other groups, GCN said.
Archuleta’s iAmProject has also played a key role in helping influential evangelical churches become communities of faith that are fully welcoming toward the LGBTQ community, allowing people to serve at any level of church leadership.
Director of Operations Constantino Khalaf will continue to direct the GCN staff as it prepares for conference, retreats and other ongoing events.