“I have other sheep that are not of this
fold.  I must bring them in also.”  
John 10:16
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Other Sheep Collaborates with
Lutheran Seminary and Methodist Universities in Brazil
to develop significant projects -
Outgrowth of Tom Hanks' Speaking Tour to three Brazilian cites,
May 12-22, 2007

by Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sparked by one of my former students in Costa Rica
(1985), professors of gender studies and related
subjects in three Methodist universities and one
Lutheran seminary arranged for me to speak on
Homophobia and the Bible, May 12-22, in three cities
in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto
Alegre with its suburb Sao Leopoldo).  Due to last
minute opposition from two Methodist bishops,
organizers had to scramble to arrange for meetings
to be held off campus, but with the accompanying
free publicity attendance was excellent (30 profs and
120 students in the largest ones) and a 20-minute
television interview provided an opportunity to
communicate an alternate viewpoint to a wider
general public.    

In addition to speaking and teaching opportunities,
the networking resulting from the trip is leading to
Other Sheep collaboration in developing a number of
projects.  

  • University scholarships for retraining pastors
    and other religious leaders who lose their
    employment due to discrimination for their
    sexual orientation—something that
    desperately needs duplication almost
    everywhere, including the USA.
  • Lectureships that will provide dynamic
    academic spokespersons to combat
    homophobia in grade schools, high

     schools and every university discipline.  
  • Review and evaluation of library holdings
    and curriculum content in each institution.  
    My few minutes with the computer in one
    university library revealed 67 titles (mainly in
    Portuguese), much to everyone’s surprise.  
    Term papers and theses should soon result
    that will increase understanding and
    “concientización” — perhaps even lead to
    some new courses.  
  • Children’s books and literature focusing on
    Bible stories about alternate households in
    the Bible (the main kind—I have a list of 41
    possible stories for children).  Two
    professors were already at work in this area,
    but had not included any Bible stories.  
  • The formation of Other Sheep nuclei of
    professors seeking to network, strengthen
    gender-studies programs and transform
    sexual education in Brazilian institutions.  

In lectures I stressed the importance (1) of not
giving away the Bible to our adversaries in the
struggle against homophobia; (2) of not giving
away the history of the church by
ignoring/censoring countless documented heroic
alternative voices, often martyred for teaching or
incarnating alternate sexual views and practices;
(3) of not giving away today’s church to
spokespersons (especially the Vatican) who
pretend to speak for millions but often
  
Continued on page 4, Hanks in Brazil, May 2007
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Photo:  Two continents – same story.  Steve
Parelli (left) from the USA and E. Ruben
Villaverde from Argentina, compare like stories.  
Both were evangelical Baptist pastors when
they came out.
     –Mendoza, Argentina. July 27, 2006
Nothing in the World Can Make Me Turn Back
by Eduardo Ruben Villaverde
Mendoza, Argentina

I will never forget the month
of July, 2006.  It is the month
of my "Coming Out."  Up until
then my testimony would not
be very different from so
many others who after many
years of living in denial of
their sexual orientation – in
effect, living a
"double life" by acting
straight though gay - at last
experience  the liberating
power of confession and
transparency.  What was
particular in my case was I
was a pastor of a Baptist
church of a congregation of
500.  It was the church I had
founded in Mendoza,
Argentina.  I had led
                 Continued, page 2,
                   
Can't Go BacK
"Coming Out" – was disastrous.  
The unhappy marriage fed into the
worst part of me.  It became a
prison, a self-imposed sentence.

But on that July day, I experienced
a deep inward brokenness that
unleashed within me a strength that
led me to stand before my brothers
and sisters in Christ and openly
speak my truth, my struggle and my
desire.  I am a gay Christian man.

The reactions were various, but
that did not matter to me. For the
first time in my life I was not seeking
to please everyone.  Instead, I was
trying to be
the church for almost 15 years with
great blessings.

The price for continuing this "I'm-
straight" farce was costly.  I paid
dearly in terms of mental, emotional,
and spiritual health.  The good
results that were accomplished
through pastoral labor were always
obscured by my own personal
anguish as a gay man acting
straight.  The anguish grew worse
from day to day.  I felt trapped in a
labyrinth which seemed impossible
to exit.

I had married after about three
years into my pastorate.  The 12
year marriage – right up to my
myself, to receive the healing that I
had so many times preached to
others, to start a new day.

The consequences for this
transparency were terrible.  The
religious “machine” was unalterable
as always and for the next few
weeks they declared me a “lost
cause” and turned me over to the
“hands of Satan” (a very interesting
interpretation of 1 Corinthians 5).

This July marks my first "Coming
Out" anniversary.  Things have not
been easy.  I still find myself without
work and my finances are in the
red. Most of my brothers and sisters
in Christ and most of my friends
have disappeared… but nothing in
the world would make me turn back.
I have regained joy. I have hope.  
And what is more important, I know
that God's love for me is
unconditional.  Nothing can be
worse than what I have already
lived and experienced.   By faith I
go forward, uniting my heart with so
many others who have also made
the long journey from night to day.  
May God, our Liberator, bless us.

Editor's note: E. Ruben Villaverde, prior to
and following his coming out,  found great
help in Tom Hanks and others of Other
Sheep in Buenos Aires.  Upon learning
that Steve was a Baptist minister like
himself and was visiting Argentina
(2006), he requested a meeting.  
Jose
and Steve spent two wonderful days with
Ruben in Mendoza, July 28 & 29, on their
way to Chile.
Continued from page 1, Can't Go Back:  Argentine Baptist Pastor - One Year After Coming Out
Other Sheep resource materials can be found at www.othersheep.org,
www.fundotrasovejas.org.ar  and www.othersheepexecite.com and may
be freely copied and reprinted.  Copied materials should indicate their
source and be distributed free of charge. For address removal, correction
or addition, contact
Steve Parelli, Executive Director, at
sparelli2002@yhaoo.com or by direct mail at 2962 Decatur Ave. 5D, Bronx,
NY 10458. Home/Business Phone:  718-360-0884
Financial gifts may be sent to Other Sheep
c/o Gordon I. Herzog
16768 Old Jamestown Rd.,
Florissant, MO 63034
email:  GIHerzog@othersheep.org

Financial gifts to the Kenya Project may be made
by credit card through PayPal
_______________________________________________________________________
Other Sheep News is published quarterly by Other Sheep and is compiled and edited by Steve Parelli.  John Doner
is assistant editor.  Other Sheep is Multicultural Ministries with Sexual Minorities, working world wide in an
ever-expanding variety of languages, cultures and LGBT concerns, to share the good news that God loves all gay,
lesbian bisexual and transgendered persons just as they are and calls them into inclusive, gay-affirming, Christian
communities.
                    I would love to continue the vital work
                          of  Other Sheep  by donating…

__$500.00     __$250.00     __$100.00    __ $50.00    Other $_______

Please designate my gift for the following fund(s):

$___________  General Fund

$___________  Whitehall Memorial Fund     (Latin American Ministries)

$___________   Tom Hanks Buenos Aires Ministry Fund

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Maranatha and Others
Lead GAY Parade, NYC

Sixteen years ago, Tom Hanks, reporting on "the
turbulent 1991 meeting in Mexico" of the worldwide
leaders of the International Lesbian and Gay
Association, noted that leaders "were asked what their
biggest obstacle was. Without exception they replied in
various ways, 'Religion!' 'And what are you doing to
address the problem?' Most replied 'Nothing, because
I'm not religious.'
More and more non-religious gay activist organizations
are intelligently and compassionately addressing
religion.
This year in New York City, the annual gay pride parade
was led by religious groups.  Maranatha of The
Riverside Church once again participated with a grand
float featuring a free standing rainbow.              
                                               –Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY
Photo: Partners Carol Lee (center) & Dr. Juanita Kirton (right) with her son
Terreyl Kirton and his aunt Cecile Kirton (left).  Maranatha Float.  NYC Pride
Parade, June 2007.
Jose smiled at me as I sheepishly
looked at him out of the corner of
my eye, slightly tilting my head his
way.  Kenya and a summer of
ministry with LGBTs were on both
our minds. He, too, was a lover of
mission. His undergrad studies
were in mission.

I felt his touch on my back.  The
touch I had earnestly prayed for.  
Daily, over the course of three
years, I had pleaded with God in
the early morning hours for the
loving touch of a man.  In 1997, I
met Jose.

How many other gay Christians
pray similar prayers?  
I will hold
your people in my heart
are, for
me, those marginalized people the
world over whom the church has
rejected; they are known and loved
by God. Collectively, as gay
Christians, it is perhaps for us to
hold them in our hearts, and go, if
we can, to them.

As the chorus filled the sanctuary
one last time, Jose and I made our
way to the pulpit. The hymn was
still stealing my heart, but I was
resolved.  No tears now.  We
waited at the pulpit until the music
subsided.  Then one small, weak
voice lifted itself:  mine  . . . "Our
Hebrew Bible Reading is taken
from . . ."

mentally pictured myself, someday,
somehow, investing myself in the
purchase and distribution of
religious books on topics relating
to homosexuality and Christianity.  
My vision was very local.  As a
former Baptist minister, I wanted to
speak to my own fellowship of
churches, the General Association
of Regular Baptist Churches.  I
wanted to put a face on
homosexuality.  

But now, six years later, my partner
and I were a mere ten days away
from departing for Kenya, East
Africa, where together with
Emmanuel Kamau, we would
distribute the same kind of
literature I had mentally pictured I
would distribute in up state New
York.  I had imagined none of this
in 2001 when I had asked
Is it I
Lord?

I have heard you calling
in the
night riveted in my soul.  I
continued to dry my face with the
napkin my partner had lovingly
pressed into my hand. How
appropriate the night.  It was my
darkest hour, 2001, when the call
was gently embraced.  I had been
defrocked; completely alienated
from family; disenfranchised from
my fellow pastor-peers; locked out
of my calling and career.  Yet, in
this,
my night, I heard a call.
When we came to the words of
the chorus of the hymn "Here I
Am, Lord," a flood gate of tears
suddenly and silently streamed
down my face.

    Here I am Lord.
    Is it I Lord?
    I have heard you calling in the  
        night.
    I will go Lord, if you lead me.
    I will hold your people in my  
       heart.

This was not the time to lose
one's composure.  It was Pride
Sunday 2007 at The Riverside
Church and my partner, Jose,
and I were next in the order of
worship.  We were to step to the
pulpit together and publicly read
the Hebrew Bible Lesson, each
reading alone his part, the
passage having been divided
between us.

The words of the chorus gripped
my heart, each phrase capturing
that one single moment in my life
when I had asked
Is it I Lord? In
2001, I was working as a
paralegal in a huge law firm in
Rockefeller Center when I
"Gay Nigerians know what we believe.  We need to know
how to defend it.  Send us the books." – Davis Mac-Iyalla
asked that I keep the conversation
light and not talk business:  "Let him
relax after his long flight."  I agreed.
After Mac-Iyalla and I had gotten a
bite to eat and were on the road
cutting across Brooklyn towards
Manhattan, to my delight he asked
about getting the books to Africa, the
topic I had introduced more than a
year ago at Geneva.
Jesus MCC of Indianapolis, Indiana,
and Other Sheep are in the process
of getting copies of The Children Are
Free to LGBT groups in Africa.
"Gay Nigerians know what we
believe," he said.  "We need to know
how to defend it.  Send us the
books."
by Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY
After meeting Davis Mac-Iyalla,
director of Changing Attitude
Nigeria, for the first time at the 2006
ILGA (International Lesbian and
Gay Association) World Conference
in Geneva, Switzerland, I had the
privilege, as a party of one, of
welcoming him at the New York City
JFK airport upon his first visit to the
United States, Wednesday, May 14,
2007.
He was here by invitation of the
Episcopal Church for a speaking
tour in the States on the topic of gay
rights in Nigeria.
Mac-Iyalla's USA tour-host had
Davis Mac-lyalla, director of
Changing Attitude Nigeria (left)
with Bishop Gene Robinson
Go to www.othersheep.org and scroll down to "New Web Pages and
Current Notes of Interest at Other Sheep"
for a full coverage of Davis
Mac-Iyalla's visit to
The Church of the Holy Apostles and related articles of
Nigeria and Changing Attitude, the Anglican ministry to LGBTs.
A Manhattan law firm; a
hymn; & Kenya, Africa

by Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY
Photo at Left
Auditorium of
Pueblo Nuevo
Fundacion
Cristiana, home
to a  Baptist
congregation of
about 500 at the
time their pastor,
E. Ruben
Villaverde, "came
out" to them.
    July 2006.   
     Mendoza,  
     Argentina
______________________________________________________________________________________
Steve, Executive Director, and Jose, Coordinator for
Africa, leave for Kenya, July 3, and return August 25
Some changes for the Kenya
Project Summer 2007
by Jose Ortiz, Bronx, NY

After reviewing the original Kenya
Project Summer 2007 plans with
other LGBT leaders who are
members of
GALCK (Gay and
Lesbian Coalition of Kenya),
changes to the plan have been
made.  Originally, Ishtar MSM, the
host group inviting Other Sheep,
had made plans to conduct
meetings in halls that will hold 50
to 80 people or more.  However,
because it is an election year in
Kenya, gays and lesbian issues
can be more volatile, and therefore
Other Sheep's presence and work
should be completely
underground, so advised GALCK
members.
Ishtar has decided, as counseled
by GALCK members and with the
full cooperation of Other Sheep,
that small discussion groups of 5
or 6 should be conducted in place
of large meetings.  There will not
be any advertising, not even the
use of flyers. Progress reports will
not be posted on the web.
Steve Parelli, Executive Director of
Other Sheep, has expressed his
cooperation and actually prefers
conducting small groups for their
first visit to Kenya with the
anticipation of having real
discussion and the opportunity to
get to know the individual
participants better.
Steve Parelli has said Other Sheep
is willing to conduct groups
throughout the day – morning,
afternoon and evening – so that as
many as would
like to participate may.
Discussion groups will be held
weekly or twice weekly over a
period of four weeks.  100 copies
of
The Children Are Free have
been provided by Jesus MCC,
Indianapolis, Indiana, and will be
used for discussion along with
The
Blue Book, a publication of the
Mount Kisco Presbyterian Church,
Mount Kisco, New York.
The Children Are Free addresses
the Bible and homosexuality.  The
Blue Book is in a question and
answer format covering topics
such as family, society,
psychology and religion as they
relate to homosexuality.  Both
books show excellent scholarship
with extensive bibliographies.
In addition,
Soulforce and PFlag
are providing pamphlets and
videos that will introduce the
concepts they teach.
After investing their time with
Other Sheep in Nairobi, Steve and
Jose hope to vacation for at least
two weeks to relax and enjoy the
beauty of Kenya before returning
home.
Continued from page 1
Hanks in Brazil, May 2007

represent the ignorance and
prejudice of relatively few.  With
students of marketing in one
university we discussed the neglect
of the booming gay market in their
courses and homophobic
mistranslation as a tool for
marketing Bibles.

My trip, of course, was not Other
Sheep’s first foray into what is not
just “another country,” but almost
half of Latin America.  John Doner
and Pepe Hernandez included
Brazil in their historic pioneer
missionary journey in 1994 (by bus
from Mexico to Argentina and
back) and were able to arrange for
seven resource-documentation
centers in key institutions.  Also,
my participation in the meeting of
the ILGA (International Lesbian
Gay Association) in Rio in 1995
even resulted in having my photo
published along with Boy George
in VEJA, the national news
magazine (equivalent to Time or
Newsweek)!  Since then MCC
(Metropolitan Community
Churches) has been able to
establish dynamic congregations in
several cities and one of their
pastors has translated some of our
materials into Portuguese
(see our
website:
www.fundotrasovejas.org).   
Kenya costs incurred to date
come to $4,856.00 which include air
fare, shots and meds, visas, travel
insurance, tour books, and cost to
fly Emmanuel Kamau R/T from TX to
NYC for the March planning meeting.
Gifts received to date from
individuals have come to $1,050.00.  
Your gifts are greatly appreciated.  
Additional costs:  Housing is
between $20-30 a night for five
weeks in Nairobi; plus meals.
Rev. Dr. Thomas
Hanks, co-founder
of Other Sheep, is  
Other Sheep
Theologian and
Director of Mission.  
He authored the
commentary on
Romans and
Hebrews in
The
Queer Bible
Commentary
,
published in 2006.