Other Sheep and Maranatha, the LGBT group of The
Riverside Church, New York City, sponsor forum:
Sunday, February 17, 2008
This is an Other
Sheep website.
Dr. Wilhelmina Perry,
Convener, Maranatha
Chad A. Gurley
Deputy Convener,
Dr. Wilhelmina Perry,
Convener, Maranatha
(left), with Emmanuel
Kamau, panelist
Chad A. Gurley,
Deputy Convener,
(right) with
Emmanuel Kamau, panelist
The Panelists
Left to right:
  • Jose Ortiz
  • Davis Mac-Iyalla
  • Emmanuel Kamau
Jose Ortiz        
                     Davis Mac-Iyalla
                                                       Emmanuel Kamau
The meeting was well attended.
Room MLK 411, The Riverside Church
Manhattan, New York
Our co-Sponsors present:
Upper left photo:
Kate McDonough (right) with life partner
Pride in the Pulpit Coordinator

Photos at immediate left:
Perry Brass, author
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Pastor of MCCNYC

Below Insert:
Rev. David D. Cockcroft,
Presbyterian Welcome
Left to right:
  • Perry Brass, author
  • Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep co-Coordinator for Africa
  • Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Pastor MCCNY
  • Emmanuel Kamau, Other Sheep co-Coordinator for Africa
  • Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director, Changing Attitude Nigeria
  • Steve Parelli, Other Sheep Executive Director
Perry   Jose      Rev. Pat  Emmanuel    Davis       Steve
Rev. Cockcroft
Kate McDonough,right
Columbia Spectator online edition
Panel Examines Lives of Gays in Africa
By Scott Levi

Emmanuel Kamau of Nairobi, Kenya began receiving
death threats after his church expelled him for
publicizing his homosexuality.

As part of a panel at Riverside Church on Sunday
afternoon, Kamau and others offered American
audience members firsthand accounts highlighting
the plight of gay and lesbian Christians in Sub-
Saharan Africa. While several of the issues
discussed resembled those faced by homosexuals in
New York, the panelists stressed the problems
unique to post-colonial Africa.

“We are part and parcel of the Church,” said Davis
Mac-Iyalla of Nigeria, director of Changing Attitude
Nigeria. As one of the three who spoke about
individual experiences as a devout Christian
specifically in Kenya and Nigeria, he criticized the
Anglican Church for what he saw as exploitation of
the pulpit “to attack the gay community.”

Mac-Iyalla and Kamau, the co-coordinator for Other
Sheep, an organization that reaches out to
homosexual Christians and is led by Bronx resident
Jose Ortiz, reviewed the legislation against gays in
their respective homelands. Colonial era laws, still
influential in many areas in Nigeria, mandate 14
years in prison for those caught in same-sex
relations, and five years for those who “associate, by
family or other means” with gays. In Kenya, Kamau
explained, certain punishments can last 17 years.

Mac-Iyalla described his attempts to refute
allegations that “there are no gay members of the
church in Africa.” He also spoke about his work with
religious LGBT youths who had been shunned by
their churches and lacked resources.

A member of Parents, Families and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays NYC, an association that aims to
combat the growing number of homeless youths
“many of whom self-identify as gay,” posed a
question about the challenge of staying religious
while coping with such negative reactions from the
church. “The love that I have, I got from the Anglican
Church,” Mac-Iyalla responded.

The panelists also discussed the problem of AIDS,
the allegedly colonial roots of homophobia in Africa,
and divergence between attitudes in Anglophone
and Francophone nations. “The homophobic attitude
comes from the West,” Kamau said, citing several
words in native African languages that indicate an
acknowledgement of homosexuals in pre-colonial

Spearheaded by Maranatha, an LGBT group now in
its 30th year at Riverside Church, joined together a
diverse audience in the same way that three
panelists have gathered hundreds of LGBT Africans
at conferences in a number of cities. “My priest once
told me, ‘coming out is not an African thing,’” Mac-
Iyalla said. Yet while spoken by Mac-Iyalla, both
expressed the sentiment that “it’s time for the church
to start addressing these issues. The church has to
face them, head-on collision.”
Behind the scene - - - Emmanuel Kamau and
Davis Mac-Iyalla at Steve and Jose's apartment
When not a
bedroom nor a
dining room for
guests, nor the
Other Sheep office,
this room is a living
together --
sharing a meal.
Steve Parelli, center,
Other Sheep Executive
Director, with
, left, and Davis
, at the
apartment building where
Steve lives with his
partner Jose Ortiz.
Emmanuel Kamau
Davis Mac-Iyalla,
left, with
This is an Other
Sheep website.
Visits made to this web page since February 27, 2008
This web page was created and published February 27, 2008
Other Sheep Coordinators for Africa remark on their
Experience as Panelists
by Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY   February 20, 2008.

Jose Ortiz, African-latino and one of the three panelists of the event,
reports that the room was filled with expectation.  "I didn't feel like I had to
win the audience," said Jose, "they were there because they were already
one with us in spirit and concerne for Africa."  Says Emmanuel Kamau, the
panelist from Kenya, "It was evidently clear that the pople were eager to
know and learn about African LGBT people of faith and their issues."

"As I spoke of Africa, I could see in my mind's eye the actual people I had
known while in Africa," said
Jose who, as Other Sheep coordinatlor for
Africa, ministered with Other Sheep in Kenya last summer for five weeks.  "I
felt they were with me the people of Nairobi . . . by name, face and
happenings . . . so that I was full of my sotry.  It was a very heart warming
feeling.  Not cold statistics, but people of Kenya I know."

"It was a healing experience for me," said
Emmanuel Kamau, a
charasmatic Catholic.  "The church that had wounded me was now reaching
out to me to hear me and to help me.  The church had disapointed me; now
it was reaching out to me."

Jose noted:  "I had the sense that we were a part of making history within
Maranatha when one of the Maranatha members made the observation that
this was an all black panel, a first for Maranatha that he'd experience, and
that the next step in the life of Maranatha might be just this that the justice
issues of places like Africa might now be a major concern taken up."  

"I had never met Davis personally," said
Emmanuel speaking of the
panelist from Nigeria who was not available for comment when this article
was being written.  "Yet it was like I had known him for years."

"I was truely humbled," said
Jose, "to be on this panel with two Africans who
had truely suffered for LGBT religious causes in their homelands . . . in
ways I've not had to suffer here. . .  I was humbled to be but a small part of
their struggles."

Emmanuel who, in March 2007, initialy invited Other Sheep to Kenya,
and who just recently became an Other Sheep coordinator for Africa,
"Because I've known Jose and Steve (Executive Director of Other Sheep,
not a panelist) as co-lobourers, to be on this panel for Other Sheep is like
working with family, with people I've already bonded with and love.

Emmanuel, "I was in church and speaking out loud as an openly gay
man and I was not being judged . . . a remarkable feeling of liberty at last."
More Photos

As told to Steve Parelli by Mac-Iyalla, February 27, 2008, Bronx, NY
How I came to be invited to speak at The Riverside Church
When I told Steve I was coming through NYC on my way to a speaking
engagement I had in California, and that I would like to stay with him a
couple days, he arranged with Maranatha, the LGBT group at The Riverside
Church, a forum on The Present-day experiences of Gay Christians in
Kenya and Nigeria.  I have known Other Sheep since 2006 when I first met
Steve in Geneva, Switzerland.  Subsequently, I spent a brief time with Steve
in 2007 when I came to the United States for a tour.  When Other Sheep and
Maranatha invited me to speak as a panelist at a forum to be held at The
Riverside Church, I was honored, and did not hesitate to accept their

The panel participants and what we talked about
The event was a success.  Emmanuel Kamau of Kenya and Jose Ortiz of the
States, who spent last July and August in Kenya, joined me as panelists.  
Together, we shared with our American counterpart what it is like to be gay
and Christian in a hostile environment.

My gratitude to Other Sheep and Maranatha; special thanks to
Steve and Jose for their hospitality
I am grateful to Other Sheep and Maranatha for the opportunity to speak.  I
am also grateful for the offering they took on my behalf.  Too, I want to
express my gratitude for the hospitality Steve and Jose showed my while I
was here by keeping me in their home, providing for my daily needs, and for
seeing me to and from the airport.

My second visit to St. Luke's in the Field
In addition to The Riverside Church meeting, I was able to worship and
speak in St. Luke's in the Field in the Village, Manhattan.  I spoke here in
2007 and so I was returning to be with friends I had made there on my
previous visit.  It was wonderful to be with them again.  They are so loving
and welcoming.  I will always want to return and visit again St. Luke's in the
Mac-Iyalla says
"Thank you"
Above Photo:
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of
Changing Attitude Nigeria
Taken February 16, 2008.  
Bronx, New York. By Steve Parelli
Davis Mac-Iyalla
Above Photo:  
Emmanuel Kamau, March 2007,
NYC.  Photo by Steve Parelli.

Email Kamau:
Above photo:
Jose Ortiz, left, with partner
Steve Parelli, Mexico 2005.  
Photo by Steve Parelli

Email Jose Ortiz: