Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz with Other Sheep since 2005

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Date:  October, 2015
Bedford Park, Bronx, NY

Steve and Jose’s Bio with Other Sheep

Formerly an ordained evangelical Baptist minister who pastored in the states of New York and New Jersey, Rev. Stephen R. Parelli (sparelli2002@yahoo.com) became the Executive Director of Other Sheep in 2005. 

Other Sheep (www.othersheep.org), founded in 1992 in Latin America by Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks, an American missionary, author, and contributor to the Queer Bible Commentary (Romans and Hebrews), is an ecumenical, Christian ministry that works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith-traditions. Other Sheep, with Coordinators in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and North America, is a networking organization “connecting people with people and people with resources.”

Jose Ortiz (bronzeprjo@hotmail.com), a school guidance counselor in the New York City Public Schools since 1997, has served as Other Sheep Coordinator for Asia and Africa since 2005.

Having met in 1997 in New York City’s historic Calvary Baptist Church’s ex-gay support group, Steve and Jose became a live-together couple the same year and subsequently registered with the city of New York as “domestic partners.”   In 2008, they were legally married husband and husband in Sacramento, California.

Since 2005, volunteering their summer time to Other Sheep, Steve and Jose have worked in 29 different countries worldwide (including the United States) conducting seminars, distributing literature, collaborating with on-the-ground mobilization, teaching seminary students, sponsoring translation projects, and networking with educators, religious leaders, LGBT activists and straight allies.

Other Sheep subject matter and materials relate to the intersecting of homophobia and religion, and include topics on the Bible and homosexuality, queer theology, psychology, religious freedom and liberty of conscience, contextualized homosexuality, and the “ex-gay” movement. 

Together, throughout the world, Steve and Jose have distributed hundreds of copies of the book The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships (by Miner and Connoley).

They (or, at times just Steve or just Jose who is fluent in Italian, French and Spanish) have been featured live on national TV in Paraguay and Uruguay, and local TV in Guatemala; prerecorded TV in India and St. Lucia, both countries twice; live on radio twice in Nairobi, Kenya, once in Hong Kong, St. Lucia, Guatemala and Botswana; prerecorded TV and radio in Martinique and St. Lucia; Internet radio in Colombia; and in articles, both in print and in digital form, from interviews with journalists throughout their travels, including a major article in India Today by M. G. Radhakrishanan, the number one weekly national magazine in India (September 26, 2011).

Steve has represented Other Sheep at four International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) world conferences (Geneva-2006, Vienna-2008, Stockholm-2012, Mexico City-2014), one UN HIV/AIDS world conference, an MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) Europe-Africa regional conference (presented), and a US State Department Roundtable discussion.  Steve has spoken at Evangelical Theological Society (2006), Yale (LGBT society, 2010), Union Theological Seminary (2011), The Riverside Church (LGBT society, Maranatha), Reconciling Ministries Network national conference (2009), MCC General Conference workshop (2010), Connecting Families (2012), and a United Methodist Church in Virginia (2013).  Steve and Jose have spoken at the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (ABC).

Steve was featured in the 2008 Reasons to Believe (HarperCollings Publishers) by journalist John Marks.  In 2007, The Gay & Lesbian Review featured Steve’s article on the evangelical ex-gay movement.  In 2010, Steve was awarded the MCC “Profiles of Courage Award.” In 2012, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.com published Steve’s commentary on how evangelicals “love” gays and his comments/video of his address before the New Jersey Judiciary Committee on Civil Unions vs. Marriage Equality. Local newspapers (Jamestown, New York, and Sparta, New Jersey) where Steve once pastored before coming out, have published featured articles on Steve as Other Sheep Executive Director.

Steve has four biological children from a previous marriage.  Steve and Jose currently make their home in the Bronx, New York.

Steve holds a BRE (Bachelor of Religious Education) and ThB (Bachelor of Theology) from Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania (now Summit University since 2015); an MDiv (Master of Divinity) from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary – Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and an MA (Master of Arts) in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) from Queens College, CUNY (City University of New York). 

Jose holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Columbia International University, South Carolina, and a Masters in Applied Psychology from NYU (New York University).

Having been defrocked as an ordained Baptist minister after coming out, in 2009 Steve received “extraordinary clergy credentials” from Rev. Nancy Wilson, the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Church.

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