Australia’s largest ‘ex-gay’ ministry announces it will close down

Australia’s Living Waters ‘ex-gay’ ministry has announced it will close by the end of June – citing a lack of interest and lack of qualified personnel to continue operating

19 March 2014    6:00 GMT 

Australian ‘ex-gay’ ministry Living Waters has announced it will close its doors and its national director will resign by the end of the month.

Living Waters national director Ron Brookman made the announcement 12 March in a group newsletter, writing, ‘I sense, and the board and leadership team around me concur that, sadly, it is time to wind up the ministry.’

‘As a matter of integrity I have handed my resignation as Director of LWA to our Board, effective from 31st March. There is no longer a “national” ministry. It has shrunk to 3 groups operating in the Sydney area, extending covering also to a couple of ministries in Victoria.

‘Nor does there appear to be openings to develop the ministry at this time … I will outline in greater detail the reasons for this demise at the Thanksgiving Service with which we will close the ministry on Saturday 12th April.

Brookman said the reasons for closing the ministry included ‘change in the Church and Christian culture over the last decade,’ deficiencies in his leadership, and ‘wisdom in changing strategy to bring healing to the broken.’

Another problem was that there was no one interested in replacing him as leader of the group.

‘There is nobody who has been identified, trained, or who is willing to take up leadership of the ministry,’ Brookman wrote.

‘It seems that the Lord is preparing to do something new in bringing healing to the broken. So we have taken the decision to close the office on 31st March, and to wind up Living Waters Australia by 30th June.’

Living Waters is the most prominent ‘ex-gay’ groups operating in Australia and it pledged to redouble its efforts after the largest such ministry in the world, Exodus International, closed down last year.

Anthony Venn-Brown (pictured), founder of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International who has been monitoring ‘ex-gay’ groups in Australia for nearly two decades, said Living Waters’ decision to close was symptomatic of the decline of the ‘ex-gay’ movement in the country.

‘For the last fifteen years ex-gay ministries have been in decline in this country,’ Venn-Brown, a former Pentecostal pastor and ‘ex-gay’ therapy survivor, told GSN.

‘Living Waters Australia (LWA) closure means we are near the end. The tipping point was reached some time ago but some of these organizations have been flapping and floundering, refusing to go under. What is particularly significant is that LWA has been one of Australia’s most prominent and long lasting organizations. In many ways LWA’s closure is equivalent to Exodus International in the US shutting down last year.’

‘The closure does mean that Christian people “struggling with unwanted same sex attraction” will have fewer options and less people will be harmed. But it also means that we have to build bridges to the strugglers to help them reconcile faith and sexuality instead of being told they have to choose one or the other.

‘Participants in these “change is possible” programs are often emotionally and psychologically damaged. It can take years to work through the trauma, shame and self-loathing. Some have even taken their own lives.’

Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International, a group aimed at building dialogue between the LGBTI community and churches, will be holding a vigil on 12 April in Sydney’s Taylor Square to remember those lost to the ‘ex-gay’ movement and to celebrate ‘ex-gay’ survivors.

Date: Saturday 12 April 2014

Time: 7:00pm to 7:30pm

Place: Northern side of Taylor Square (next to the Oxford Hotel)

What to bring: Candle, torch, rainbow paraphernalia

What to wear: Something yellow if you can to represent hope for a better future

Who can come: All welcome including straight allies and supporters.