Living Waters Australia (LWA), one of the foremost and longest running ex-gay/conversion therapy programs in this country will cease operations next month. Ron Brookman, the Australian director, gave several reasons for his decision in a newsletter to followers last week. Many in the gay community are applauding this move as this means only a handful of these harmful organizations remain.
Andy Comiskey, a ‘former’ homosexual and founder Desert Stream Ministries, developed the Living Waters program in the early 1980’s in West Hollywood to heal the ‘sexually broken’ (gay men and women). Since that time, his books and methods became dogma for ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy practitioners and organisations around the world. When the leading ex-gay organisation, Exodus International, closed down in June 2013, Comiskey turned on Exodus President Alan Chambers. A small remnant of ministries committed to the ‘change is possible’ message created ‘Restored Hope Network’ and Comiskey became a founding board member and chairperson.
Randy Thomas, former vice president of Exodus International, stated in his apology to the LGBTI community that one of his greatest regrets was his promotion of Andy Comiskey and his participation in the Living Waters programs.
Living Waters Australia
Living Waters Australia has operated for nearly thirty years. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the ministry worked out of Christian Life Centre in Waterloo, which would later become the city campus of Hillsong Church. When Pastor Brian Houston took the church over from his father, Frank Houston, in the late 90’s the ministry was closed down by Brian because of its ineffectiveness. It was at this time LWA moved to Ramsgate. Under Brookman’s leadership, LWA had a degree of growth running groups around Australia and holding conferences. But that has changed drastically over the last decade.
In 2010, Brookman confessed ‘‘There has been a real shift in society lately. We have detected this through responses to Living Waters offerings, we cancelled a conference recently because only a handful of registered. This year we have fewer Living Waters groups and fewer people in those groups. Our leadership training week at Collaroy appears to be hugely undersubscribed.”
Ron Brookman has preached the ‘change is possible’ message even at a parliamentary level. In 2005, when Prime Minister John Howard was planning altering the marriage act to ensure that marriage would always be defined as ‘between and man and a woman’ only, Brookman shared his testimony as a ‘former homosexual’ to the large gathering of Christian leaders in Canberra; ignoring the fact that he still has same-sex ‘thoughts’ as he calls them.In September 2007, Brookman gave testimony of his change of “homosexual orientation and practice to heterosexuality”, to the Australian marriage Forum, at Parliament House Canberra.
In 2012, before the Senate Same-Sex Marriage Inquiry Rev.Brookman told the committee ‘For over 30 years I was homosexual’ and that he had experienced a ‘transformation of my sexuality to heterosexuality’. Brookman also told the inquiry ‘In the last six months I have celebrated the weddings of two ex-gay men who have married beautiful wives and two couples who have given birth to babies who would never have been born had they not transitioned from homosexuality’. These statements have not only been misleading they are also highly irresponsible (read THE SADDEST THINGS ABOUT THIS SITUATION at the conclusion of this article on Situational Heterosexuality)
In 2012, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International’s research revealed that two thirds of ex-gay/reparative/conversion ministries had ceased to exist in Australia in the last decade. LWA was one of the few that remained. Rev Brookman has also appeared on TV shows, documentaries and interviewed by the print media, preaching his message that gay men and women are broken human beings and God can change them to straight. His own marriage consistently proclaimed as the evidence. History tells us that the overwhelming majority of these attempts to become straight through a heterosexual marriage fail and there are not 100,000’s of ex-gays as has often been claimed by people like the Rev Fred Nile.
Why Living Waters Australia is coming to an end – reality check
In the LWA newsletter last week Rev Ron Brookman announced his resignation as Director of LWA, effective from 31st March, there will be a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12th April where he outline in greater detail the reasons for LWA’s demise and that LWA Australia will be completely wound up by 30th June 2014.
The reasons LWA is coming to an end according the retiring director.
- Deficiencies in his own leadership
- Change in the Church and Christian culture over the last decade
- LWA has shrunk to only 3 groups operating in the Sydney area
- There is nobody who has been identified, trained, or who is willing to take up leadership of the ministry.
- Nor does there appear to be openings to develop the ministry at this time.
Where does that leave us now?
This means that only a handful of ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations are left in Australia, one of which is Liberty Christian Ministries, which are a part of the crumbling Exodus Global Alliance.
When Exodus International closed down last year Rev Brookman and others declared, in a poorly researched piece in the mainstream press, that the ‘Gay cure’ therapy will continue in Australia. As I pointed out at that time THESE WERE VERY EMPTY WORDS.
The remaining organisations days are well and truly numbered. The gay Christian movement grows exponentially, the number or LGBTI welcoming, accepting and affirming churches grows. The vast majority of Australians have an out, proud gay or lesbian brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent, friend or work colleague. And to hear churches or religious organisations label them as sick, dysfunctional and broken is abhorrent, offensive and ignorant.
When Living Waters Australia is holding its holding its Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12 April, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International will be holding a 30 minute vigil in Taylor Square, Sydney, to remember those we have lost through ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations and because of faith/sexuality conflict and to celebrate those who have survived.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. Facebook event here. Please share