Spencer, IN - Reverend Jeff
Miner, author of The Children are Free
and pastor at LifeJourney Church in Indianapolis, was the special guest at the October
meeting of the White River Valley PFLAG on Sunday in downtown Spencer. The meeting was held at the Spencer
Presbyterian Church Cornerstone Hall and had been a well-publicized community
The Reverend had
been invited to speak at this special PFLAG event as a part of Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender History Month. It was one of several events coordinated by
White River Valley PFLAG and Spencer Pride Inc., both local not-for-profit
organizations based in Owen County. Just
two weeks ago the two organizations had organized a screening and community
dialogue of the critically-acclaimed film Bullied:
A Student, A School, and a Case that Made History.
Cathy Wyatt, president of the White River Valley PFLAG, introduced Rev.
Miner after first allowing some time for mingling and the gathering of
refreshments. PFLAG members donated a
variety of snacks for attendees to enjoy and Spencer Pride Inc. provided
bottled water for guests.
After his introduction by Wyatt, Miner described his own background to
the group. He was born and raised in
Indianapolis where his family attended a fundamentalist church. After feeling a calling towards ministry, he
pursued and received an undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University in South
Carolina. Later Miner, went on to
graduate with Honors from Harvard Law School.
Upon graduation, he served as Deputy Chief Counsel for Legislative
Affairs at a federal banking agency in Washington, D.C. During his time in D.C., Miner began
preparing for the clergy at the Metropolitan Community Church’s Samaritan
Clergy Training Program. After
practicing law for 13 years, Miner left Washington, D.C. to take on his first
pastorate role at LifeJourney Church in Indianapolis in 1997. He has been with LifeJourney Church since then. Miner lives with his same-gender spouse of
twenty-one years, David.
Reverend Miner went on to talk about the origins of his popular book, The Children are Free, which was co-authored
by fellow pastor Tyler Connoley. The
book was written as a summation of current theological interpretations of
homosexuality in the Bible – not based on new, original research by Miner or
To understand his audience, Miner asked that each attendee speak about
their own faith background. One by one,
each person spoke about the origins of their faith, their current religious
participation, and often, why they attended the PFLAG event. Individuals in attendance represented a wide
variety of local churches, including the Spencer Presbyterian Church, the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, and the Bloomington First United
Methodist Church. There were also people
who expressed other forms of faith, or no religious affiliation at all. At least one local church leader was present.
The focus of the book, as well as of the Reverend’s talk at Sunday’s
event, was about Biblical examples of homosexuality – including examples of
Jesus affirming a same-sex relationship.
He also spoke about his church’s current “Who Stole Jesus?” campaign,
which he said was the result of frustrations with many main-stream
denominations who have used the words of Jesus Christ to promote intolerance
and prejudice. Being a man of deep
faith, Miner sees the campaign as an effort to reign in the identity-theft of
Jesus and to re-educate the public about Jesus’ actual life and words.
Reverend Miner spoke for nearly 90 minutes and afterward, took comments
and questions from the audience. The
attendees were all very engaged in the post-lecture conversation. Many had already read his book; some read it
years ago while others had done so recently because of the publicity around his
visit to Spencer.
One audience question was raised about the reception of the book by
fundamentalist churches. Reverend Miner
said that although at first fundamentalists often do not appreciate the value
of the book’s contents, often his Bible-based arguments help to open minds and
encourage constructive thought about one’s own faith and beliefs. Miner, who has spoken on this same topic in a
variety of lectures, debates, and interviews, indicated that he often surprises
others with his scripture-focused message.
“They expect me to come in and say that ‘God is Love’ and talk about this
topic in a very generic way,” Miner told the group. “They don’t expect that I am prepared to
argue chapter and verse, which I do.” The
Reverend’s passion was clear.
Having run out of time to continue the conversation, Reverend Miner ended
the formal discussion and invited individuals to speak with him afterward if
they had additional comments, questions, or concerns about the topic at
hand. Reverend Miner had a line of
people wishing to speak with him for at least another thirty minutes after the
conclusion of his talk.
This was the first time that Reverend Jeff Miner had visited Spencer,
although he was familiar with the community due to members of his congregation
who live in Spencer. He was happy to
have been invited and expressed an interest to return – especially if any local
church leaders were interested in a conversation about homosexuality in the
“I can’t say how excited that we were to be able to have Reverend Jeff
Miner attend our PFLAG event in Spencer,” said Cathy Wyatt. “His message is
powerful and encourages self-reflection about important topics.”
For more information about White River Valley PFLAG, please visit www.WhiteRiverValleyPFLAG.org or call president Cathy Wyatt at 812-829-7896.
For more information about LifeJourney Church, or the ‘Who Stole Jesus?”
campaign, please visit www.LifeJourneyChurch.cc.
White River Valley PFLAG was
founded in 2006 and serves Spencer, Bloomington, Martinsville, and the
surrounding communities in south central Indiana. Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians
and Gays is the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the
civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons. PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends
through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed
public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for
dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a
society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. Founded in 1973 by mothers and fathers, PFLAG
has 200,000 members and supporters in more than 500 chapters throughout the
United States. White River Valley PFLAG is a proud member of the Owen County
Chamber of Commerce.