A spokesperson for the South England Conference told Spectrum that a "Holy Sexuality" conference planned for April 21-25, and to be held at the Advent Centre, an often-used meeting facility in London, was canceled not because of public outcry, but because of a decision made by leaders of the South England Conference in concert with the British Union Conference. The event was to have featured speakers from "Coming Out" ministries, an ex-gay, conversion therapy advocacy organization. Leaders of SEC and BUC were not involved in the planning of the event, which was inspired by a Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) event at which "Coming Out" speakers shared their message.
Over 40,100 people signed a Change.Org petition to block the "Coming Out" speakers from receiving visas to enter the country. The petition said,
This conference will promote the dangerous view that homosexuality is something to be cured. It should not be allowed to take place in the UK.
Speakers include Mike Carducci, Wayne Blakely and Danielle Harrison, who all claim to have been cured of their gay lifestyles and work to encourage others to reject homosexuality. Online videos show Mike Carducci describing gay people as 'sexually defiled'.
According to the denominational leaders with whom we spoke, the event was canceled before the petition gained traction and wide circulation. The "Holy Sexuality" event page now displays a message crafted by Union and Conference leaders:
A decision was taken on Monday, 13 April to cancel the 'Holy Sexuality' Conference originally planned for London, 21-25 April 2015.
Seventh-day Adventists are a people of peace who believe in hope and dialogue. However, it appeared that rather than drawing people together the conference had the potential to divide. The Adventist Church recognises that the individuals invited to speak at the Holy Sexuality Conference have compelling life stories to share but equally appreciate that there are those who take a different point of view.
We are disappointed that in a society that values freedom of speech and divergence of opinion that there are those whose wish it is to silence individuals who hold a different point of view to their own. We do not believe that the potential disruptions that were being planned for this event would have been beneficial either to the participants or to our friends in the LGBT community. As such a decision has been made to cancel the event which had been locally organised by a group of members in the South London area.
The Adventist Church strongly subscribes to a belief in freedom of speech. This also includes the freedom to hold different views. The Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks to minister to all men and women in the spirit of Jesus, recognising that every human being is valuable in the sight of God.
As a Bible believing Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms the dignity of all human beings, and as a Church is well known for its commitment to community work both globally and locally in London.
Although the "Holy Sexuality" conference has been called off, "Coming Out" speaker and co-founder Michael Carducci is still scheduled to speak to the Youth at the North England Conference "Strong Families, Strong Churches" Camp Meeting, scheduled for June 8-14. Carducci is billed as "a ministry leader addressing his history from living in the Homosexual Culture, and being sexually addicted for over twenty years."
In 2014 after speaking at a GYC meeting, Carducci contacted Spectrum to issue a formal apology for offending any LGBT Adventists by his GYC presentation.
To the LGBT men and women who are believers of the Seventh-day Adventist message and to those who were offended by my statement in a presentation that I gave at GYC, I apologize and ask for your forgiveness. In no way would I ever want anyone to feel that they were isolated or in any way outside of the very focus of Jesus’ love and compassion.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.