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Lazarus Project Award; James Simmons, TX

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  • CORNET
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE Two stories: Presbyterians to give Lazarus Project Award to William P. Thompson and Southern Baptist Convention coverage of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2001
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
      Two stories: Presbyterians to give Lazarus Project Award to William
      P. Thompson and Southern Baptist Convention coverage of the story of
      the Rev. James Simmons of Texas.

      ---------------

      From PCUSA News Briefs, January 25, 2001

      Lazarus Project Award

      Former General Assembly stated clerk William P. Thompson will be
      given the Lazarus Project's Lazarus Award Feb. 24 at the project's
      annual awards banquet in Pasadena, Calif.

      The Lazarus Project is a ministry of reconciliation between the
      Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and gay, lesbian, bisexual and
      transgendered persons. It is a mission of West Hollywood (Calif.)
      Presbyterian Church, the Presbytery of the Pacific and the Synod of
      Southern California and Hawaii.

      Its Lazarus Award is given annually "to a person outside the project
      who has either sought reconciliation between the church and the gay
      and lesbian community, or who has advanced the spirituality of the
      gay and lesbian community."

      Thompson, who was stated clerk from 1966-1984, was a staunch defender
      of the PC(USA)'s policy banning the ordination of "self-afffirming
      practicing homosexuals" that was adopted in 1978. Since 1984, he has
      become increasingly vocal in declaring that the denomination erred in
      adopting that policy.

      -------------------------------

      From the Baptist Press (SBC)

      Ex-seminary staffer/missing man calls himself celibate homosexual
      Jan 23, 2001
      By Art Toalston
      http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=10186

      DALLAS (BP)--A former staff member of Golden Gate Baptist Theological
      Seminary said no one at the seminary knew he was a homosexual during
      his 10 years there.

      James Simmons identified himself as a celibate homosexual in a Jan.
      20 news conference at the predominantly homosexual church in Dallas
      that selected him as pastor in December.

      Simmons, 49, subsequently faced a personal firestorm when he was
      identified as Wesley Barret "Barre" Cox who had not been seen since
      disappearing on a Texas farm road in 1984 and leaving behind a wife
      and six-month-old daughter in San Antonio, Texas. Simmons had said he
      had amnesia since being savagely beaten and left for dead in the
      trunk of a junked car near Memphis, Tenn., in 1984.

      Simmons' story has received widespread media attention, from the
      Associated Press and New York Times and TV's "Today" show.

      At Golden Gate Seminary, Simmons told the Jan. 20 news conference in
      Dallas, "They knew I had worked with the gay community doing HIV
      counseling, although if I had come out to them, they would have been
      obliged to dismiss me."

      Simmons was Golden Gate's campus housing director at the time of his
      resignation in December. In 1991, after arriving at the Mill Valley,
      Calif., seminary, he was elected body president in 1993 and 1994 and
      earned two master's degrees.

      Simmons expressed regret for the furor that has faced his new
      congregation, White Rock Community Church in Dallas, which has been
      characterized as a "predominantly gay and lesbian congregation" in
      media reports.

      "Many church members have been outed as a result of this media
      circus, and for that I apologize," Simmons told the news conference,
      which was attended by about 50 members at the church, along with his
      brother and sister from his previous life as Barre (pronounced Barry)
      Cox, a young Church of Christ minister and Texas Tech doctoral
      student in art education.

      Simmons told the news conference, "I will take four weeks off to give
      the church time away from the media and to give me time to be with my
      family. It will give the church time to reconsider its call."

      Simmons acknowledged, "I don't know if I would believe myself if I
      heard this story," which includes him using a Texas farmer's name,
      Social Security number and birthdate -- and causing two IRS audits of
      the farmer in the late 1980s. But, Simmons asked, "If I made up this
      story, why would I come back to Texas, where I'd try to get away from
      to begin with?"

      Simmons said, "I feel confused. I feel uplifted. I feel surprised. I
      feel frustrated. I have so many questions. There will always be
      questions." He concluded the news conference by saying, "Pray for me
      in the coming weeks, that I can be the best dad, the best husband,
      the best pastor, the best Christian as I can."

      Simmons preached Sunday morning, Jan. 21, at the church and was
      greeted at the end by hugs and well wishes from many of the nearly
      300 worshippers. The service, Cox told the Associated Press, "was a
      pastor's dream as far as a first Sunday goes."

      Simmons had a three-hour closed-door meeting with about 120 church
      members to answer their questions Friday night, Jan. 19. Various
      church members told the media they remained supportive toward
      Simmons, and some voiced enthusiasm over the opportunity to be
      supportive of their new pastor.

      Simmons said he has spoken several times with his wife, with whom his
      marriage was ended when Cox was declared legally dead in 1991, and
      his daughter, now 17, who live in the Nashville, Tenn., area. Simmons
      said he plans to meet with his former wife and daughter.

      Simmons' identity as Cox was first noticed by a White Rock church
      member when Simmons preached there in mid-December in view of a call.
      The member contacted his mother, who made some inquiries and then
      contacted Cox's mother, now 80 and living in east Texas.



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