7 August 2018 | Two speakers from Coming Out Ministries that were scheduled to present at an Adventist camp meeting in Nova Scotia did not end up coming to the event. Canada’s Maritime Conference of the Adventist Church had been heavily pressured to remove the two speakers that are deemed controversial by LGBTQ advocacy groups. The Chronicle Herald reported that the conference had not commented on the apparent cancellation of the speakers’ appearance.

The Halifax Pride Festival and the Youth Project (a group supporting queer and transgender youth) objected to Danielle Harrison and Michael Carducci who were scheduled to present at the conference-sponsored July 20-28 camp meeting based at Adventist-owned Camp Pugwash in rural Nova Scotia.

The advocacy groups joined others in saying that the speakers would encourage LGBTQ individuals to adopt a heterosexual lifestyle despite their feelings and identities and that this approach mirrored conversion therapy without using the term itself.

Coming Out Ministries describes itself as “a ministry which unites three individuals in sharing their testimonies of freedom from sexual sin and same-sex relationships.” The organization made a presentation to Annual Council 2017 at the General Conference headquarters of the Adventist Church.

The StarMetro noted that Carducci rejects the term “conversion therapy” and claims that the presentations will cause no harm.

“I think that conversion therapies — many of them — were very destructive,” said Carducci to the StarMetro. “I don’t promote them.”

He defended the approach of Coming Out Ministries saying that condemning the practice of homosexuality is not the same as condemning the person. He claimed that the ministry does not provide counseling and he is not trying to “coerce or pressure anyone.”

Carducci said that the organization’s speakers “just tell our experience of how we want to live according to God’s word. We don’t tell people how to live. We allow people to make up their own mind.”

Katie Shewan, executive director of the Youth Project was not impressed: “Whether it’s called conversion therapy, a discussion, or a ministry, the issue is the harm that is caused by cultivating shame, guilt, and self-hatred in (LGBTQ) youth.”

She told the StarMetro that she felt it was “horrific this is still happening today,” and stressed that there was evidence that such an approach was “extremely harmful, and ineffective as well.”

She told the Chronicle Herald that she hoped that the non-appearance of the speakers represented “a step toward a changing of attitude within the SDA church and not solely a step to avoid publicility.”

Stan Jensen, spokesperson for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada told Adventist Today that the Adventist Church in Canada, “has never protested gay or lesbian marriages as it is part of a basic human right as defined by constitution and Canadian law. I do find it odd that when two people are invited by their stakeholders to tell their story, that the LGBTQI community panics and protest with other threats. If two people telling their story of a transformation is change therapy, then a lot of therapist should be out of business if transformation is changed by a couple of hours of people telling their story.”

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