YADKINVILLE, N.C. — A group of small-town activists will hold a vigil today on the doorsteps of a local church that offers “ex-gay” reparative ministries.

The “Love Conquers Hate” vigil is organized by members of the grassroots group El Cambio and the non-profit activist group GetEQUAL. The vigil is planned for 4-5 p.m. at Redeemer Yadkin Valley Presbyterian Church, 221 E. Main St.

Organizers say they want Redeemer Yadkin Valley Presbyterian Church Pastor Mark Brown to discontinue the church’s “Parakaleo Ministry,” which the church says serves “individuals struggling with same sex attraction and other issues of sexual brokenness.”

The LGBT activists, however, say that reparative and “ex-gay” ministries are harmful. All major medical and psychological associations have refuted reparative therapies and ministries, and several ministries across the country have faced significant controversies over alleged sexual and emotional abuse of their clients. Last summer, the largest “ex-gay” ministry, Exodus International, shuttered its doors.

The Yadkinville activists have chided the Redeemer ministry as a “Pray the Gay Away” cause.

“We are sending the message ‘You Are Not Alone’ to each person who is subjected to this ministry against their will and to our LGBTQ friends and family who still live in the closet due to the fear of such dangers that the Parakaleo Ministry helps to create and justify,” the activists said in a press release.

Redeemer Pastor Mark Brown told Winston-Salem news station WXII that the ministry serves adult men only, though that information isn’t included on the church’s website.

“It gives folks struggling in silence a safe space to talk,” Brown told the news station.

The ministry’s website also links to several long-discredited “ex-gay” counselors and “researchers,” including material from Richard A. Cohen and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.

Cohen’s membership in the American Counseling Association was revoked in 2002 for multiple ethical violations. Cohen is not a licensed therapist.

Nicolosi is founder and former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). NARTH has been profiled extensively for its use of misleading so-called “junk science.” In 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center named it one of the leading sources for anti-LGBT propaganda.

Redeemer Yadkin Valley Presbyterian Church is an outgrowth of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem, some 30 minutes away from Yadkinville. The Winston-Salem church also offers the Parakaleo ministry.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.