Many remember the now-defunct Evergreen International, an organization that sought to help its members overcome same-sex attraction and live according to LDS Church teachings. Evergreen ceased to exist in early 2014, and North Star International (NorthStarLDS.org) absorbed many of its resources. North Star bills itself as "a faith-affirming resource for Latter-day Saints addressing sexual orientation or gender identity" and will host its second annual conference April 23-25 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo. Greg Harris, North Star International's vice president, explains why such an organization remains relevant.
Why North Star International?
The purpose and promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not to make gay people straight, but rather to help individuals become "new creatures" in Christ. The focus of North Star's education and support resources is not on changing sexual orientation, but rather on supporting those who desire to live within the framework of the doctrines of the church. ... Whether or not individuals choose to make efforts to diminish or eliminate homosexual feelings, and whether or not those efforts succeed, is personal and less important to North Star's purposes.
Does North Star continue Evergreen's tradition of conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy is not, nor has ever been, a part of our organization's mission. At our annual conference or other events, we may hold workshops on general themes of health and wellness facilitated by licensed mental-health professionals. Those workshops focus on holistic well-being and personal growth, not sexual-orientation-change efforts.
What is North Star's relationship to the LDS Church?
North Star operates wholly independently of the church—it is not owned by or affiliated with the church, and does not receive funding or direction from the church.
Does North Star believe that faithful LGBT people should live a celibate life?
We support the [LDS] doctrine outlined in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," which states, "We ... declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."
What do those who are openly gay gain by being active in the LDS Church?
Many of God's children, LGBT or otherwise, have followed the exhortation of Jesus Christ to seek out truth and have received a confirming witness of the veracity of the restored gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. This gospel and membership in the [LDS Church] provides a deep understanding of our worth as God's children, our purpose here on Earth, and our divine potential in the hereafter. Sacred covenants and ordinances provide a path for each son or daughter of God to reach this potential and return to their heavenly home. These principles and teachings are universal in appeal—especially to God's LGBT sons and daughters—many of whom have struggled with feelings of worthlessness or rejection throughout their lives.