The Love Won Out conferences on “leaving homosexuality” will be handed over in November to a longtime ministry partner, Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International.
“The economic challenges led us to this strategic decision,” Focus vice president Gary Schneeberger said Wednesday. “Love Won Out is not an inexpensive event to stage, and rarely, in over 50 cities where it’s been held, have we ever made back our investment, despite good attendance.”
Focus on the Family, which held its first Love Won Out conference in 1998, will lead its last on Nov. 7 in Birmingham, Ala. A $6 million shortfall in the $138 million budget also caused Focus president Jim Daly to send out a fundraising letter to 800,000 donors.
“Right now we’re facing a serious budget shortfall that threatens our ability to reach out to parents, families and married couples who count on our help,” Daly wrote. “I want to assure you we’re committed to good stewardship and living within our means, just as so many families are today.”
Schneeberger said one staff position will be eliminated and further cost-cutting measures are under consideration.
Wayne Besen, a gay activist with the group Truth Wins Out, said conference crowds are getting smaller and drawing less media attention.
“There is a shrinking market for their product,” Besen said. “This is a very positive development, because it shows Focus on the Family wants to get out of the ex-gay business ‚Äî though not completely. But if this were something they were really vested in, they would have kept it in-house.”