The Ali Forney Center, a New York-based community organization dedicated to sheltering and serving homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens, has led a successful fundraiser to purchase a church known for its anti-gay views.
On Feb. 8, the Center announced on its website that it had raised $200,000 to buy the ATLAH World Missionary Church at auction. The former church will be used to provide housing to the Center’s homeless clients. Carl Siciliano, Executive Director and Founder of the Ali Forney Center, called the campaign’s success “extraordinary.”
"We have been overwhelmed with support and encouragement and now have the opportunity to turn a place that has promoted hatred and violence into a safe space for LGBT homeless youth," he wrote in a statement on the Center’s website. "Could there be a more just outcome to the ATLAH foreclosure than that the young LGBT people most endangered by the hatred and contempt [Rev. James David Manning, ATLAH's pastor] promotes would take over his building?”
The fundraiser will continue through Feb. 24, when the church will officially go up for public foreclosure auction. This will allow the Center "... to be in as strong a position as possible to acquire the building," according to Siciliano, in case others try to outbid the initial $200,000 price.
ATLAH World Missionary Church was put up for auction after amassing debts and tax liens of more than $1.02 million, according to the Huffington Post. The church has been openly critical of LGBT activism, displaying messages like "Jesus would stone homos" on its billboard. The church’s pastor, Rev. James David Manning, released a video expressing his contempt for LGBT groups such as the Ali Forney Center and the Rivers of Living Water, which also raised funds to purchase the church.
The Ali Forney Center was founded in 2002 and named after Ali Forney, a transgender youth who was murdered in New York in 1997 at the age of 22. The Center provides medical and mental health services, volunteer mentors, educational and career programs, safe sex and HIV prevention education and life skills training, according to its website.