As Whosoever celebrates its ten year anniversary, we’ll be presenting articles that have appeared over the years about Whosoever or by Whosoever founder and editor Whosoever Candace Chellew. This article originally appeared in the January 9, 1997 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Candace Chellew hopes that her new magazine, “Whosoever,” can make a difference in the debate about the role of homosexuals in the Christian faith. The monthly magazine made its nationwide debut in June and is evolving into a publication that features in-depth discussions focused on specific themes. The most recent issue discussed mainstream churches that are welcoming gays and lesbians into their congregations. “I’m taking great pains not to be evangelistic,” she says. Her target audience is composed of those who were brought up in a Christian church but found themselves angry at God because of their homosexuality and unwelcome in Christian communities. Chellew’s motivation, however, stems from her experiences as the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister. Once she realized at age 16 that she was a lesbian, Chellew found her father’s sermons confusing and contradictory concerning Christianity and homosexuality. For a time she turned her back on God, believing that he had done the same to her. It wasn’t until she was 21-years-old that she came to realize that God had stood by her during many experiences. Chellew came up with the idea of “Whosoever” after attending a “TalkBack Live” show (on CNN) that dealt with same-sex marriages. “It was amazing to me how hateful these people were,” she says. “It didn’t seem to be very Christian to me.” “Whosoever” takes its title from the Bible’s John 3:16, which states that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus didn’t specify that his believers be rich, poor, gay, straight, right or wrong, she explains. In addition to the magazine, Chellew has set up a Web site with an e-mail address. Many of her subscribers and contributors have come through the Web site, which she said has helped broaden the magazine’s scope beyond Atlanta. “I haven’t gotten any death threats,” Chellew quips, but she has received many esponses to the magazine’s premise that the Bible is not infallible and that blind faith harms people by keeping them from interpreting the Scriptures for themselves. She has developed e-mail correspondence with many of her readers, including a man in Minnesota who initially told Chellew to repent or die. After several exchanges, he told her that he had formed his opinions about homosexuality without ever knowing any gay people. He and Chellew now have a friendly correspondence. “Sometimes you have to educate people one at a time,” Chellew said. “I may not change their minds now, but who knows what will happen down the road?” “Whosoever” is carried by more than 35 bookstores around the country. In Atlanta, it’s available at Brushstrokes, Borders at Perimeter, Oxford Books, and Charis Books & More. Linda Bryant, owner of Charis Books, says the magazine is a good resource that connects people who have similar ideas about homosexuality and Christianity. Chellew writes and edits the magazine from her Ormewood Park home, and a friend helps with the printing. Production expenses, about $600 an issue, come out of Chellew’s pocket. Her next task is to search for grant money, financial backers and someone skilled at selling ads.
Whosoever founder and Editor Emeritus Rev. Candace Chellew earned her Masters of Theological studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., was ordained in December 2003 and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her first book, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians,” was published by Jossey-Bass in 2008. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.