Trinity Works, an evangelical group that used deceptive practices last year to convert members of the LGBT community to its brand of conservative Christianity, will reprise its efforts at Twin Cities Pride in 2015. Those plans, however, are largely unknown outside the group’s members. Trinity Works’ leadership has refused multiple requests for information about efforts this year.
Meanwhile, LGBT leaders are encouraging Twin Cities Pride attendees not to confront anti-LGBT evangelicals at the event, and OutFront and faith leaders will have a presence at all Pride events to assist those who have been targeted by Trinity Works’ activities.
Last year, the group sent evangelicals to Pride events throughout the Twin Cities in order to evangelize. At the Pride Parade, the group set up camp at a church along the parade route giving out corn and water. Evangelicals at the parade route refused to identify their affiliations with Trinity Works, and used deceptive tactics to lure unsuspecting members of the LGBT community into proselytizing sessions including posing as medics and Pride volunteers. Trinity Works called it “Humility Outreach.” The group claims to have “saved” 80 people at Twin Cities Pride last year.
Trinity Works was founded by evangelist Steven Uggen. The group hosts “Messenger Boot Camps” where attendees spend 8 weeks learning the art of converting people to Trinity Works’ brand of conservative Christianity. In order to graduate from last year’s boot camp, attendees had to go to Pride to convert members of the LGBT community. In 2014, the group set up camp at First Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis where “messengers” engaged in “24/7 firebase” outreach, leaving the church in shifts to go out to Pride events throughout the weekend. Trinity Works’ Uggen and several followers had been conducting covert outreach by going to LGBT establishments and the Pride festival for at least three years before conducting the 2014 recruitment outreach.
The Column created a compilation of events and interviews from last year’s events:
Trinity Works will be at Twin Cities Pride again in 2015, but few details about what their activities will be have been released. The activities will be called “Love Minneapolis 247,” and will involve a week of outreach throughout Minneapolis engaging a broad audience, with a special outreach at Twin Cities Pride on Sunday to the LGBT community. The group will be based at Northbrook Alliance Church in Brooklyn Center until Sunday’s outreach at Twin Cities Pride.
North Central University in the Elliot Park neighborhood will serve as “Base Camp” for out of town evangelicals which Trinity Works says will be coming from around the country:
Messengers from Los Angeles, Kansas City, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, New York and other cities are joining us in Minneapolis! God is…
— Love Twin Cities (@LoveTC247) June 9, 2015
In late March, Trinity Works held a training called Rainbow People which brought together ex-gay activists from around the country to train evangelicals on how to reach LGBT people.
Trinity Works made videos from that training available to the public via an email message to supporters and on the group’s Facebook page in early May.
The public could receive a copy of the DVD for a $25 donation to the ministry and $5 shipping. The Column attempted to acquire a copy through Trinity Works, but the ministry refunded the donation without explanation and never sent the DVD.
A few days later, Trinity Work’s leader, Steven Uggen, contacted The Column’s editor Andy Birkey requesting a meeting. When Birkey requested an on-the-record meeting, Uggen stopped responding to The Column. Inquiries about the nature of this year’s efforts also went unreturned.
In an email alert sent out to people willing to pray for the outreach, it was revealed that Trinity Works is attempting to secure a physical location near Twin Cities Pride on Sunday, but as of June 9th the group has been unable to identify a venue. The email states:
Pray for the Lord to open up a base camp in downtown MInneapolis on Sunday, June 28th ( that’s our big outreach to the Gay Pride Event). Pray that God’s plans and strategies would be revealed to the leaders of this final outreach and the Holy Spirit would pour out power and authority for all the details to come together and be completed.
Pray for God to open up a place to shift the firebase (24/7 worship and intercession) for Sunday, June 28th, because we need to be out of the Northbrook Alliance Church at 8: 00 AM.
The group also outlined some of its activities planned for Pride which include distributing a CD:
Pray for the Holy Spirit would pour out dreams and visions upon men and women in the LGBT community and prepare their hearts to surrender to Jesus as Savior & Lord during the Gay Pride Event.
Pray for grace and wisdom to be poured out upon the Love Minneapolis team as we gather content and get permission from pastors and ministry leaders for the New Believer’s Survival Kit. ( a discipleship teaching tool for people who surrender their lives to Jesus during Love Minneapolis). Pray that pastors and ministry leaders complete the teachings and that the Holy Spirit would anoint each teaching for the growth and maturity of each new believer.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would pour out a mighty anointing on the Love and Truth CD that is being handed out by messengers to the LGBT community. Pray that the Holy Spirit would open every person’s eyes and unstop their ears to the revelation and understanding of the Father’s heart for his children and His desire for intimate relationship with each one of them.
Much of the Messenger Boot Camp trainings are recorded and put online. Those recordings provide a glimpse of what strategies and tactics the group will use, and what type of theology the group espouses.
“It’s about turning your heart towards god,” Uggen said at a late May training. “It’s submitting yourself to the lordship of Jesus and that’s not just words. That’s words that are followed by action. It’s a supernatural turning of the heart that’s empowered by the Holy Spirit. Are you guys hearing my heart on this? okay so you know the love message is awesome but we need to hold it in tension with the truth particularly because some of, not all of, but several of the Love Minneapolis outreaches are going be directed at the Twin Cities Pride event, so we’ve got people that are walking in the LGBT lifestyle. They absolutely need love to start with but also truth needs to come into play as well. Okay and we can’t back off of that even though it’s costly i think it can be given in a very gentle and loving way but they need to hear both love and truth.”
In a training on “sexual purity,” Trinity Works’ leader Steven Uggen explained some of his past transgressions:
I remember the time, some of you know my story others don’t, but I was a corporate finance attorney about 15 years ago, living in the top floor of a building in downtown Minneapolis, driving a Beamer, wearing Armani suits, renting out limos on the weekend, staying at the W Hotel, I was in serial relationships from about 16-32, sometimes multiple women at the same time, slept with men, women, everything in between. Can we be real tonight? I’m just going to be real, man, I really got saved.
At a late April training, Uggen told his followers about the time he saw giant demons emerging from Twin Cities Pride:
It was the second Kings Banquet outreach we did. It was a graduation project for the 2nd Messenger Boot Camp, we washed, washed all the messengers feet, anointed them, commissioned them in prayer, They thought it was a good idea to wash my feet after I got done washing their feet, so they began to wash my feet and as they began to wash my feet it was like I got taken up out of the hotel where we were in the spirit and I saw the whole city all around I didn’t know this at the time, but the gay pride festival was actually going on in the downtown area at the time, so there just a lot of spiritual darkness going on and as I’m taken out of the hotel I saw demonic beings as tall as skyscrapers all around the hotel, huge massive. It was like looking back on the king’s banquet looked like this little manger scene but there was the glory of god was there and they’re all kind of hissing and snapping, I knew they weren’t exactly excited about what was happening there. The glory of the lord began to descend on to the city and as the glory of the lord came down they just got smaller and smaller and smaller until all these principalities and powers over the city of Minneapolis were like cockroaches and they just scattered and the lord marked me with revelation on that day that our primary means of spiritual warfare beloved is not cursing the darkness, okay, it’s not going oh no, I mean there is a place for confronting the darkness, but when it comes to principalities and powers that’s not our battle, okay, actually none of it is our battle. Our primary strategy is to worship Jesus and as we worship and magnify Jesus his glory comes down he pushes darkness away.
Trinity Works seems obsessed with the idea that people are not “saved” because demons run rampant. In a training late-April training called “Casting Out Demons,” guest speaker Jim Stoesz said:
Understand this about Satan’s kingdom: it’s not passive, it’s active. The reason it’s active is because there’s beings in that darkness. Demons that are there when we dabble, when we sort of stick a toe in or stick an elbow in, those beings can grab us, okay, it’s an active thing that they can grab a hold and pull us in but we do need a balanced view. I don’t want to set up a view that Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom are equal. God is all powerful. He knows everything. He is everywhere at once. Satan is not. He doesn’t know everything. He’s not everywhere at once. Satan’s’ kingdom is still very powerful so we need to have some respect there, because Satan can’t be everywhere at once, he operates through the demons or the angels that are fallen angels that are under his authority. so when he wants the whole territory, he needs to send a demon to hold that territory. We sometimes talk about Satan tempted us or Satan did this. Actually, I’m not important enough for Satan to tempt me. He send a demon to tempt me. We are dealing with demons.
Trinity Works isn’t alone in planning to evangelize the LGBT community during Pride. Revive Twin Cities, a branch of Time to Revive, a project of the Dallas Bible Church has signed on to be a part of the Love Minneapolis activities. Justice House of Prayer, which is part of the International House of Prayer movement and is founded by Nate Oyloe, the director of the ex-gay Outpost Ministries. Outpost Ministries will also be working with Trinity Works to reach LGBT people with an anti-LGBT message.
Trinity Works recently highlighted an “ex-gay” in marketing for the outreach:
The LGBT community in the Twin Cities is bracing for a second year of Trinity Works’ activities, but are quick to mention that Twin Cities Pride is open to the public, and all people are welcome regardless of their political or religious views.
The Rev. Vicki Wunsch, Associate Director for Faith Organizing at OutFront Minnesota, has some tips for how to deal with anti-LGBT evangelists at Twin Cities Pride, the most important one being ‘Don’t Engage.’
“If you are approached by someone, here are some handy tips: Do not engage, move away from the person, or help others to move away, if you feel threatened or unsafe, look for pride security,lLaw enforcement or open and affirming clergy, and in case of an emergency call 911,” Wunsch told The Column. “Not engaging has been the most effective tactic. It is our goal to deescalate any situation to ensure that ALL people are safe (including Trinity Works and any other anti-LGBTQ people or groups attending). We know from experience that walking away and not getting wrapped up in biblical arguments can help diffuse tension and anger. Continuing to ignore and not engage with these folks is a clear sign that we do not want or need their presence at pride. We are not sinners and we do not need to be saved. We are people all of backgrounds and all faiths and we believe that intersectionality is a beautiful thing. As upsetting and traumatic as it can be to hear hate speech and biblical verses, there are lots of clergy who are open and affirming who will be there to support those who need it. Outfront will have a specific Anti Violence program table where folks can come for support.”
Wunsch added, “Folks can also call Pride security (612-255-3265, select option 1). OutFront will be at all pride events and will have hand outs and be wearing shirts. There will also be supportive clergy folks wearing clergy collars to let others know we are available for support. We are working with Pride security to ensure that everyone is safe and has support if necessary. Last year we spoke to many folks we were deeply impacted by the deceptive and hurtful tactics of these groups and we want to let everyone know that we are here for you.”
Twin Cities Pride echoed those tips.
“We want everyone to have a great experience, affirming who they are and who they love,” Executive Director Dot Belstler told The Column. “We encourage attendees to seek out supportive participants, churches and organizations with booths at the Festival, and not to engage with non-supportive visitors.”