The Board of Directors and Executive Committee of North Star International join in the unequivocal condemnation of the vile and hate-driven attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We offer our solemn condolences to families of those tragically murdered and injured. We mourn with those in Florida and the entirety of the SSA/LGBT community. We stand ready to comfort and assist in any way that we can. Our prayers, and our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones, but more than that we offer our love.
Acts of pure hatred, such as the recent shooting, bring much fear and vulnerability into the lives of the SSA/LGBT community. Central to the mission of North Star is our desire to help SSA/LGBT individuals release the shame, guilt, and fear that can be all consuming. We stand firm in our conviction that this fear cannot and will not be allowed to win.
The events in Florida can only be described as terrorism. We call on reasonable voices in all quarters to join together in condemning this attack while working to find common ground across our differences so that we might more effectively combat this rising tide of hate. There is nothing more valuable or more noble than our liberty and freedom to choose. This freedom is a God given gift; it must be protected and fought for. We unitedly stand to fight for agency and fight against fear, shame, and hatred.
As we begin to process what happened, some will start to look for answers. We affirm that peace and answers can come by drawing closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the author of peace and showed us, by His perfect example, how to have empathy and love for all those who are hurting.
The Board of North Star International has accepted the resignations of Jeff Bennion, Chairman, and Pret Dalhgren, Board Member. Jeff and Pret informed the Board that they reached this conclusion that their continued participation on the Board may be a distraction to the organization’s central mission and continued growth.
In a joint statement, they said, “North Star has never advocated any specific therapy, including reparative or ‘conversion’ therapy; we feel that message will be made more clear if we no longer fill leadership roles.”
Jeff and Pret’s decision is a continued reflection of their commitment to North Star’s success. I personally want to thank them for their many contributions, which have helped create and build this organization.
Today, I am able to announce that Tera Brown has been unanimously elected as Chairman.
The Board and Greg Harris, President-elect of North Star who will assume that role in March, have asked me to express their confidence, with which I join, in our organization’s ability to continue to be a valuable resource to the LDS SSA and LGBT community going forward.
President, North Star International
Co-Director, Voices of Hope Project
Recently some members of the North Star community joined in an amicus curiae brief, or “friend of the court” brief, filed on behalf of “Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives In Support of Respondents” as part of the same-sex marriage case currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States and scheduled for oral argument April 28, 2015.
North Star is a ministry whose mission has continually been to help those who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. North Star is not a political organization nor does North Star promote traditional marriage as means of addressing same-sex attraction. Some members of our community chose to participate in the amicus brief. The views they expressed are their own, individual views; they do not speak for North Star International as an organization. Individuals involved with North Star hold a variety of positions on marriage, across the socio-political spectrum. A few community members who were quoted had no participation with the brief. As such, the quotations of anyone who did not sign the brief should not be interpreted as an endorsement either for or against the views raised in the brief. North Star was never asked for permission to use these quotes. It is North Star’s understanding that because the statements are in the public forum, they are available for public reference, including quotation.
The decision for a man and a woman to publicly share deeply personal experiences, whether to offer hope, or in defense of their religious convictions, deserves our respect. Our hope is that all involved may benefit from respectful dialogue with mutual accord and understanding.
The North Star community is made up of individuals and families around the world whose lives have been influenced by the complicated experience of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. We are men and women with varied backgrounds and personal narratives. While diverse in experience, we are united by our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to keep the covenants we have made as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This faith is the foundation from which we strive to love and support each member of the North Star community.
Recently, the stories of a few members of our community have been shared publicly on the TLC special “My Husband’s Not Gay.” We applaud the tremendous courage of these men and women who have opened their homes, their lives to the public. Their stories present a unique perspective that is a relevant and viable lifestyle choice for some individuals who experience same-sex attraction.
That said, marriage is a profoundly personal decision, and in no way should the stories of these men and women be interpreted as the ideal “solution” or “model” for all individuals in our community. As God’s sons and daughters, we have been given the sacred opportunity to commune with Him and receive personal revelation and instruction for our lives. We encourage each member of the community to seek out Heavenly Father’s guidance for your unique situation. As we incorporate His counsel and the teachings of gospel of Jesus Christ into our lives, we will find purpose, meaning, and peace—whether single or married.
North Star Executive Committee
Ty Mansfield, President
Dale Larsen, Vice President
Sarrah Groves, Vice President
Blaine Hickman, Vice President
Greg Harris, Vice President
Subsequent to our announcement of Ty Mansfield’s appointment as North Star’s fourth president, North Star International is pleased to announce the members of its new Executive Committee.
As previously noted, the existing Executive Committee was dissolved with the appointment of a new president by the North Star Board of Directors, and a new slate of Executive Committee members was nominated by the new President and approved by the Board of Directors.
A life-long member of the Church, Ty served in the Manchester New Hampshire Mission and graduated from BYU in Asian Studies and Business Management. He is a practicing marriage and family therapist and recently moved with his wife, Danielle, and their two kids back to Utah from Texas where he has been doing doctoral work in family therapy. He enjoys playing racquetball, eating Thai food, and thinks that the greatest technological advancement of the 21st century was the invention of the iPhone (he might even be a little obsessed with it). He also loves to travel and has lived or studied internationally in Japan, China, Israel/Palestine, and Egypt.
Ty is a co-author with Fred and Marilyn Matis of In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction (Deseret Book, 2004), which includes a personal memoir of his spiritual journey as a member of the Church who has experienced homosexual attraction. He has also compiled Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction(Deseret Book, 2011), an anthology of gospel teachings by a number of prominent LDS inspirational writers, as well as a number of personal essays written by LDS men and women who have first-hand experience with homosexual attraction. Ty also co-directs theVoices of Hope Project, an online extension of the book by the same name and which is a repository of video and written essays.
Ty is a founding member of North Star, serving as one of it’s Vice Presidents since its organization in December 2006.
Dale is a lifelong resident of Utah and works for a local aerospace company. He served a full-time mission in South Korea. His wife, Unhui, was raised in Inchon South Korea and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1973. Dale and Unhui were married in the Ogden Utah Temple in 1977, have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Dale has served in numerous callings throughout his life including Scoutmaster, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Bishop and as 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency. He firmly believes that regardless of how and when we come to terms with these struggles in our lives, the Lord will bear us up and help us get the life we want, if we trust in Him and His healing power.
Learn more about Dale and Unhui through their Voices of Hope interview.
Sarrah was raised in the Church and has come to understand herself and the gospel thru many life experiences, one of which is same-gender attraction. It was her love of her Savior and the atonement He provided for her that brought her peace surrounding this and all challenges, issues, and trials. She affirms that her desire to live the gospel and become what and who the Lord knows she can be and truly is is much more important than anything she could want or become by herself.
Sarrah worked as the Director of Special Business Events for a Fortune 500 company for twenty years. She simultaneously owned several companies and home schooled her children. She currently owns two companies GiGi Properties and The Pottery Grove Art Studio at Willow Creek. She enjoys all forms of art, loves spending many hours outdoors in her garden and finds enjoyment in the wonders of technology. She relishes working with her hands to create. She is especially fond of woodworking, pottery and fixing anything that is broken. Sarrah credits the Lord for her desire to reach out to others in the LDS community who experience SSA but whom also wish to live lives in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is defined by the living prophet. She has seen first-hand the perils of living “the way of the world” and hopes to help others avoid the pit falls of such.
Sarrah is a wife, mother of two, and grandmother of one. You’ll hear her saying that the greatest achievements and greatest joys of her life are found in her family especially her children, grandchildren and husband. If she had a mission statement it would be, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can solve all of the challenges and problems of life, it is the only thing that can answer all life’s questions, and it alone will provide pure wisdom, true love, everlasting peace and joy that comes by living a life in harmony with it.”
Learn more about Sarrah through her Voices of Hope interview.
Blaine was born in southwestern Wyoming and has lived the majority of his life in Layton, Utah. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Weber State University and a Masters in the same ﬁeld from the University of Utah. He taught English in Hefei, China, for six months and has enjoyed a couple of return trips to the country. His early medical release from an LDS mission in Taipei, Taiwan, introduced him into the world of mental health where he has worked in some capacity for nearly eight years. He currently works as therapist in an inpatient psychiatric unit as well as a private practice therapist with Aspire Counseling in Layton, Utah. His clinical interests include working with mood disorders, marriage counseling, and issues related to homosexuality. Blaine has taken classical voice lessons for roughly seven years, has an unusual interest in the history of communist China, and knows a shocking amount of Lord of the Rings trivia.
Blaine met his wife Lindsay at the age of 15 at Layton High School and after a complicated dating history the two of them married in 2005. Together, Blaine and Lindsay have two children.
Learn more about Blaine and Lindsay through their Voices of Hope interview
Born in Boise, ID and raised in Orem, UT, Greg is the oldest of six children. After graduating from high school, he attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and then served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Queztaltenango, Guatemala. After returning, he finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University. He currently works as a business consultant for a software technology company which allows him to travel and meet new people— something he has always loved. In addition to travel, Greg enjoys long-distance running, gardening, and spending time with friends and loved ones.
Greg has a passion for serving others and treasures the rich relationships that are built as a result. As a member of North Star, he has had the privilege of assisting with the Voices of Hope Project and planning the first annual conference. The personalized ministry and love he received from members of North Star has changed his life, and while serving on the executive committee he aspires to continue this tradition of personalized love and support for each member of the North Star community.
Regarding the newly constituted Executive Committee, Ty has said, “North Star is at an important inflection point in both our history and growth as an organization, and I’m excited to work with Dale, Sarrah, Blaine, and Greg—each a proven leader with a love for the gospel, for the Church, and for our community—to further the North Star mission and vision and to realize some very exciting initiatives and improvements we hope will bless many lives.”
Founded in 2006, North Star is a peer-led, community-driven organization—a grass-roots effort with a mission to empower men and women who experience same-sex attraction and gender identity issues, as well as their friends, spouses, or other family members, to more authentically and healthily live the gospel of Jesus Christ. North Star is successful because of the efforts of many individuals who contribute their time, talents, and hearts to various aspects of its mission. Though it is not a membership-based organization, North Star serves as a resource to the community through its website, thirteen on-line discussion groups organized around specific user demographics, quarterly firesides, an annual conference and the Voices of Hope project.
North Star is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and any publication or statement from North Star should not be interpreted as an official statement of Church doctrine, belief, or practice. While North Star wholly supports the doctrines and values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all views expressed or errors made are the sole responsibility of the organization’s contributors.