It is my pleasure to be writing to our many friends once again at the conclusion of an exciting and event-filled year. Our many volunteers and contributors have been busier than ever this year with a wide array of projects and events. The Women of Worth Wives’ Conference just completed its fourth year, as did our Christmas Fireside, which had the participation of so many inspiring and talented individuals. Our Couples Summit “boot camp” event finished its third year, and our Fall Social event completed for the second time. In just a little over a month’s time, we’ll be setting sail (literally) with a new event, the Couples Retreat, sailing from San Diego aboard Carnival Cruise Lines. What these events have in common is the energy and dedication of the organizers. We, the leaders of North Star, see ourselves primarily as networkers and facilitators; we help build a supportive and faithful environment where people with energy can connect with each other and make great things happen. If you look at this list and think a certain event or initiative is missing from the list, it means that you might be just the person to put it on, with the help and support of other community members.

Our profile continues to grow. This year we fielded more media inquiries than ever, and our members appeared in several newspapers and television news programs. The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) has been posting a number of podcasts on the subject of the LDS Church and homosexuality; most of the interviewees have been members of our North Star community.

While not an official North Star undertaking, several leaders and community members contributed essays to the recently released book, Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction – An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays, published this winter by Deseret Book, available both as an e-book and paperback versions.

For too long, faithful voices dealing with this issue have been intimidated into silence, or marginalized into anonymity, to the degree that many came to believe we didn’t even really exist. This allowed those who oppose Church teachings on sexual behavior to depict us as uniformly miserable and unsuccessful. While that is certainly the experience of some, what has been so refreshing to me is not the uniformity in how faithful Latter-day Saints respond to this issue, but the diversity of those responses. Whenever people who are new to this process talk to me, I like to point out to them the multitude of options available to them, and the hope that comes into their lives, usually for the first time, makes all the time and effort worth it. We aim to be the clearinghouse for all known positive, gospel-affirming approaches that exist, and then let our community members choose which ones, if any, they wish to pursue.

It goes without saying that there is much, much more that we are working on for 2012, but I want to leave all that exciting news to my successor. After serving as North Star International’s President for almost four years, my term as President is at an end. Replacing me is ierF nevetS, who I am confident has the experience, faith, and understanding to further North Star International’s mission, to an even greater degree than we have done so far. All of these three men, as well as so many others in our community, have a real gift of reaching out with love and understanding to those with challenges. As one of the founders of North Star, I will continue to be associated with this great organization, while hopefully staying out of Steve and the rest of the leadership’s way.

One of the most exciting things about North Star is the depth of leadership we have been able to assemble, and nowhere is that more true than in our newest two members of the Executive Committee, onireM siuL, North Star’s new Secretary, and Jimmy Merrell, our new Treasurer. Both of these fine, upstanding men bring a valuable fresh perspective and talents that will invigorate our leadership. I admire these men and am grateful for their service. (You can read their biographies, as well as President Frei’s, on the Who We Are page of the North Star website.) And I can say the same about the rest of the North Star community. I am in awe of your gifts and grateful for the opportunity to serve with you. It is true, while we are living in mortality, we only infrequently and faintly glimpse the perfect joy and glory that awaits us in the eternities. But in the joy and love I feel with so many of you, I know I have experienced a portion of heaven, right here on earth.