(RNS) Gay and supportive alumni of Wheaton College have formed a new organization following a recent chapel series at the flagship evangelical school on “Sexuality and Wholeness.”
More than 400 signatories have signed an open letter to students at the Christian college in suburban Chicago to present an alternative message to one from a chapel speaker who supports gay celibacy.

“The recent chapel message on Sexuality and Wholeness and surrounding conversations may have left you feeling alienated, ashamed and afraid,” reads the open letter. “Many of us felt trapped and unable to respond honestly to these messages while we were students.”

Matthew Gore, a spokesman for OneWheaton and a 2004 Wheaton alumnus, said the group wants gay and lesbian students at the school to know that they have support among gay alumni.

“As it is, most of those students would be afraid to talk to anybody,” he said. “That’s just the environment there.”

In an emailed response to the letter, Wheaton President Philip Ryken told students that the school considers gay people members “of the human family as created in the image of God himself,” but remains committed to its covenant that condemns homosexual behavior.

“Many have experienced insensitive or callous responses in this community, for which we repent and seek forgiveness,” he wrote, adding the school condemns violence and injustice toward gays.

Wheaton spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said the recent chapel series addressed pornography and abstinence and included a sermon from Wheaton alumnus Wesley Hill, author of “Washed and Waiting,” who “spoke from the perspective of a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction but has chosen to pursue celibacy.”

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