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Grateful Steps iChange Message

CHANGING THE MESSAGE: Cruelty to persons who are gay is incompatible with Christian teaching

Grateful Steps Publishing House is pleased to announce the arrival of Changing the Message: Cruelty to persons who are gay is incompatible with Christian teaching, a new book by a North Carolina author, Julie Wood, about her son, an UNCA student who died by suicide. The boy had been viciously berated in front of his peers by a youth minister. The author is a Winston-Salem resident.

  The book is about a tragedy with a potential of great public interest. It challenges the hidden danger in the exclusionary language regarding homosexual behavior in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, an international organization.

Told from the perspective of a mother, Changing The Message shares the heart-breaking journey of a family navigating the loss of a child. The author’s son, Ben Wood, died from suicide after experiencing the catastrophic impact of bad interpretation of theology and rigid misapplication of principles of faith regarding his sexual identity. This journey, interwoven into a family narrative involving mental health and adoption, speaks to the importance of authenticity, grief and community. Although a narrative wrenched from the tragedy of Ben’s death, the author’s writing recounts how hope developed as her family learned new ways to thrive and educate others on the importance of ensuring each individual is a masterpiece of divine creation worthy of celebration.

From the book:

The day was ordinary. Even though evening was approaching, the sun shone brightly. Bill was mowing the grass in the front yard and was just past a group of three small trees in front of our bay window. The girls and I were doing normal summer evening things. I don’t remember exactly, but I may have been preparing dinner. Ben was not with us. He had gone to the church for an extra youth meeting to complete the final planning for a mission trip. It would be only a few days until the youth group would load the church bus and head to the mission site.

     Although the group had increasingly become a nest of conflict, confusion and stress, Ben really wanted to see this trip through. He loved helping paint, build porches or whatever else would benefit someone in need. “This is what the church is all about,” he told me. He also loved the camaraderie, teamwork and fun. He had committed to the mission trip.

     As I walked into the family room about ninety minutes after Ben had left, Ben’s car caught my eye through the bay window. It was fast and abrupt as it whipped into our driveway. Something is wrong! He is home early. I quickly walked to the front door. As I opened the door, Ben ran up the steps to our front porch. The intensity was palpable. The beautiful green eyes of my 16-year-old child locked directly into mine. Tears filled his lids in a pool that was just about to spill over. His cheeks were flushed, his breathing rapid and his lips . . . oh his lips quivered as he formed words with great effort and despite the contortion of his face on the verge of crying.

       “He has yelled at me for an hour!” Ben said. “He made my friends say they were not comfortable with me and that I was going to hell. ‘I’m sorry for anything I have done,’ I told him. He said that he did not believe me.”


The traffic did not slow me down more than five minutes, and I was soon in my neighborhood. I made the left turn into our cul-de-sac and could see two police cars parked just past my house. I pulled in my driveway and parked as the cars pulled in behind me.

       I got out of the car and smiled at the officers. “Hello. How are you?”

       They spoke gently and smiled slightly. “May we go inside, please?”

       One of the officers said, “Ma’am, can you show me some identification,


       I picked back up my pocketbook, dug through for my wallet, and as my fingers

 filed through my cards, I noticed that my hands were quivering. I wonder if my

 body knew before my mind did. I found my license.

      The officer had a small notebook and began recording my information as I

waited. When he finished, he took a deep breath as the other officer stood solemnly

but kindly by. “Do you have a son in Asheville?” he asked.

     I nodded. “Yes.”

     “Ma’am. He is no longer with us.”           


Author Julie Wood is available for interviews, as well as book signings, programs and readings. Changing the Message, the first book for this author, is published by Grateful Steps, an Asheville-based traditional, independent, non-profit publisher. The book can be purchased at the Grateful Steps Bookshop and other area bookstores. It may also be obtained online at and at and For more information about the book or its author, please visit Grateful Steps  or call Grateful Steps, 828-277-0998.

Meet the author at her book launch later this year when social distancing is further relaxed. We will announce the location, date and time. Refreshments and beverages will be provided at this free even

SheVille Team

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