The Orlando, Fla., based Exodus International, which calls itself the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, announced Thursday that it would cease its operations.

The group's president, Alan Chambers, said in a statement that he wanted to apologize to the gay community "for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the church as a whole."

A gay-rights group, Truth Wins Out, said it welcomed Chambers' "integrity and authenticity."

"It takes a real man to publicly confront the people whose lives were destroyed by his organization's work, and to take real, concrete action to begin to repair that damage," the group's associate director, Evan Hurst, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.