Avoiding difficult conversations about gender issues within a congregation can seem to be smart. Nobody gets their feelings hurt, or is put on the spot, or embarrassed by their own words. There are no shouting matches over church policies. Teenagers processing their identity are not put in a difficult position. Family members who disagree with each other can peaceably coexist. Pastoral careers are not jeopardized. However, neither is any progress made in understanding each other. People who feel ostracized, continue in that mode. The deep divide between people just gets deeper.
Recently, I attended “A Sanctuary for Conversation: Listening, Loving and Learning” held at the Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Glendale, California. There were about 100 other people at the event from a variety of congregations across Southern California, so I didn’t feel like the only stranger in a room full of people who all knew each other. Over four hours we had fun getting acquainted, listening and learning from each other. This was not a lecture event. After a few active learning exercises that served as mixers, we ended up at round tables with different people and then spent a little time getting acquainted with the person seated next to us.
Workbook - Resources - Conversations - Glossary - Terms
We each received a workbook of valuable resources for our conversations. There was a glossary of useful terms, key documents voted by the church, charts from a survey of Adventist LGBT+ Millennials showing the impact of family acceptance or rejection, diagrams about the genderbread person to help people better understand identity, expressions, and biological sex, plus an appendix of materials from a variety of published sources, including church welcoming statement samples. Intriguing quotes were sprinkled throughout.
Chris Blake, the recently retired English professor from Union College who developed the workbook and the workshop, led out. He did short informative interviews at...
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"However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8