Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dialogue on Homosexuality

Homosexual Dialogue – September 22nd:  Dialogue - not debate

On September 22nd  the first of three “Dialogues on Homosexuality” was held at Gretna Glen Camp.  During this event there was conversation about the paragraphs in the United Methodist Discipline that state that homosexuality is contrary to Christian teaching,  that self-avowed practicing homosexuals are banned from ordination, and that no pastor is allowed to perform same-sex holy unions.

About 80 people came to this gathering which was co-sponsored by the Reconciling Ministries of EPA and the Evangelical Connection of EPA.  Dr. Karin Walker, a District Superintendent from the Baltimore-Washington Conference was the facilitator.  Dr. Walker had led an initiative in the Baltimore-Washington Conference in the past that brought people together on this issue for conversation and learning.

The process involved an introduction to the idea of dialogue rather than debate and to have conversations where people can hear each other’s hearts.  A 60-minute video which was produced by the Reconciling and Evangelical committees was shown.  The video consisted of a  prepared  15-minute position talk and 3 five-minute testimonies of people who either were homosexual  in orientation or who had been and transitioned to a straight lifestyle.  The video was shown with each piece alternating from one perspective to the other.  A broad sweep of Biblical, social, interpersonal, and societal issues were covered in the video.  Some of the personal testimonies were tearful and all of them were compelling and well-prepared.

After the video and a short break the group broke into groups of about 8 people and the group shared their hearts around what they heard in the video and where there was common ground.  Following the small group discussion there was a wrap-up session.  The response to this event was overwhelmingly positive.  Everyone agreed that holy conferencing around difficult issues is possible when we listen to one another.

There will still be two other events: Saturday, October 6th (9 am – 1 pm at St. Matthews UMC in Valley Forge) and Saturday, November 17th (9 am – 1 pm at Solebury UMC in Newtown).  To register go to the EPA website: https://www.epaumc.org/news/stories/dialogues-on-homosexuality-sign-up.  Each event is identical and everyone is welcome.