There have been a number of happenings in the last few days that I’ve been percolating on …..
A pastor called, having received our invitation to Relevant Engagement. He wanted to know more about New Direction and how a congregation might begin to engage a more open conversation about these matters. It seems that about 15% of the congregation are aware that a daughter in one of the church families will be marrying her partner later in the year. The reality is that people have different perspectives, different questions, different priorities and different concerns. A conversation, like the ones New Direction nurtures, helps people understand how to extend generous spaciousness to each other, giving each other the freedom to seek, to listen, to wrestle, and to ultimately discern how Christ is leading.
Another pastor came to visit me. Some time back he’d received an email from a leader he knew who is engaged in ex-gay ministry. The leader warned the pastor that New Direction had been deceived by the enemy and asking him to pray against us. This email didn’t sit well with this particular pastor, so he called the leader saying that he’d looked at our website and didn’t find anything that concerned him or raised red flags for him. He told the other leader that he wanted the space to ask questions. A while later, he ordered our dvd set and took the time to watch them. Then he called me and set up a time to meet in person. We talked for nearly three hours about the many complex points of tension in pastoring a congregation through this kind of topic, extending pastoral care to people, wrestling with interpretive issues, leading leadership to understand how to engage, discerning how to consider cultural context. It was an invigorating conversation. He asked a lot of great questions. There was a sense of peace and grace in our conversation.
I heard a bit about the new ex-gay network conference. I’d thought it was called Restoring Hope ….. but it came to my attention that it is actually called Restored Hope. This struck me in its tone. Perhaps this is only my perception …. But it seems like this purports to say, “We have now restored hope. Period. The end.” Restoring hope would have at least given the impression that there is some sort of process, that isn’t yet complete ….. some sense that they are part of something larger which together works towards hope. I saw a picture of the new board for this network and recognized all the faces. These are people I’ve broken bread with, prayed with, laughed with. I heard some things, albeit second-hand, that seem harsher and more rigid than my memories of my friends. And I feel sadness that territory seems to be getting staked out, lines in the sand drawn, and