Last October I wrote about the development of Reconciling Conversations at First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, here in western North Carolina. At the time, we had put together a little book of stories from members of our congregation about their life, struggles, and faith as Gay and Lesbian members of our church, as parents, friends and families of Gay and Lesbian people, and as “ordinary members” who had experienced a long journey toward greater acceptance and understanding of people of differing gender identities and sexual orientations. At the same time, we put together a series of nine presentations on psychology, Scripture, theology, and ethics to enable people to explore some crucial dimensions of these complex matters.
The experience exceeded our greatest expectations, with over fifty people attending for not just nine but eleven weeks of meetings throughout the fall. At the same time, people picked up the book for themselves, their families, and friends. Groups in Georgia and South Carolina began using it in churches and high schools to inspire them to write their own stories. We had a second in-house printing, which started going fast. Marshall Jones, one of our conversation group, with experience in editing and publishing, began to put together an edition through CreateSpace, the Amazon self-publishing arm. With a heightened attractiveness, covers, and minor editing—but the same stories—it is now available on-line for only $3.60.
Here is what the back cover says about the book:
Our congregation lived in silence to the pain and suffering of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered people in the midst of our families, friendships, and community. Inspired by simple gatherings of prayer and conversation, we began to talk to one another in circles of trusting and confidential conversation. Out of that experience we decided to put together this book of stories from members of our own congregation.
The response to these stories has been so overwhelming that we have now issued these stories as a book for the general public, available through Amazon.com and other book retailers.
We hope this little book can serve as a starting point for telling your own stories as your communities and congregations struggle toward a life of more acceptance, openness, forgiveness, and vitality.
Indeed, you’re invited to start your own conversations, story-telling, and explorations in your own context. The book contains a number of references to resources about circle conversations, roundtable worship, and LGBT ministries. The stories themselves are available online at our blogsite. We have set up a Facebook page where we hope to put links soon to our presentations from last fall, which are now on YouTube.com. Give us a “Like” and let us know what you’re doing.
Here’s how to get the book:
Go to www.CreateSpace.com/5530839 or to www.Amazon.com.
Pass it on. Widen the circle. As our church motto says, “Welcome ALL. Grow in Faith. Engage the World.”