Dear Grace Community,
Last spring the Grace Session invited you to participate in listening sessions regarding same-sex marriage. People were able to share feelings, and Session members heard a wide range of views. These were not debates but time to talk and listen.
Same-sex marriage is now permitted, though not required, in the Presbyterian Church USA, the denomination Grace is part of. Since the Supreme Court ruling this summer, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. The Grace session has discussed how else we might engage the congregation before making a decision about whether or not Grace will allow same-sex marriages.
As your pastor it is clear to me that we will not be of one mind on this issue. There are far too many opinions and convictions in this congregation. Instead, my hope is that we can remain a unified church no matter what we decide.
With that as my hope and with the Session’s encouragement I reached out to two men this spring and summer. These two men lead organizations with differing viewpoints and yet have found a way to work together. They are Paul Detterman from the Fellowship of Presbyterians and Brian Ellison from the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. The Fellowship is opposed to same-sex marriage while the Covenant Network is in favor of it.
Last year as presbyteries debated this issue Paul and Brian spoke together before many of those meetings, not debating one another, but both speaking honestly about their opinions and their convictions about same-sex marriage and the importance of church unity.
Our Session invited Paul and Brian to Grace, and we host them on Tuesday evening September 29. We’ll have a casual dinner from 5:45-6:15 pm for $7, and the program is from 6:30-8 pm in the Great Room. Both men will speak, and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Please make plans to attend.
I know that many of you know how you feel and will not change your minds on this issue. That is fine, but it’s important that we know how to be a church with people we disagree with.
In preparation for their visit we are offering a book study in the weeks leading up to September 29. We will read two books, one recommended by Paul and the other by Brian. The books are Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill and The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage by Mark Achtemeier.
The study group meets Sundays August 23 and 30, September 13, 20, and 27 from 2-3:30 pm in the Grace Parlor. Copies of the books are available at Grace for $22 total, or you may purchase them on your own. Please reach out to me or anyone on the Session if you’d like to talk about any of this.