Congregations Talking about Homosexuality: Dialogue on a Difficult Issue

by Beth Ann Gaede. The Alban Institute, 1998.

Seeking to help congregations “become places where people can talk about homosexuality in a helpful and respectful manner,” this book presents the stories of seven congregations that struggled with welcoming and affirming sexual minorities. This book provides leaders with constructive processes to help with difficult conversations. It will not address the ethical, moral, or theological issues surrounding homosexuality. The first part of the book offers helpful guidelines for “dismantling emotional grenades.” Congregations go through common stages of difficult dialogue including confusion, comparison, tolerance, and acceptance. Specific recommendations are offered to pastoral leadership such as reminding people of God’s presence, encouraging deepening relationships, and distinguishing morality from pastoral care. The second part of the book provides seven unique examples of congregations across the country that addressed sexuality through conversations and at times announced publicly their position. These case studies illustrate the struggle required for faithful communities to act on what they believe God requires. The third part of the book uses helpful frameworks for examining a polarized topic like homosexuality. For example, a leader must navigate a congregation between the tensions of constructive conflict and harmonious dishonesty. This book provides wonderful support and guidance for a pastor or lay leader hoping to shepherd difficult conversations through safe pastures.