The second event that The Coalition held was an inclusive pastor’s roundtable that took place in Long Beach. What does inclusive pastor mean? In layman’s terms, it’s a pastor who is gay or lesbian or a pastor of a gay (or gay affirming) church. The broader scope of The Marin Foundation’s bridge building framework for systemic change between the GLBT and conservative religious communities is the following:
Host a conservative pastor’s roundtable to lay out our bridge building work
Host an inclusive pastor’s roundtable to lay out our bridge building work
After both have been given the new paradigm training, introduce them to each other for the start of peaceful and productive dialogue.
After that, introduce their congregations to one another as well for peaceful and productive dialogue.
After that, set up a framework of serving in the community, churches and being able to make a significant impact for the Kingdom together while still being able to recognize each’s theological differences.
After that, create a self-sustaining bridge building committee in the local community to continue this work.
After that, continue to follow-up and make sure everything is still running as if The Marin Foundation were still present.
Don’t think it can happen? Wrong. It has, and it is! Do you want to bring this to your city … hit us up and we’ll be there in a heart beat!
Anyway, at this last inclusive pastor’s roundtable were 17 of the most prominent gay pastors in Southern California. So many conservatives ask me:
How do you do it? Do they hate you? Do they yell? Do you yell? Does it get ugly quick? How do you handle their tough questions? Etc….
If there is ONE thing that I have learned over the years it is that the GLBT community is dying to be able to enter into safe, peaceful and productive dialogue with conservatives; they just don’t ever think it will go well or be any of those desired things – so they just don’t even try anymore. The crazy part is when there is a “third party” bridge builder providing the framework, environment, experiences and facilitating the conversation, miracles happen as the Lord is able to freely work and maneuver without the restrictions of human pride, hurt and vengefulness taking over.
I would be lying to you if I said these types of events are not without their moments of tension or skepticism. In fact, it's expected! Why should anyone in the gay or lesbian community trust me or the Coalition (even those who are gay and a part of the Coalition) without us ever tangible proving ourselves first and foremost that we are trustable?! Thus, the tension and skepticism is exactly where most everyone starts. And unfortunately I don’t believe many people actually want to ever enter into that place of tension … so technically, that is where everything ends just as quickly then. But willfully and intentionally entering into that scary place to just ‘be’ in real-time with someone else is an experience I always cherish (that is retrospectively cherish by the way – it’s always difficult and uncomfortable in the moment!). But regardless of any of those negative or awkwardness’s, the result is always a unique place of growth that pushes all involved to new places that were always once thought to be off limits. And the ‘elder statesman’ gay pastor who was in attendance spoke up towards the end and said that this was the:
“very first time all of us [the gay pastors in Southern California] have ever gotten together in the same place at the same time! And because of that, I [the elder statesman gay pastor] know this Coalition is doing things that have never been done before. I’m on board and can’t wait to get involved.”
Wow! It’s comments like that, that make me realize we’re changing lives while plowing a new path – one that has never been plowed. As my Dad says, “when the Spirit of the Lord moves, just move with it!” Amen Dad!
One quick example:
One of the gay pastor’s from West Hollywood (the Boystown of So-Cal) who had been quite cynical from the get-go, pulled me over to the side after that day’s roundtable was completed. He looked me in the eyes and said,
“When I told my colleagues that I was coming to this thing they all looked at me and told me I was walking right into a trap and I would regret even thinking of trying to be a part of something like this. And I can tell you right now that I am going to go back to all of them and let them know they were dead wrong. I am so grateful to have come today and be a part of this exciting new experience. Thank you.”
The Spirit is moving, so let’s just move with Him!!!!