Church with My Gay Brothers and Sisters
by Kristyn Komarnicki
When I attended my first Gay Christian Network conference in 2012, I was unprepared for the level of spiritual nourishment and encouragement I would find there. The power of God and the sincerity of attendees' faith were undeniable, and I experienced deep and joyful worship alongside hundreds of Christians who knew something about God's grace that I did not yet know. I wrote about that experience, and some other related discoveries, here.
Well, I have to say, I was addicted. This was true church—united with my sisters and brothers at the foot of the cross. I couldn't go last year, but earlier this month I returned for the 2014 conference, where I heard the heart-quaking testimony of Linda and Rob Robertson, who learned through much pain and suffering how to love their gay son unconditionally. We heard from Rachel Held Evans on "What's So Annoying About Grace?"—namely, that it's as freely available to the guy we despise as to ourselves!
Workshops covered everything from building a family of choice (aimed at those who choose celibacy) and the wait-until-marriage movement within the gay Christian community, to "Praying the Scriptures with a Gay Heart" and how parents can advocate for their children who are gay.
I had the honor of being there this year not only as an attendee but also as a workshop leader. My friend John Backman, a dialogue expert and the author of Why Can't We Talk?, and I led 60 people in a discussion and exercises around the topic of "Safety Tips for Crossing the Divide"—in other words, how to enter into difficult dialogue with folks we don't see eye-to-eye with.
John (an introvert who loves to pray and meditates regularly with a group of Episcopal monks) led the group in a silent prayer and visualization exercise that helped us invite Jesus into the "heartspace" occupied by a person who drives us crazy. He talked about how real dialogue starts with cultivating habits of the heart—the practice of silent prayer and of praying through and studying the scriptures, for example.
I (an extrovert who loves to entertain people, ideas, and conversations, whether in print or in person) led the group in a storytelling exercise that helped us identify new insights in a relationship where we might be feeling stuck. I talked about the power of modeling vulnerability, showing hospitality, seeking to genuinely know the other, and repenting when we fail.
We all experienced 90 minutes of rich Christian community. It was delightful to be able to give back to the Gay Christian Network crowd after all they've given me. Several of the folks I saw there will be participating in ESA's next Oriented to Love dialogue. I would love to have you pray for that event!