Life at the Edge of Schism

A reflection by Lindsey

I’m blessed to know a large number of Christians passionate about loving LGBT people. While most of my friends in this category would feel comfortable describing themselves as LGBT, I also know many straight Christians who care about having thoughtful conversations as well as Christians who would rather say that they have struggled or currently struggle with same-sex attraction. Over the years, it’s been interesting to see what kind of topics tend to ignite spirited conversations. My Facebook feed is a great place for every sort of news item on the intersection between LGBT people and Evangelical churches. As it stands, I was well-positioned to see the opening of a new church called Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor.

Normally I wouldn’t be writing a reflection about the opening of a new church, but the story of Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor connects with a surprising number of places on my own spiritual journey. Ann Arbor first bleeped across my radar when I noticed then-Vineyard pastor Ken Wilson talking about a new approach to discussing LGBT people in the church. The blurb caught my attention, and I immediately reached out to Ken because I was so impressed to see a Vineyard pastor making a public declaration that LGBT people should be “welcomed and wanted” by local churches. We reviewed A Letter to My Congregation a few months later while I held my breath wondering what would happen in the Vineyard Church as a whole. The response of most Vineyard churches to questions of homosexuality has been to offer Living Waters programs, arguably one of the best known “healing” programs for people “struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.” When I saw the announcement for Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor, I realized that something had happened. Indeed, Ken’s position on pastoral care for LGBT people had lead to another schism in the church.

As far as I can tell, the Ann Arbor story goes something like this: Ken Wilson had been talking and writing about responding to the shifting pastoral care needs of LGBT people in his congregation. Vineyard USA had tended towards silence on the issue. But then Ken published A Letter to My Congregation. Vineyard USA responded to the book with an 90-page position paper entitled “Pastoring LGBT Persons” that does, to its credit, use LGBT language and refers to LGBT people as persons. The Executive Team of Vineyard USA wrote a letter to the Ann Arbor Vineyard basically asking the church to agree publicly with the position paper in order to remain affiliated with the organization. What seems to have happened is that the Ann Arbor Vineyard now has 1 pastor and the newly established Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor has 2 pastors, ostensibly dividing the existing community. Additionally, there are other churches that have jettisoned their affiliation with the Vineyard movement in the wake of the position paper.

The Ann Arbor story hits closer to home than our readers might realize. While I’ve never lived in Michigan, I was a member of the Cambridge Vineyard Church when I attended university in Boston from 2001 to 2005. It’s safe to say that a lot has happened in the intervening decade, both in my life and in Evangelical Christianity. I learned so much about following Jesus and trying to do church with other people while at the Cambridge Vineyard. It was difficult to leave Boston after graduation, but God had other plans. I remember choosing the Cambridge Vineyard halfway through my freshman year because it looked like it was a place willing to have some honest conversations about homosexuality. (The other church I had been attending at that time viewed almost any problem as an opportunity to exorcise demons, which totally freaked me out.) I hadn’t even started coming out to myself, so I had a metric ton of questions. Being at the Cambridge Vineyard gave me reassurance that I could build my faith on the idea of trying to give my life fully to following Jesus. It certainly wasn’t a perfect church community. Needless to say, I was rather pleasantly surprised when I learned that Dave Schmelzer (who was the lead pastor of the Cambridge Vineyard during my time there) is actively working to help Blue Ocean Faith churches.

I’ve spent the last few days reading deeper into what happened at the Ann Arbor Vineyard. In many ways, it feels like a story that might have happened at any church I’ve attended. It’s way too easy to see myself in the story. Coming to faith in Evangelical communities, I’ve always wondered if my life had the potential to cause a scandal that would rock any group I was a part of. In college, I got involved in ex-gay ministries because I viewed my questions about sexual orientation and gender identity as a kind of ticking time-bomb that would eventually explode and destroy my faith community. It’s been an uphill battle to figure out how to think about my own queer experience as anything other than a liability.

So much of the challenge has been encountering church leaders who always felt the need to warn me about impropriety. Truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a person with lower risk factors than myself for living a “scandalous” lifestyle marked by partying and free-wheeling sexuality. When I was in high school, I was the kid who always buttoned the top button and tucked in my shirt. I had no interest in showing skin and still experience regular frustration with shopping for clothes that fit right. I don’t know what would have happened if I had been in an Evangelical church where the leaders committed to helping me follow Christ in an atmosphere of generous spaciousness around questions of who I loved and how to love these people best.

Much of my journey has involved carving out a sense of generous spaciousness for myself. I’ve made the argument time and time again, “Human beings have meaningful relationships with other human beings because that is a part of what it means to be created in the image of a triune God.” When I started to say that all humans have meaningful relationships with other people, I discovered ways to live in rich friendships where the word friend failed to capture the mystery of those relationships. Meeting Sarah showed me how things look and feel different when two people fall into an organic pattern of relating with one another. I’ve been blessed to have some wonderful spiritual directors who have been able to walk with me on my journey. When it comes to the particulars of my relationship with Sarah, we take joy in the fact that we’re figuring things out as we go along.

I don’t know how a compassionate Evangelical pastor would respond to my life with Sarah. I could see this hypothetical pastor asking himself or herself whether it made sense for me to marry Sarah even with our commitment to celibacy. After all, many Evangelical pastors I’ve met over the years would say that in marriage two people seek God’s blessing upon their relationship and formalize their promises to one another in the presence of witnesses. I could see this pastor asking Sarah and me a ton of questions about how we’ve struggled to navigate different facets of health care access. I wonder how this pastor would encourage the two of us to share our commonly held prayer requests with our faith community. I really have no idea how I would handle talking with a pastor who had these sorts of questions, but I do know that it’s an amazing surprise whenever a person decides to let me know that he or she cares about walking with me along my journey. But I wonder if this hypothetical pastor would feel like he or she was teetering at the edge of a schism for even asking thoughtful questions about our relationship and any pastoral needs that might arise when two people are in such a relationship.

Many Evangelical churches do not have any tradition of celibacy lived in community. I wonder if a compassionate Evangelical pastor would investigate different ways Christians have shared life together over the years. Would he or she stumble upon skete monasticism? If so, would this hypothetical pastor feel like he or she could help us discern our vocation as a community of two? Would this pastor perceive that his or her only option would be to pray with us on the condition that all three of us never said a word to anyone else?

Living in community creates some interesting tension points. I’m rather used to feeling like I live at the edge of schism. I’ve been counseled more times than I can imagine to live in silence, to keep quiet, and to stay out of sight lest the issue erupt. That’s part of what it means to be closeted. But I wonder how much longer people can fit into the closet when trying to provide faithful pastoral care to LGBT Christians. I’ve seen families who have gone into hiding with their loved ones. I’m sure there are many pastors who have taken the route of “I will pray with you, but please don’t tell anyone else that I’m journeying alongside of you.” The whole situation reminds me of playing “Sardines” as a youth group kid. After a while, the game turns comical because all of the youth are trying to hide in exactly the same spot. There’s no hiding anymore.

How is it that any, and seemingly all, conversations about providing pastoral care for LGBT people happen at the edge of schism? Lord have mercy.

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29 thoughts on “Life at the Edge of Schism

  1. I think that closely following Jesus always leads to the edges, the margins, the periphery as Pope Francis puts it. Jesus also lived his life on the edge of schism because committed discipleship leads to conflict with religious and political power systems.

    OTOH, your kind relationship is well within the Christian tradition and schism, properly speaking, is a denial of some key dogma, eg the divinity of christ, not some moral theory about homosexuality, which is not dogma but merely teaching, subject to possible change.

    God bless

    • Thanks for your comment Chris. Here, I am using a less technical definition for schism where schism is a “a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.”

      I’m discussing an event that happened in the Vineyard Church. Namely with the publishing of their position paper “Pastoring LGBT People” the Vineyard Church asked its member churches to agree that they would not marry a same-sex couple nor license/ordain an LGBT pastor. This decision has caused a number of previously affiliated churches to leave Vineyard USA, where at least some of those congregations have reorganized within the Blue Ocean Faith Network. That constitutes a schism.

      It’s also exceptionally unclear to me what would happen in the case of the hypothetical Evangelical pastor. Generally speaking, I would see most pastors choosing to walk a line where they never address the relationship I share with Sarah publicly. From everything I’ve seen, I can’t imagine a situation where a pastor wouldn’t face consequences of some description for publicly acknowledging our relationship.

    • I don’t know much about U.S. Evagelicalism today (I am not an Evangelical and I live on the other side of the planet to the USA), but I know some very conservative US Catholic Bishops have publicly endorsed (eg in forwards to books) gay Catholic couples living together chastely.

      Some of our ultra-conservative Catholics notwithstanding, I don’t think most Catholic pastors would have much difficulty publicly acknowledging your relationship. My own Bishop publicly said : “The Catholic Church affirms love, fidelity and commitment in all relationships”.

      God Bless

      • It’s difficult to comment on exactly how any hypothetical pastor in any tradition would respond to our situation. We’ve been grateful to meet some truly fantastic spiritual directors who have walked quietly with us.

    • Thanks for your kind words. We’re trying to muddle along and find our way, but we’re always grateful for friends on the journey.

  2. Thank you for this information about the fascinating Blue Ocean church network as well as the Ann Arbor community which I hope to visit before too long as it’s only a couple hours away from us (and on the way to my in-laws’ place). The websites for both the network and the Ann Arbor group are fascinating and the latter includes the information that the female pastor is engaged to another woman–presumably also a highly relevant feature in the discernment to switch affiliations along with the straight male pastor’s advocacy of welcome to LGBT folks. (I was also fascinated to see that he is married to the Episcopal priest daughter of friends from my Episcopal church here in Holland MI). It also includes a description of Third Way that is more fully welcoming–via explicitly declaring the absolute equality of same sex couples, even while consciously rejecting “affirming” language implying that everyone must agree on the morality of gay sex and relationships–than my previous impressions of that stance had been. Not sure if that is just because of my lack of full understanding or a different approach from other people and groups who use the language.

    • Hi Mother Laura, we reviewed the Third Way, and I think that I would say that it’s a path of reasoned discernment where every person is encouraged to grow towards Christ. Emily Swan (one of the pastors of Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor) was already serving as a pastor at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. If I have the timeline right, she had been a pastor well before coming out and well before announcing her engagement. Part of Ken Wilson’s reasons for breaking with Vineyard USA was that he couldn’t imagine dismissing Emily as a pastor (for more complete remarks, see http://annarborvineyard.org/resources/online-sermons-a-music/865). Going forward practically in a Third Way church likely means walking with anyone and everyone to discern how they might best follow Christ. Since every person is an individual, likely everyone’s spiritual journeys will have different textures.

      • Thanks for your insights here and for the link to Ken’s in depth statement which illuminates the concrete situation with this community and movements as well as food for thought on larger issues of ecclesial relationships when serious disagreements exist.

        • Glad the fuller statement was helpful. For me, questions about the Third Way are how we differentiate between private and public judgment of other people’s lives and situations. I’m sure that there are many people I know who would advise me to live on my own if I were to ever ask them the question. Truth be told, I’m inviting their honest answer if I were to ask them a direct question like, “What do you think about me living with Sarah?” I decided long ago (before I even met Sarah) that I’m not going to make my living situation the point of public debate, so I’ve stopped asking about it.

          The choice to stop asking has also influenced how I approach other people in different situations. I recognize that there are probably things that I don’t understand about their situations. I do pray that people are talking through specific kinds of situations with a spiritual director, but I find myself focusing more on my own efforts to grow towards Christ rather than nitpicking about other people’s lives.

  3. Thanks for this, Lindsey. I feel this constantly, and am trying to learn how to live under question, facing the very defenses and weapons I used to wield, and having no nice, rational answer–clinging to faith in mercy, charity, and a respect for how much we don’t know, more than anything clearer or more definitive.

    This morning a visiting priest preached fervently to our parish about the need for there to be no outcasts in church. He covered just about every imaginable rejected group, and minced no words about how important it is that we straighten out the way our churches treat the LGBTQ community. I was in tears of gratitude by the end.

    It was a year ago today that a friend broke down my own defenses and made an ally of me. I am more grateful for that experience than I can express. My Christianity is a choice made out of agnosticism, but if God is as real as I hope he is, I believe his hand was more obvious in that moment than in almost any other single aspect of my life. I am so glad I was not left in my merciless blindness.

    As always, I appreciate your and Sarah’s example and ideas regarding how to interface with these questions and issues. Thanks so very much for your witness.

    • Hi Jenna, thanks for the comment. Getting to know people who invite you to question how you approach issues is such an important part of spiritual growth. There are a ton of stereotypes out there about many groups where getting to know many people helps us see gaps in our own thinking.

    • I am glad to have seen this comment. Jenna, you said so well what I have experienced (except for the visiting priest and the tears of gratitude),, both as a questioner-then-convert and as an ally–though I hesitate to use that word because it seems to further separates us into camps.  And like you, I heartily endorse, support, encourage Lindsey and Sarah, two person-models for me, in their work.

      • Hi Albert, thanks for your comment. About the use of the word “ally,” so many of the people I respect the most are people who reach out in consistent friendship. Sometimes the best way to be an ally is to be an authentic friend. We’re always glad to see you in the comments!

  4. Lindsey, thank you for this reflection and for the update on the BOF movement.

    I’m not sure I follow your statement about seeing yourself in this story. Is there anything in the Vineyard position paper that would speak against your relationship with Sarah? Isn’t it the issue of gay couples who are not celibate that is precipitating this schism?

    I fully understand the that you have experienced much difficulty at the hands of pastors who didn’t know what to do with you as a LGBT person, but it seems to me (from my brief reading) that the Vineyard position paper would tend to support your position more than that of such a pastor. Am I mistaken?

    On a possibly related note, I’m not sure I understand your reference to marrying Sarah. Was that a hypothetical statement of some kind? I understand that a civil partnership would be legally advantageous in a number of ways, but is marriage in the eyes of the church something that is on your radar?

    • Hi Matt. I’ll let Lindsey get to this, but I thought it might be helpful to clarify a couple of things before Lindsey has time to respond. I think Lindsey was saying that a hypothetical pastor might actually advise the two of us to get married civilly to meet our legal needs even though a marriage is not something we want because we see our vocation as a celibate partnership. Marriage, either in the eyes of the Church or in the eyes of the law, is not something that is on our radar. Also, I think Lindsey’s piece in general was intended to be more about how LGBT people, celibate or not, often live in fear of schism occurring in churches because of LGBT issues. Speaking for myself, regardless of how my own beliefs may differ from others I am always saddened to hear of schisms. I hope this helps a bit before Lindsey gets to your comment. -Sarah

      • I apologize for my confusion on this point. I was basically reading that paragraph to say the opposite of what it intended, but I see the meaning now. Thanks.

    • Hi Matt, thanks for your comment. Sorry it took me a bit to get to your comment 🙂

      The Blue Ocean Faith movement is a diverse set of folks. The requirements for membership are at http://blueoceanfaith.org/#/home/blue-ocean-churches, and I would like to note that there are Vineyard USA Churches that are also a part of Blue Ocean Faith (which you can see at http://blueoceanfaith.org/#/cohorts/participants). The VUSA Position Paper on Pastoring LGBT Persons is a relatively recent shift in official policy (dated August 2014). The previous letter on diversity came in 2011 which you can read at http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101892059098-444/National+Director+Letter+1.10.11-2.pdf I think the paragraph on women and ministry heading page 11 is reasonably illustrative of VUSA’s historic approach to many controversial issues.

      My own history with the Vineyard is complex. During my time in Vineyard churches, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 was referenced frequently when providing pastoral care for LGBT people. Any time I brought up questions of my sexual orientation and gender identity, I was encourage to lay claim of my “true identity” in Christ where that truth was necessarily straight and cisgender. I was constantly exhorted to avoid any appearance of evil and attended a few Vineyard churches where I was asked to step down from ministry teams because of my questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

      So much of my hesitation around the VUSA position paper concerns its attitude toward pastoral care found on page 14 “When we are talking about Christian ethics, we’re talking about God’s ideal, God’s will, and God’s intention for (in this case) our sexuality. If we’re talking about Christian pastoral care, we’re talking about how we relate to people who fall short of God’s ideal.” I’ve never been especially comfortable with the idea that pastoral care is for when we fall short of what God would have for us. I think pastoral care is a constant need, and honestly, sometimes it’s most needed when we’re living as fully as possible into what God has for us. Jesus wasn’t falling short of God’s ideal on the cross, but there was real care extended. We wouldn’t have learned about Christ’s resurrection in the same way if the women stayed away from the tomb. Extending pastoral care makes each of us that much more alive with the love of Christ. It shouldn’t be going in with a fix-it mentality.

      The bottom of page 14 also gives me considerable pause: “There is also much confusion regarding what we mean by ‘homosexuality.’ Are we talking about someone’s identity, in other words a person in our congregation checks a box: gay, heterosexual or bisexual? Are we talking about sexual orientation in which a person is attracted to or has sexual feelings for someone of the same sex? Or are we talking about sexual behavior in which someone decides to act on their desires by being physical intimate with someone of the same-sex? How we self-identify and how we behave are clearly choices. But we may, in fact, have very little choice regarding our feelings of attraction.” Specifically, this paragraph appears to authorize aggressive language policing where LGBT people should be dissuaded from even checking off LGBT language on a form because that’s a kind of “identity” statement. This kind of statement leaves me feeling absolutely unclear on where celibate LGBT people stand within VUSA churches. While the Position Paper does reference one celibate gay Christian (Wesley Hill) on page 15, it is entirely unclear as to how pastors should pastor a person like Wesley in their congregations. My own inclination is to advise LGBT people attending VUSA churches to keep silent about their orientation until they’ve seen some clear indications that a particular local church can handle respectful conversations about LGBT topics.

      I think that Vineyard pastors trying to advise people like me and Sarah are caught in a very tough bind. My own reading of the document is that some pastors might silently journey with us and seek to know our story. Given the theological diversity in the Vineyard movement as a whole, I can’t imagine the diversity of opinions I’d encounter about the nature of marriage. One thing that’s notable about Ken Wilson’s position is that he referenced the call to “Bless your enemies” in the same breath as talking about performing a wedding. He said, “As I see it, performing a wedding doesn’t mean I am giving my moral approval or yours to the couple. I offer blessing, which is different than moral approval (we are called to bless even our enemies).” (source: http://annarborvineyard.org/resources/online-sermons-a-music/865). I wouldn’t be surprised if this logic has broader resonance within VUSA, but interestingly, I cannot find any definitive statement in the position paper regarding what relationships Vineyard pastors should bless other than a relationship between a man and a woman. But I do think that any VUSA pastor interested in trying to figure out how to offer his or her blessing to a celibate LGBT couple would likely abort that particular intellectual exercise lest he or she winds up on the “wrong” side of the foul line.

      As for me specifically, I’m not interested in getting married to Sarah. I am interested in doing what I can do to access legal protections, but I’ve pretty much decided that no good option exists. Many states have done away with civil unions after extending marriage to same-sex couples. We’re currently exceptionally lucky because my employer has a more inclusive healthcare access policy. I’d also wager a guess that any VUSA pastor known to advocate for LGBT people accessing civil marriage to a person of the same sex (for any reason) would be held in the highest suspicion because of the nature of this particular position paper.

      Sorry for the length of this comment! -Lindsey

      • Thanks for the examples. I do understand that VUSA has a ways to go before sensible ministry to LGBTQ folks is seamlessly available. I think that’s also true of my church family and you might say it’s true of yours also. I’m concerned that Blue Ocean has charged so enthusiastically towards the happy medium that it has crashed way past it, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

        • I think the church has a long way to go before LGBTQ people have access to sensible ministry. I don’t know how to go about getting there if any motion towards even discussing LGBT people carries with it the threat of schism.

          One thing I’ve found myself thinking a lot about has been the assertion that VUSA is not a confessional tradition with a shared statement of faith. With our emphasis on the importance of searching within one’s Christian tradition for guidance, I’m really not sure how one would find any tradition to search in non-confessional movements.

          I have my own questions about how things are unfolding specifically at Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor but I’m inclined to take a bit more of a “Wait and See” attitude.

          • Well, my plan for making a small contribution is to talk about the pastoral needs of LGBTQ people without challenging the Side B understanding of sexual morality. It seems to me that that way has not been much tried, and that it is charging all the way to Side A (and, with due respect, I don’t see Blue Ocean’s position as meaningfully different from Side A) that carries a threat of schism.

            I’ve only made a beginning, but I have had very good response from my local congregation so far.

          • Maybe it would help if I put it another way:
            I understand that it must be awful to feel that you are personally the epicenter of theological controversy in your local congregation. I don’t want to minimize that at all.
            I also acknowledge that I am far from an expert, and the following statement may have counterexamples of which I’m not aware.
            But I have never heard of any actual schism, or even any actual discipline of a minister, in which a significant role was played by a LGBTQ topic other than the appropriateness of sexual relations. If I am mistaken, I’d be curious to hear about it.

          • My own experiences of attending churches is that I spend a lot of time at the epicenter of conflict. People aren’t exactly interested in talking with me about how I understand my vocation, but I’m seen as a threat. Most of the time, these experiences don’t result in schism because I’m made to feel so unwelcome that, after a point, I don’t see many alternatives but to leave. It’s not a pleasant experience being in church communities that are hostile to one’s presence.

            A huge discussion happens as to whether Christians can use LGBT terminology relative to their own experiences. I’ve been on the receiving end of more “Don’t say gay” directives than I care to count. Occasionally churches will encourage me to modify my appearance so that I’m dressed more appropriately. The pressures have varied depending on the exact nature of the congregation.

            I’ve been in churches that have dealt with various questions around whether a person should continue in ministry. The statistics for pastoral sexual indiscretions are a bit mind-boggling. One Evangelical church I was a part of had a pastor who was in the middle of divorce. There was a process for discerning a pathway forward, but there was notably an option for people in this circumstance to continue as pastors. What seems unclear about the Vineyard position paper is where the church regards indiscretions to begin, precisely owing to its silence about whether Christians could “check a box” to describe their sexual orientation and gender identity.

  5. Hi Lindsey, I’ve been on the inside of much of this Vineyard conflict. I attended a Vineyard in Minnesota for 8 years. They had me go through Living Waters materials when I told them I was same sex attracted. When my views changed towards fully affirming, my church came close to splitting, but I eventually left. Then, when I fell in love with a Vineyard pastor (Emily), her church went through a terribly painful split, as you’ve been reading about.
    Being the face of the LGBTQ debate in one’s own church is painful stuff. People who had always shown me love were now visibly angry. It was clear that by pushing for inclusion, they thought I was being too controversial or divisive. In reality, I wasn’t trying to divide, but include.
    Blue Ocean and the Third Way tell me that it’s not the church’s job to approve or disapprove of me or anyone else. We don’t all have to agree, but it is our job to love.

    • Hi Rachel, thanks so much for commenting on this post. I really hope I was fair in describing the situation in the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. I spent several hours digging around to see what I could find publicly, but I also didn’t want to misrepresent anyone involved. Commenting on the situation from afar can always be risky, but I can only imagine what this journey must have been like for Emily and you.

      For my own part, I stopped attending Vineyard USA churches in 2007 when my spiritual priorities shifted away from seeking healing related to my sexual orientation and gender identity. Different VUSA churches have various membership policies, and I wasn’t willing to be continuously enrolled in healing ministries in order to serve on any service team at the church. After college, I had moved around a bunch and went to VUSA churches that approached these questions with differing levels of ex-gay zeal. By that time, I noticed that ex-gay ministries were having a completely detrimental effect on my spiritual life, and I wanted to focus my spiritual life more on following Jesus to the best of my ability.

      It’s also really hard when you feel like you’re the face of the LGBT debate in your church. I wrote this post because I’ve so often felt like the face of the LGBT debate even in communities where I’ve made a decisive decision to say nothing. Too often churches forget that every face belongs to a person who is beloved by God. Something as simple as showing up and participating in the life of the church shouldn’t be controversial. As I read Ken’s description of the Third Way, I see him arguing that we really should be focusing first and foremost on the call to follow Jesus in community. I was profoundly impressed to see how my former pastor, Dave Schmelzer, has been trying to change the tenor of conversations about LGBT people in the church. I’m curious to continue watching the conversations unfold within the Blue Ocean Faith Network.

    • Thanks for commenting. There’s been some interesting things written on the newsletter, and I look forward to reading some more. -Lindsey

  6. Hi, I am late to this conversation so it might be moot. But I wonder if you have spoken to folks from the Vineyard of Ann Arbor (I attended for 13 years and left over the schism mentioned here) who disagreed with Ken, including staff, who would disagree with how the ‘Third Way’ Ken described actually worked out in real life, specifically concerning the idea that it is a ‘live and let live’ type of arrangement.
    I can say that folks who did not agree with Ken told me their views were not respected and the atmosphere in leadership was not welcoming to them, which was a big driver in the split. It was not such a rosy and tolerant atmosphere as seems to be implied here.
    I as a youth group leader I was told that I was free to share my opposing view to the youth as long as I included the phrase ‘in my opinion’, which certainly was not how I saw it.

    On another topic , I am curious as to the reason you have chosen to remain celibate in your relationship, From what I gathered from Ken’s viewpoint on this subject, same sex unions were to be no different from opposite sex equivalents so why the celibacy?

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