“The Work for Unity: The Church and Homosexuality” breakout session met this morning, led by the Rev. Laurie Hays Coffman and the Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth.
The session began with a review of the history of the Unity Dialogue and its provisional purposes. The dialogue aims to preserve and advance the unity of the North Carolina Conference, as we seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, even as we might disagree (and seek to clarify our disagreements) about the matters of homosexual practice and homosexual orientation.
The purpose of the Unity Dialogue is to equip the saints to listen to, and to speak, the truth in love about difficult topics, particularly regarding the church and homosexuality.
The Reverends reviewed some guidelines for dialogue and Christian conferencing and demonstrated an example of this. Rev. Coffman and Rev. Stallsworth, while on different sides of the issue, demonstrated that engaging in civil and faithful dialogue surrounding this contentious issue remains possible as they each shared their own hopes and fears with regard to the United Methodist Church and the issue of homosexuality.
Participants then split into groups for discussion of the question: Why are we United Methodists so stubborn about the matter of homosexuality?
A conversation on the whole considered how Christians and churches can love others who are different. Participants also had opportunities to share with the large group before ending the session reflecting on what was learned and praying in unity.