Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stories that Build Bridges and Relationships

This past Saturday night was the first time I brought some of my gay and straight friends together for an intentional time of informal worship, sharing of stories, and (of course) potluck. The idea was to provide a context where I could bring together some of the relationships I've been developing in different circles and safely introduce them to each other for the purpose of getting to know one another better.

So we packed in 25 people into my little apartment, hung out and had our fill of potluck dinner and goodies. Then we had three people (lesbian, straight, gay) share their stories with the group . . . .

For each person that shared, the group had an opportunity to ask questions of the person for the purpose of getting to know that person better. Then as a community, we verbally honored the person by expressing our love, acceptance, and affirmation for him or her. Then we all prayed for that person before hearing the story of the next person.

It was a really awesome time! Bianca, Polin, and Shawn shared their stories and we had a wonderful opportunity of getting to know their hearts, passions, journeys, and stories. The really awesome thing was that the focus wasn't on sexuality. It was discussed in the context of a person's story, but the main focus was always on our growing relationship with Christ and how we are living a lifestyle of worship and community.

As we concluded, we were encouraged to continue connecting with one another by being intentional about nurturing healthy relationships with God, people of the same gender, other genders and also healthy romantic relationships.

My goal for hosting this evening was to elevate the conversation beyond the gay-straight issue and to help build bridges through genuine relationships. It is my belief that through relationships we can shatter paradigms and stereotypes. I take an organic approach to mostly everything so I wasn't planning on making this an "event" or "program" with a "name". I prefer to allow relationships the freedom to drive what we do next. So afterwards, several people talked about doing similar evenings like these in their own homes and inviting their different circles of friends. This is great because I encouraged people NOT to depend on me to keep doing this but rather to own the vision themselves. So next time, it'll be in someone else's home and we'll have different people sharing their stories.

I've got some of the after-pics in the filmloop section at the top of the right column of this blog. Check them out! I didn't want to violate the atmosphere of what we were trying to do by trying to document it with photos. So there aren't any photos during our time of sharing stories, but there are pics of some of the GCN'ers that hung around afterwards. =)


Steve and Warren ~ said...

What an absolutely great idea for meeting and sharing with one another.

Congratulations on taking such an important and gigantic step.

Anonymous said...

:)I am so excited. M, just sent an email title "Got Inclusion, West Coast" or something:) I am so excited:)

Anonymous said...

Wow, as an ex-pentecoastal Christian myself I can imagne how hard that must have been.

Absolutly amazing news that you managed it though!

JohnAGJ said...

What a great idea! Thanks for posting this.

Unknown said...

Hi Eric! I found your blog because I have Google Alerts set to inform me whenever something is posted to the Internet bearing the phrase "stories that build bridges." (The Internet never ceases to amaze me, in how it brings me in contact with so many interesting new people and new ideas.) I applaud you for bringing your _journey_ and not just your _convictions_ into your blog. So many faith blogs are full of self-assured certainties devoid of openness toward discovery and exploration. And I'm glad to see that since you began blogging, you have become less conflicted about your dual identity as Christian and as a gay man.

I happen to publish a newsletter blog about _storytelling_ for peacemaking, healing, bridge building and reconciliation (hence my interest in "stories that build bridges") that earlier this year did a forum on "Story, Narrative, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" that you or your readers might be interested in (at http://storyteller-and-listener.blog-city.com/glbt_qa.htm) .


Alan said...

Hey Eric:
Saw your videos and read some of your blog entries. I attend St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach. We are having a movie "The Bible Tells Me So" I think is the title. It is being shown at First Congregational. Is that the church you go to? Or which one do you attend? I am a member of the GLBT group at St. Luke's and we want to make connections with the greater community.
-keep up the good work,

Jean-Marc said...

What a great idea to whorship in this way with straights and gays !