I am a pastor in a denomination that is struggling over whether to permit the ordination of homosexuals in leadership positions. Months before a significant meeting (held two years ago), I asked another pastor to join me in a conversation about this topic. We held in common key tenants of our faith, but we didn't agree on this issue. We met a few times, listening carefully to one another and looking at key verses from the Bible that are important to us on this topic. We then prepared papers to read before our local governing body (leaders from 70 local churches). I told the group what I heard the other pastor say to me, and he told the group what he heard me say. Then the governing body voted on the topic. Our conversation did not change the expected vote of the governing body, but many came up to me after the meeting to say that, for the first time in the many years we have struggled with this issue, they were able to "hear" both sides of the issue. I too, felt that I had been "heard" by my peer as we prepared the papers for the governing body. The response has encouraged me to try this format in other settings, and also, to offer to do it again for this governing body with other issues.
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