For book #5 in my 52-books-resolution, (yes, I know I'm a month behind) I just finished Holy Conversations: Talking About Homosexuality - a congregational resource by Karen P. Oliveto, Kelly D. Turney, and Traci C. West. I picked the book up at my seminary during alumni lectures back in October, drawn to it particularly because Traci West was my favorite professor in seminary, and because the book with a quick flip-through appeared to be practical and hands-on. The book is apparently first in a series of books that will tackle tough issues, focusing on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a study model.
The book gives plans for a six week study on homosexuality in local church congregations, complete with teaching plans, activities, assignments, etc. I like the model a lot - a variety of kinds of exercises, appealing to different learning styles, the Wesleyan quadrilateral as an entry point to examining a controversial issue, etc. I think the model is good and would be usable for many different studies - easily adaptable to other topics of debate.
I doubt, though, that I would ever use this resource in my congregation without highly adapting it first. Why? I think it doesn't take in to account where people are beginning - not a realistic sense of what a good starting point might be. The authors clearly support the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the community and church, as I do. But I know that my congregants do not all feel this way, and, more importantly, many have never talked at all about why/how they feel/believe what they do. I feel like this might be a good resource for later on in the discussion, or for a church that expected most people to lean in a more embracing direction already, but not a first-time-trying-to-talk-about-sex study.
Also, I'll admit - the random sentences in Spanish seemed out of place to me. The authors make a point of reminding us that we are a diverse people and that we need to remember and recognize our diversity - I agree. But random sentences in Spanish seem out of place to me - unless the book is published in English/Spanish side-by-side, which might be a good idea - what's the point?
I'll recommend the book for the teaching style set forth - and for the optimism that a study could start here in an everyday congregation. If you've used this resource in your congregation, I'd love to hear about it. But I would want to find an easier starting point before diving into these conversations in my own setting. Maybe that's just my fear speaking, but I think it would be more authentic to my community too.