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DVD assists with dialogue, not debate, about homosexuality

Oct. 9, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*

A DVD resource that offers a practical guide to discussions about homosexuality and the church while putting "a real human face" on the issue is now available to United Methodists.

The resource was produced by the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and United Methodist Communications.

According to the Rev. Greg Stover, a member of the Commission on Christian Unity, the DVD "will provide a practical, general resource about how a group of people can engage in divisive, controversial issues."

The purpose of the resource is not to change people's opinions, he added, but "to grow an understanding of our own views and the views of others."

Jan Love, who served with Stover as co-chairperson of the commission's Task Force for Dialogue on Homosexuality and the Unity of the United Methodist Church, agreed with that assessment.

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Jan Love
"In the search for Christian unity, one topic that trips us up more frequently than most is that of homosexuality," Love said. "We know how to debate this issue with great passion, but we often do not know how to hold productive discussions about our different convictions, discussions that honor the integrity of each person's faith journey."

The 2000 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, asked the commission to sponsor a series of dialogues "on issues related to homosexuality and the unity of the church." In its Book of Discipline, the church holds the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching, but it also states that gays and lesbians are people of sacred worth.

In 2002 and 2003, dialogues were held with the Council of Bishops, General Council on Ministries, racial-ethnic caucuses, and youth and young adults. Smaller regional listening events also occurred in places such as Cincinnati; Lubbock, Texas; Canton, Ohio; White Plains, N.Y.; Marietta, Ga.; West Sacramento, Calif.; and Oslo, Norway.

One of the outcomes of the process is the DVD resource. "We hope that it models how Methodists and other Christians can search for the light of Christ in each other, even when we disagree," Love said.

"It not only helps us to have conversations but also invites us to do it in Christian conversation," said Stover, who pointed out that worship is at the center of such conversation.

Tool for conversation

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The Rev. Gregory D. Stover
"Can We Talk??" includes two DVDs and a CD-ROM with downloadable documents. DVD 1 has an introduction and historical overview and offers personal stories, perspectives on homosexuality, and a summary of the four dialogue sessions.

DVD 2 offers information about setting up dialogues on the local level; presents biblical insights, thoughts on the nature of the church and ministry options; and provides worship materials.

Those materials represent a tremendous amount of work done by the commission, particularly during the 2000-2004 quadrennium, according to the Rev. Betty Gamble, a retired staff executive involved with the project.

"We intend to offer it to the church as a tool to use as they see fit," she said. "We have tried all along to keep the material and what we did balanced."

She noted that the DVD resource does not present solutions to divisions over the issue of homosexuality but provides a usable tool "to keep the conversation going."

The DVD resource sells for $39.95 and can be purchased from EcuFilm, where it is listed as DVD 6191. Orders can be placed by regular mail, phone, fax, online and e-mail.

To order online, visit www.ecufilm.org. E-mail orders can be sent to csc@umcom.org. To order toll free by phone, call (888) 346-3862 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Fax orders can be sent to (615) 742-5499 at any time. Mail orders can be sent to EcuFilm, 810 Twelfth Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

   
Video Clips from
"Can We Talk"
Why we tell stories
What dialogue is
   
Audio Interview with
Greg Stover
"It enables us to put a human face on an issue."
Related Articles
Bishops hold first dialogue on homosexuality
Dialogues planned on homosexuality
Resources
Ecufilm
Commission on Christian Unity
Questions on Homosexuality