Friday, August 19, 2011

pondering samaria, sexual orientation, and gender identity

I hope this series of posts on the Global Leadership Summit isn't boring anyone, but I process best by writing and rewriting, so transferring my notes into blog posts is helpful for me even if no one else finds it particularly interesting.

The next session was weird for me.  Just before it began, Bill Hybels took the microphone to address the Starbucks controversy and announce that Howard Schultz (scheduled for the next day) would not be speaking after all.  I have already stated that I believe Bill handled the situation in as classy and loving a way possible, given the circumstance ... but I have a lot more to say about the issue in general.  Things I'm not sure how to say.  Things I'm still pondering.  So, for now, I'll just say this:  it left me feeling weird.

Profound, I know.

Immediately following that announcement, Brenda Salter McNeil spoke to us about globalization.  I enjoyed her speaking style, but I confess that my mind wandered a bit because our church has spent months and months driving home the scripture she focused on (Acts 1:8).  I recall poking one of our pastors in the back and whispering to him that all this sounded awfully familiar.

One of my favorite points was when she said that we need to go, not to help but to learn.  She got an amen from me with that one!  (and she was fishing for the amens - seems the GLS crowd was a mild audience compared to what she's used to)

But there was one thing really bugging me.  As Rev. McNeil spoke about challenging cultural barriers, I couldn't help but wonder... isn't there an elephant in the room?  She was focused on racial and socioeconomic divides and language barriers, all vitally important, but what had Bill just spoken to us about?  Dare we approach the cultural barriers of sexual orientation and gender identity? 

My recommendation for the GLS is this: next year invite Tony and Peggy Campolo to speak.  They've been bravely talking about this issue together for over 20 years.  That's leadership worth learning from.  Because Rev McNeil is right,

"Samaria is the place where people who differ from us gather. And if we sit down by the wells there, we just might have a life-changing encounter."

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