From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Churches, University Join to Discuss Sexuality Issues

Date 12 May 1996 20:20:20

May 9, 1996 
96153      Churches, University Join to Discuss Sexuality Issues 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
DAVIS, Calif.--It may come too late for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 
but a consortium of churches, campus ministries and the University of 
California at Davis are gathering 300 religious leaders from across the 
United States next fall to explore how American religious institutions can 
talk about issues of sexuality without creating division within their 
     The Sept. 5-7 conference, "Finding Common Ground: Human Sexuality and 
American Religious Institutions," will be hosted on the UC-Davis campus by 
The Belfry, the Lutheran/Episcopal campus ministry at the university. 
Among the co-sponsors are numerous congregations, including the Davis 
Community Presbyterian Church, and several denominational entities in 
northern California. 
     "All of us in American religious communities are now, or soon will be, 
facing major issues around sexuality in our institutional life," noted the 
Rev. Jim Kitchens, pastor of the Davis Community Presbyterian Church. 
"What we are seeking to do through this conference is to help one another 
discover ways to engage in civil conversation and debate about these issues 
which do not tear our denominations apart." 
     The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-related Knutson Endowment, 
which has provided major funding for the conference, stipulated that the 
conference "address human sexuality and the church from a broad-based 
perspective to encourage dialogue and promote respect, dignity and 
courageous awareness among Christians." 
     Belfry campus pastor the Rev. Don Ranstrom said the intent of the 
conference is to create dialogue where little currently exists.  "We are 
convinced that there is a broad middle group concerned about this issue 
that can be engaged in such a civil conversation."  He said a university 
setting, where the church and academia "overlap" is "ideal for such an 
     Featured speakers at the conference will include the Rev. John 
Buchanan, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and a leader in 
the PC(USA)'s efforts to find reconciliation after the furor that 
surrounded the denomination's involvement in the November 1993 Re-Imagining 
conference. Keynote speaker is the Rev. Mel White, a Metropolitan Community 
Church pastor who served as a speechwriter for television evangelist Pat 
Robertson before makng his own homosexuality known publicly. 
     Further information about the conference is available from Jean 
Holsten at The Belfry, (916) 756-1550. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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