“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and a great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32,33)
We hope this conference can be a time for the Body of Christ to come together in love and unity over a topic that has created much division and strife in the world around us. We hope that it will be a time to see in new ways that friendship and chastity are a calling for all Christians. And we hope that this conference will help us confidently love and care for those who are not heterosexual both in our society and in the Body of Christ.
Today our country feels intensely divided and the Church reflects that reality. However, the Body of Christ is called to share a common life like that of the early church above from the Book of Acts. The greatest roadblock to that unity, from the very beginning of the Church, is found in the ways we divide ourselves according to the viewpoints of the societies we come from.
The decision by the US Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage has left the Body of Christ in division over issues surrounding the ethics of love and sexuality. But the very real relationships many of us have with those who are not heterosexual show that the work of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world isn’t as easy as simply holding the right opinions.
For this year’s Cross and Culture we have invited noted speakers, Ron Belgau and his mother Beverley Belgau, who have first hand experience living the answers to many of the questions listed above. Two years ago Pope Francis invited Ron and Beverley to speak at the World Celebration of Families in Philadelphia where they shared their experience of Ron coming to terms both with his sexuality and his faith to over 2000 people. Ron is also friends with Wesley Hill, and together they started a website called Spiritual Friendship, as a resource for Christians who are not heterosexual and for the Church. Here is how Ron describes himself and why he speaks on the topic:
“I have become more open about being a celibate gay Christian because I want to combat the shame that young men and women who are coming to terms with their sexuality often feel in Christian circles. I want them to be able to be known by their friends, family members, pastors, and others who are close to them.”
What is the Cross & Culture Series?
As All Saints seeks to “live as the body of Christ in Austin for the world” we are continually asking how we are called to engage with the culture of which we find ourselves a part. The Cross & Culture series is a launching pad for thoughtful discourse on the dynamic and complex parts of our culture in which we participate daily, including everything from music and literature to movies and politics. The topics and speakers selected each year help us to not only recognize Christ’s transforming presence at work in these aspects of our culture but, instead of simply navigating past them, to also participate in them more thoughtfully and faithfully.