I just finished reading Ann Arbor Vineyard pastor Ken Wilson’s book: A letter to my Congregation — an evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.
It is very thoughtful… Wilson is smart, gentle, kind, respectful and, from all indications, deeply shaped by his love of the Bible. The book — “the letter” — essentially tells how Wilson came to welcome and bless gay, lesbian and transgender persons into his Ann Arbor Vineyard congregation. Wilson is a really good writer, whose transparency, humility and good questions make for compelling reading. Having listened intently to the stories of scores of people in his congregation and beyond and given this issue deep consideration, he’s now willing to take his stand (thus the book), and in this rather long, meandering, but well-written piece, he tells how he came to be where he is today on this issue. He encourages other pastors in particular to think through their position more than they have heretofore and have the courage to take a stand. This is the time to do it, he says, because this issue is not going away.
(Of particular interest was how at length Wilson chronicled how the Church in the United States since World War II and well into the 1980s has now moved from believing divorced persons rarely could remarry to it now being commonly done with full blessings in churches throughout America. His sense is that the church embracing Christian people who are gay, lesbian and transgender is on the same trajectory.)
I paid especially close attention because Wilson made a big impact on my thinking with his excellent books Empowered Evangelicals (a book about Word and Spirit that Wilson wrote with Vineyard pastor Rich Nathan that persuaded me to jump in with the Vineyard church tribe) and Mystically Wired (a book that helped me understand that prayer, among other things, should be, can be and actually is a place we go).
Finally, Wilson helped me understand the importance of The Divine Hours, a prayer practice that he fully endorses and encourages with his Ann Arbor, Michigan, Vineyard congregation. Because of Wilson, I went on to read several books by Phyllis Tickle, whose theology and practice has had a powerful effect on Wilson and his Vineyard church in Ann Arbor. I have implemented various forms of praying the hours as a result of Wilson’s influence and practice.