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From John*

To be honest, I’m not sure I have first hand stories of negative experiences during the 1988/89 period. As a denomination we had been discussing the “issue” as a church for nearly 10 years. [Editor’s note: the “issue” refers to the issue of gay and lesbian ordination in the United Church]. The initial entry into the discussion coming with the study on human sexuality from 1978. The “issue” was certainly a topic of discussion for those of us approaching ordination. The divisions in the church were clear and usually lead to heated conversations at Presbyteries and Conferences. But the society around us was already shifting. My attitude was that the decisions of the church reflected the shifting attitudes of society; more than the decision of the church guided the attitudes of society. As a student my activities in Presbytery and Conference were limited. I recall a discussion in a meeting of my Conference during a summer internship in 1987 where I engaged in a debate with the recently settled minister about the issue. He expressed his opposition; I expressed my support and the discussion came to an end. The divisions in the church, for me, reflected the divisions in the broader communities of which we were a part. My father made the observation that, for the most part, the positions held by congregations in respect to the “issue” reflected the positions held by the clergy serving those congregations. There were exceptions. In one instance a minister at one United Church experienced significant anxiety and conflict over General Council's decision. I know my father's pastoral support of that minister through the conflict resulted in a particularly strong bond between them — I do not know the details.

* Identifying details have been changed.

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