Take Two for July 16, 2013

The impact of Fuller Theological Seminary's sanctioned LGBT group

Fuller Theological Seminary

Flickr/ Kristin Myers Harvey

Sign on the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Ca.

LGBT clubs are quite common on university campuses, unless your university is a religious one.

Nick Palacios of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena is hoping to change that. He is the incoming president of a group called One Table, the first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. 

Palacios joins Take Two to talk about One Table's goal, his views on how the church is handling the gay rights movement and how his group reconciles the church's beliefs with LGBT issues. 

Interview Highlights:

On how One Table came about:
"It started in the 2011-2012 school year, when a couple of students in conjunction with a few faculty and staff decided now is the time to provide a more safe, generous space in order for the entire Fuller community to really engage this conversation -- to really get the heart of the issues that are going on."

On what makes this group at a religious school different from others at non-religious college campuses:
"One Table doesn't necessarily exist to promote the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ people. What we really exist to do is to bring multiple people from across the spectrum of religion to the table in order to engage in conversation about what it looks like to reconcile faith and sexuality and gender identity."

On how the group's members reconcile Fuller's policies with their core beliefs:
"With the existing policies that Fuller has, we absolutely respect those. We respect people, both students and Fuller staff, as they continue to have dialogue around these issues -- whether or not that means the policy changes or it doesn't. That's not what One Table seeks to do. We seek to continue to remain in that tension in conversing about one another's lives and what that looks like to seek after God and seek after community — seeking after the poor and the oppressed and how we can do that together even when we disagree."

On the difficulties of balancing the school's beliefs with LGBT issues:
"It's not always easy to look across the table at somebody who doesn't affirm some of your core beliefs. I think, for me, it's about whether or not somebody the hermeneutic and the way that I've approached sort of reconciling my own faith-journey with my own sexual orientation. That can sometimes be discouraging. The same goes for the person who's straight, who is demonized by the LGBT person. What that means to suffer, it's not just unique to the LGBT. It really is an experience that all of our members and faculty and staff experience. Being implicated into each other's suffering really goes a long way of bridging one another's conversation."

On whether he's worried about potential backlash from evangelical churches:
"I do believe that the church is not called to be a hostile environment. Similarly, religious institutions I believe should be where multiple opinions and scholarship are welcome. I believe that One Table has postured itself as a model in framing the conversation in a different way. And, I hope that as the wider church continues to go down paths of conversation that can often end in enmity and polarity -- that they can really prioritize the relationship and they can really prioritize seeking God together and seeking those on the margins together, and that will really draw them in."

On how the church is weighing in on homosexuality right now:
"I think the fact that the church is weighing in is the most significant event that's taking place as of late. As one person, I can't speak on behalf of the wider Christendom because (there are) definitely ebbs and flows in every community ... But, what I am encouraged by is the fact that more and more people are coming to the table for conversation."


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