How it all began
During the 1970s, while pastor of Church of the Open Door in San Rafael, California, I used my education in psychology to guide me in operating the Marin Christian Counseling Center out of my office at the Christian General Store in San Rafael, California. I had received a BA with a major in psychology from Sacramento State College and followed it up with an MA for a counseling certificate. (My plan was to be a school psychologist.) Right after the class work for the degree was completed, and after only a little while into the observed counseling phase of the program, I dropped out and moved to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley to begin my theological education.
Betty Kenner, our bookstore manager, scheduled my appointments, and it was common for me to have four to six appointments each day, Tuesday through Friday. There was never a fee charged, though sometimes people made a contribution to the church instead, but this was not sought or expected.
During one week in 1973 Betty scheduled, on three different days, appointments for three men whom I had not known before, and as it turned out, who did not know each other.
How “Love in Action” began
All three men said they were homosexual and had been such all their lives. All three were Christian, and all three were quite conflicted about the contradiction between what the Bible said and their behavior. Two of the three were living with lovers; one had lovers on and off. Two of the men were regular in church attendance. One was a school teacher, one an artist, and the other a businessman.
In turn, each told me that they wanted out of their homosexual lifestyle. And now I was wondering what in the world I should do. It went through my mind that this might not be accidental or coincidental—I thought it might be the hand of God.
Homosexuality! I knew little about it—only that while I was in the military, a couple of my fellow medics got caught in the barracks, very compromised, and it was a big deal. It took a while before I figured out what kind of sex they could have. Now I became acquainted with, at least from a professional point of view, three men who told me they were homosexual and were looking to me for some support and guidance.
The next Tuesday I asked Betty for the phone numbers of the three men and called each one to set up a meeting for the end of the week, maybe it was a Saturday morning. We met in my office, and after a couple hours or more of intense conversation, we decided to meet together on a weekly basis to discuss issues, pray, and give support and encouragement. After a few weeks of meetings, the artist said he knew of three women, all lesbians, who would like to join us. They did, and after two or three meetings with me and the six self-described homosexuals, we decided to open it up to others. One of the women thought it would be good to give the group a name, and she had one ready, out of 1 John 3: “Love in Action.” Everyone liked the name, and it stuck.
More bits and pieces coming up.
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