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Courage to Love: A Gay Priest Stands Up for His Beliefs Hardcover – May 19, 1997

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It is one thing for a television personality to openly proclaim her homosexuality; it is another for a priest to do the same. As homosexuals are increasingly gaining acceptance by secular society, organized religions face the options: accept, ignore, or condemn. When Barry Stopfel forced the Episcopal Church to decide, "ignore" was no longer an option. Under the polished writing of Will Leckie, Stopfel cuts a compelling figure, and as a catalyst in the Episcopal struggle, we see the dual story of a man's love for his Christian church and his church's difficulty with Christ-like reciprocation.

From Library Journal

Homosexuality and the position of various Christian denominations regarding it has been a source of controversy for several decades. Together with partner Stopfel, the rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in Maplewood, New Jersey, actor and author Leckie has written a moving account of their heroic struggle to see Stopfel through to ordination in the Episcopal Church. An openly gay man, Stopfel was ordained in 1995 by a bishop who was subsequently brought to a church trial in preparation for charging him with heresy. The bishop was absolved by the church court, and Stopfel is today a working pastor. The authors offer a moving story, engagingly written from the perspective of passionate commitment to homosexual rights. Recommended for all academic and larger public libraries; for a sensitive account from a different perspective, see Thomas Schmidt's Straight & Narrow? (Intervarsity, 1995).
-?Charles V. Cowling, SUNY at Brockport Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (May 19, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385486723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385486729
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,980,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading "Courage To Love" for the SECOND time (not bad, considering that I only purchased my copy a week ago!), and I have been enthusiastically recommending it to gay and straight friends of all denominations on discussion boards all over the Internet.

This is truly a love story. Not only in the "traditional" sense (though it is that too...the love between Leckie and Stopfel comes through loud and clear on every page), but also in a much broader sense. The love of two men for their God and their faith, the love of the Christian people
who rallied around them, the love of God for ALL His children...it's all there, beautifully written
in a style that makes all the players come alive for the reader. No longer are "Stopfel," "Leckie," "Righter" and "Spong" mere names on a piece of paper...they are real people with real emotions and strong convictions.

This is also truly a book about courage...courage that goes beyond even the incredible courage it takes simply to live as an openly gay person in today's society. The stakes for all the players were unbelievably high...loss of love, loss of personal security, loss of faith, loss of power and position. I think that anyone who thinks he or she is alone in the struggle against prejudice and fear would draw strength from Stopfel and Leckie's story.

Most of all, however, this is a book about integrity. Despite the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, Stopfel refused to repudiate either his calling or his being. At any time, he could have
left Leckie, or claimed to be celibate, and his ordination would have proceeded without comment.
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with everything A Customer's review stated.
I grew up attending St. George's Church and my mother was still there when Barry was called. She is quoted on page 238. I got to know Barry when Mom passed away and he performed the memorial service. My homophobic older brother Bob, who had had serious reservations about Barry coming to St. George's, also got to know him and said repeatedly, "It's impossible not to like that man."

At that time, we were living in Rochester, NY, attending St. Thomas Church in Brighton. I inherited a small amount of money from Mom which I gave to the church and we also sponsored a weekend for Barry and Will to come to St. Thomas. Hosting them, we got to know Will better as well, and what a delightful guy he is with quite an ironic wit. When I announced in church that they would be coming, there were some reservations, but fortunately nothing outright antagonistic, especially since our donation covered their expenses.

Barry and Will conducted a Saturday workshop on "Spirituality and Sexuality", which was attended by about twenty people, all of whom were very positive about their experience. On Sunday, Barry preached on the same topic and celebrated the Eucharist. It was a wonderful weekend and I think everyone who got to know Barry agreed with my brother Bob's assessment.

In 1995, a group of Episcopal bishops brought a "Presentment of Herey" against the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, the assistant bishop who had ordained Barry. Whatever they called it, I called it an "Inquisition". The charges and the "trial" became national news and fortunately, reason and God's love prevailed and the council hearing the Presentment found that nothing in the Canons of the Church forbid ordination of a gay man.
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