In the past two decades or so the issue of homosexuality has taken center stage at national and regional
denominational meetings and in local church communities. The response of the majority of churches ranges from
condemnation to toleration of the gay and lesbian community, neither of which offers much hope for homosexual
Christians. In Gifted by Otherness L. William Countryman and M. R. Ritley conclude that being gay or
lesbian is not actually a problem at all; rather it is a vocation, and, in fact, a gift to today's church.
As "outsiders" gay men and lesbians challenge the church to be inclusive of all God's children-the central
message of the gospel. "God has drawn us to this difficult place," they write, "in order to reveal God's grace
to us and in us and through us." Basing their book on retreats they have presented to churches and seminaries,
Countryman and Ritley explore what it means to affirm, not merely accept, being gay or lesbian, as well as
Christian. Written primarily for the lesbigay community, they explore the ways in which the gay and lesbian
community can appropriate and re-tell the biblical story, and find confidence in their unique spiritual journey
and gifts. This pro-active and self-affirming book provides new hope for those who feel that it is impossible
to be gay or lesbian, as well as Christian.