How the study came to be

The story of This I Know begins in 2007 when Northaven United Methodist Church received a gift from the Dallas chapter of the Human Rights Campaign. Energy soon began to form around the desire to do something ambitious and ground-breaking with a portion of the gift – and the need for a new Bible study on the issue of homosexuality was eventually identified.

Would it be possible for a single United Methodist congregation to actually make a national impact on this historically divisive issue? Northaven decided to find out.

In the summer of 2007, about 30 educators, communicators, lay people and clergy gathered at the church to envision how to "build a better Bible study." From that retreat, one overriding theme was identified. Given that so many people allow various fears to influence their opinions on this issue, clearly the task at hand was how to move them from those fears to a Christ-centered love.

A smaller planning committee was soon formed to create a more definitive outline of a multi-week study. One of the biggest hurdles, this group knew, would be the video component – something that was identified at the retreat as a "must have," considering its prevalence in today's church curriculum.

Serendipitously, the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So had just completed a two-week engagement at a local movie theater, and three members of the planning committee had seen it. As the three shared their excitement about the documentary – which poignantly illustrates the human cost of fear through the stories of Christian families coping with a homosexual son or daughter – the entire committee soon wondered: Had their video already been produced?

For the Bible Tells Me So filmmaker Daniel Karslake was contacted, and he immediately seized on the idea of a companion study.

The outline for a six-lesson study was constructed to complement the film. Rather than rely on a single author – as previous studies on this subject have done – the planning committee decided to try to attract nationally recognized experts to contribute original manuscripts. This would be a crucial way this study could stand out from other curricula, as well as present itself as a definitive and trustworthy guide.

Planners made other key decisions that also would set this study apart. First, it would be distributed via the web, not only to keep the cost low but also to create the possibility of an evolving resource. Because the curriculum and supplementary material are all downloadable files, the material can be refined and augmented without the expense of hard-copy publication. Additionally, the cost of the study itself – just $40 for a six-week class for up to 40 people – is a fraction of the price of hard-copy curriculum. The association with the award-winning documentary also gives the project a prestigious set of coattails.

Over many long months, the study's writers were recruited, one by one. All selflessly volunteered their time and talents, allowing Northaven to produce this project on a remarkably slender shoestring budget. Through all the twists and turns and even with the mix of different voices, the study's overarching theme remains completely in keeping with the outcome of that original retreat: placing Christians on a journey from fear to love.

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