This is a story that I think is important so I want to share it with you, particularly if you are of the opinion that the issue it addresses does not pertain to you. Whether you are confused, offended, or encouraged by it, the fact remains that you live in the world now, so it applies to all of us. Perhaps you listened to NPR’s Weekend Edition this past Sunday morning. If you did you were introduced to a pastor and his wife from western Pennsylvania. What you likely had no way of knowing is that there is just one degree of separation between you and Allan Edwards…and it is me.
I called Allan this morning and we tried to figure out when we had first met one another. Both of us have a long term relationship with Ligonier Camp, his extending back to 2005 and mine to 1996. Thus having been aware of one another’s existence for some time prior, we think that July 2009 was actually the first occasion on which we actually worked together. Allan was a member of the program staff that summer, working under the direction of our mutual friend Patrick Myers. Of course by that point I was bringing middle school students from Spotsylvania to Ligonier Camp annually.
Since then Allan has finished seminary, something that though I am older I still aspire to. He became the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church, just a short drive from Ligonier. Thus Allan and his wife Leeanne still find excuses to make it out to the camp in the summer. It is after all the place where they met, as mentioned in the NPR interview. This has included Allan serving as a speaker for the On the Edge program our students and youth leaders participate in at Ligonier. As such he has spoken to our students on several occasions, including last summer.
It was not until just a couple years ago that I became aware of Allan’s experience. He wrote about it on his blog, which naturally caused a stir. But like many others I appreciated Allan’s candor and found it quite helpful. Obviously the NPR story has ratcheted things to a new level. As you might imagine, people now routinely feel it their place to offer public predictions on the likelihood of the Edwards’ marriage crashing and burning…and those are some of the more the polite comments. But Allan told me he limits his intake of feedback to that which arrives in his Facebook and email in-boxes; probably a wise move. Most of this commentary has been quite encouraging. Many have expressed their thanks for his honest attempt to bring clarity and perspective to a difficult topic. Apparently many find themselves in similar circumstances and are able to relate to his experience.
If you have to choose I suggest you listen to the interview (below) rather than just reading the synopsis. Listening gives you a better feel for the approach and attitude Allan has adopted toward the subject of his struggle with same-sex attraction. And if you really feel the need, read the comments last or follow Allan's lead and just ignore them entirely.