Wilshire Baptist leaders hope a new book written by an associate pastor will help other congregations learn from their experience tackling tough conversations about LGBTQ membership.

Associate pastor and Dallas Morning News contributor Mark Wingfield wrote the book Why Churches Need to Talk About Sexuality: Lessons Learned from Hard Conversations about Sex, Gender Identity and the Bible.

In the book, Wingfield details how Wilshire Baptist navigated the inclusion of LGBTQ members and how the process affected people inside the church. The author hopes the book will help Protestant congregations understand why this issue must be addressed and what to expect along the way.

The book follows a 2016 decision in which Wilshire Baptist leaders voted to offer full membership to everyone in its congregation, regardless of sexual orientation. It was the first time LGBTQ members could become leaders or get married within a Baptist church.

“We were a don’t-ask, don’t-tell church, and there’s a danger in that because, today, people are asking and telling, and you can’t sit on the fence anymore,” Wingfield told the Dallas Morning News. “For the sake of people in your church, they need to know: Are they welcome or not welcome? You need to be honest.”

In the four years since the church’s decision and its separation from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, several religious organizations have asked Wilshire Baptist leadership for advice. That interest prompted Wingfield to write the book, even if it risked reopening old wounds.

“We had no idea what was on the other side when we started this,” he told the Morning News. “We knew there was a right thing to do, and that we had to do. We thought we could maintain the peace more than we did. We were wrong. But we also had no idea the number of people who would find us. People are finding – and refinding – faith.”

The book can be purchased for $16.99 on the Fortress Press website.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.