COURAGE TO LOVE by Will Leckie


A Gay Priest Stands Up for His Beliefs
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 An honest, searching memoir about the trials of an openly gay priest and his partner. Stopfel was the second gay man to be ordained an Episcopal priest when he was already out of the closet, and his story marks a major revolution in mainline Protestantism. From his first day at the seminary, Stopfel was committed to honesty about his gay identity, refusing to hide his partner in an effort to stay uncontroversial. The authors relate in great detail the seemingly insurmountable obstacles Stopfel overcame in order to be ordained and the challenges he faced after ordination. The book is filled with incidents of homophobia, from the quotidian chilliness of some parishioners to the dramatic objections raised by one vocal opponent during Stopfel's diaconal ordination ceremony, which stopped the show and cast a pall over the whole proceeding. The bishop who ordained him was brought to ecclesiastical court for heresy (in May 1996 he was found not guilty). But what is most valuable about this book is that it is, quite simply, a love story. It was actually written by Stopfel's partner, Leckie, who has stood by him faithfully during all of the trials of his quest for ordination. The two committed themselves to this undertaking, hardly knowing that their life and love would be put on media display, scrutinized and criticized. Leckie says they never intended to undermine the Church--one thing the book reveals clearly is how thoroughly Episcopalian Stopfel is. The book will be published one month before the triennial Episcopal conference, which may well decide the future of gay clergy in the denomination. Leckie and Stopfel were, as Leckie puts it, ``just two guys who loved each other.'' Their love, humor, and forgiveness resonate from every page. (16 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-48672-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


by John Shekleton