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Bringing the Search for Truth to the Place that Created the Search

Faculty from the Center for Innovation in Ministry at the San Francisco Theological Seminary were invited to speak at a Google employee forum on Friday, September 1st. The Center’s Rev. Floyd Thompkins, and Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr and Rev. Annanda Barclay from the Jane Spahr Reconciliation Project, engaged in a panel discussion with the Christian Google Network on the subject of spirituality and the LGBTQ community.

The Google Christian Network is one of many affinity groups at Google that regularly host events. Over 50 employees participated in the forum, and a live stream was broadcast to all of Google’s campuses, from the Bay Area to New York City.

Launching the conversation, Rev. Thompkins described the role of the Bible in Christian life and practice: “Rooted in the Reformed tradition, all of life—including sexuality—is viewed through the lens of Jesus and the Law of Love.” (Watch the full video here.)

Rev. Barclay, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, and member of the Spahr Steering Committee, added that spirituality and sexuality join with other aspects of individuality to create the whole person, created in the image of God. “The first two Commandments say it all: Love God, and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. These beliefs are fundamental in seeing one another as HUMAN. That’s the starting point of our conversation.”

Rev. Dr. Spahr followed up with many moving and sacred stories of queer Christians, their families, friends and communities of faith. The panel discussion was followed by a lively time of questions/answers that covered the spectrum of Christian inquiry and theology. Rev. Thompkins noted the appropriate timing of this forum: “Recently there have been many statements and actions in the world that have been divisive and destructive. We believe that given the opportunity to discuss these issues, most people will see that inclusion, tolerance and love are the way to heal this world.”

Rev. Thompkins is thrilled that Google will be posting a recording of the forum on their YouTube channel. “Many of Google’s products, such as its search engine and Hangouts, have created the theological and social spaces to reimagine our faith in light of our intellectual and social evolution of thought and community. It was especially heartening to see the ways in which the Google employees embraced and engaged the creative disruption that their culture of innovation has given to those of us who are people of faith.”

The Center for Innovation in Ministry welcomes the opportunity to return to Google, as well as visit other tech companies that seek to have discussions on diversity, innovation and tolerance.

Rev. Annanda Barclay at the Google Campus. Photo credit: Bear Ride


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