Nicole Garcia is an out and proud transgender Latina. She has a Master of Arts in Counseling from CU Denver, is a Nationally Certifed Counselor, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado. Nicole is also a Candidate Preparing for Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was awarded a Master of Divinity in 2018 from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and she will be ordained on November 23 at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Louisville, Colorado. After her ordination, she will serve as the mission development pastor of Westview Church in Boulder, Colorado.
Pastor Candace Hardnett
Pastor Candace Hardnett is the Senior Pastor of Agape Empowerment Ministries in Savannah, Georgia. She and her wife Erika founded the church in 2009 and have worked diligently in the kingdom to bring about awareness of God’s inclusive love for all people. Pastor Candace served her country as a United States Marine for fve years and then served as her squadron Lay Leader for the Marines and the Ministry of Convalescence at her church in San Diego, California. Pastor Candace has rallied in Washington, D.C. for equality, trained with GLAAD, marched and protested locally as well as worked with the Savannah city council and mayor to bring about equality within her city. She currently resides in Savannah, Georgia, with her wife and daughter, Maya, and is the proud mother of two older daughters who live on their own. Pastor Candace holds a BS in Religion from Liberty University and is currently in pursuit of her MDiv from her alma mater.
For 20 years, Justin Lee has been an influential Christian voice for LGBTQ affirmation, working across areas of theological disagreement to promote grace and mutual understanding. His first book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate has been widely cited for its role in changing conservative Christians’ attitudes and helping Christian parents accept their LGBTQ kids. His newest book, Talking Across the Divide, offers strategies for having productive conversations in a polarized society. In 2001, Justin founded The Gay Christian Network, which he ran for 16 years before founding Nuance Ministries to help make churches everywhere safe for LGBTQ people and their families. In addition, Justin makes videos about Christian faith and LGBTQ issues, hosts the weekly podcast/vidcast GeekyJustin Live, and co-hosts the podcast Sanctuary Conversations. He lives in Orlando and can be found online at GeekyJustin.com.
Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson
Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson is Professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and she is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church (Baltimore-Washington Conference). She earned her doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University and, earlier in her career, she practiced law in Washington, D.C., for nearly ten years. Her current research interests involve contextual and liberationist readings of Scripture in the age of HIV and AIDS. Her publications include Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law (T&T Clark, 2004), and Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2009). More information about her current research can be found at CherylBAnderson.com.
Dr. James V. Brownson
Dr. Jim Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, where he has served as moderator of the Commission on Theology, dean of Western Theological Seminary, and General Synod Professor. He has taught the New Testament for more than 25 years and is the author of a number of books. In 2013, Brownson published Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, which was hailed by The Boston Globe as “perhaps the most extensive, accessible, and direct evangelical reckoning with the Bible’s passages on homosexuality.”
Laura Beth Buchleiter
Laura Beth Buchleiter is an alum of the 2016 TRP Leadership Development Cohort, an author, and a 25-year veteran of conservative Christian ministry prior to affirming her identity in 2014. Her active advocacy includes work in mental health, individual consultation with lay leaders and clergy in various church settings, and public speaking. Laura Beth is also a founding organizer of Free Mom Hugs out of Oklahoma City and is currently planning the third annual Free Mom Hugs Tour. She lives in Indianapolis, where she is pursuing an MDiv from Christian Theological Seminary.
Darren Calhoun is currently the Worship Leader at Urban Village Church – South Loop in Chicago and previously served as a volunteer worship leader at Willow Chicago for 9 years. Worship has been a central part of Darren’s ministry life, including leading choirs, dance teams, and visual arts ministries. Additionally, racial justice and LGBTQ+ inclusion are especially important to him. Darren is an Associate Fellow for Racial Justice with Evangelicals for Social Action and a long-time volunteer with The Marin Foundation. In 2015, he co-facilitated The Academy for Racial Justice at TRP in Atlanta, and led worship at TRP in Kansas City. He brings with him an intentional focus on the church being inclusive of a diversity of people and expressions as an authentic reflection of the Kingdom of God. Lastly, Darren is an extrovert who loves hugs, anything involving chocolate and peanut butter, and social media. Follow him on Twitter at @heyDarren or through his blog, DarrenCalhoun.com.
Reverend David, born in Quebec Province in 1938, earned his Master of Divinity at McGill University, Montreal in 1962, the same year he was ordained in the United Church of Canada. Throughout his long career as a minister in the United Church, Rev. David served in seven pastorate roles throughout Canada. While still a seminary student, he wrote a now-famous letter to the head of the translation committee for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible questioning the use of the word “homosexual.” Until 2017, Rev. David and the world would not realize the impact of this letter. He retired in 1998 and moved to British Columbia and is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Kathy Baldock & Ed Oxford
Kathy Baldock is the Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, a 501(c)3 organization with a focus on education, encouragement and engagement between the Christian church and the gay. lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christian community. As a straight evangelical Christian ally, her perspective is unique in understanding both sides of the dialogue. In advocacy work for the last decade, Kathy has strong relationships throughout the US in many LGBT Christian organizations and LGBT rights groups. Kathy is the mother of two adult heterosexual children with a background in civil engineering, retail business ownership and technology sales. She understands business plans and networking and brings that strength to The Reformation Project along with her advocacy skills.
Ed Oxford was raised Southern Baptist and then became a missionary with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Japan after graduating from Miami University. Subsequently, he was on staff at an American Baptist Church while studying for his MDiv at Biola University’s Talbot Seminary. He is currently a financial advisor in Southern California and spends much of his free time working on a book he is co-authoring with Kathy Baldock, which is based on their original research into old archives regarding Bible translation.
Matthew Vines is the founder and Executive Director of The Reformation Project. He is also the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, published by Convergent Books in 2014.
In 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at a church in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, making the case that Christians should affirm gay Christians and their marriage relationships. His speech went viral, having been seen more than a million times and leading to a feature story in The New York Times. In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project to equip and empower Christians to advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in their faith communities. He speaks regularly at churches, universities, and conferences across the country.
Mark Wingfield is the associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He came to Wilshire after a 21-year career in denominational journalism, including serving as the managing editor of the Baptist Standard and the director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned his BA in journalism from the University of New Mexico and completed graduate studies in Theology at Southwestern Seminary. He is a regular columnist for Baptist News Global and is the author of the forthcoming book Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality: Lessons Learned from Hard Conversations about Sex, Gender, Identity, and the Bible. Mark and his wife, Alison, have been married since 1985 and have twin boys, Luke and Garrett, who are professional jazz musicians.