Chris and Elisa Clark
Chris and Elisa are co-leaders of an ETJ support group at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Chris is a pastor at Saddleback where his role includes leading the Premarital Mentors and Church Counseling Training Ministries. Elisa is a middle school English teacher and AVID Coordinator. Together, they have two adult children. When their 22-year old came out to them as transgender, they felt a strong need to connect with other Christian parents in a similar circumstance. They are amazed every day how God is using them to help parents walk their journey alongside their LBGTQ+ child.
Doug and Shauna Habel-Morgan
Doug and Shauna have been members of Saddleback Church for eight years. Doug is in IT at Kaiser and Shauna is a local high school teacher. They have four adult children: Jonas, Hannah, Megan, and Adrienne. Doug grew up on the mission field in Kenya. His earliest memories are of listening to his dad preach in a language he didn’t understand, being translated into another language he didn’t understand, and road trip games consisting of who could spot the most Impalas, or his dad driving as close as possible to a herd of elephants before they charged. Shauna’s father, Jaymes Morgan, grew up on the mission field of Schezwan, China. Returning stateside he became a theology professor at Fuller Seminary, teaching the “Christian Response to Social Injustice”, marching with Martin Luther King at Selma. Marrying in 2010, Doug and Shauna had four teenagers between them ranging in age from 13-15 years old. Seeking ways to navigate these teenage years, Doug discovered the men’s group, The Herd, and missions trips through Saddleback Church. Over the next five years, the family made monthly treks to build homes for the poorest of the poor in Tecate, Mexico. These journeys of faith, outside the comfort zone of SoCal, marked the greatest spiritual transformation in their family. All four children gave their hearts to the Lord and graduated from Christian universities. In 2016, the pain of a gay friend, recounting his struggles with molestation and addiction, haunted Shauna but she didn’t have anyone with whom she could talk. Googling, she found and attended The Reformation Project conference in Long Beach, California that year. There she saw gay Christians studying the Bible and worshipping God. She saw their vibrant faith, despite the pain they faced. This moved her to tears and to a newfound understanding of the great, unending, unbroken love of our Savior. In 2017, as their family meandered on a six-week trip of Europe, Hannah came out to Shauna on a train in England. In that moment, Shauna knew that God was on that train with Hannah, and that He had been on this journey with her from the very beginning. It would be yet another year before Hannah told her dad. During that time, Shauna took Hannah to a gay, Christian support group and counselor where her faith came alive. They are blessed, having their beautiful gay daughter, and finding even deeper faith together on this journey.
Andrew and Debbie James
Andrew and Debbie have been married for 23 years and have two adult children that they raised in a conservative Christian household in Denver, Colorado. Andrew is in sales for a large engineering company and Debbie is a Business Manager for their local church. They believed they understood God’s plan and purpose for their family, but over the last couple of years struggled with how to love both God and a Transgender child. After what felt like a very lonely time of wandering in the desert, they found ETJ. Following a lot of prayer, bible study and counseling, both Andrew and Debbie have clarity and a renewed enthusiasm for God’s plan for their lives. Understanding that they can love both God and their child, they have stepped out in faith and currently lead several support groups for Christian parents of Transgender children following the ETJ curriculum. Today, Andrew and Debbie cling to Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Greg McDonald is cofounder of Embracing the Journey Inc. and co-author of the book and Companion Study Guide by the same name called Embracing the Journey, A Christian parent’s blueprint to loving your LGBTQ child. Greg has enjoyed a career that spans 30 + years as an industry leader in the private sector where he served as Executive Vice President for Acosta Sales and Marketing a $40 billion sales and marketing organization. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Orphan Helpers, Renovus and has served on numerous Advisory Boards and Committees including The Clorox Company, McNeil, Nestle, Simply Eight, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Pregnancy Resource Center of West Michigan, Ada Christian School Board and Young Life. Today Greg pursues his passion of helping LGBTQ families become reconciled with each other and move one step closer to Jesus. Greg is the proud dad of Greg Jr., and Connie and is dad-in-law to Matt and Jon. He is also the adoring grandpa to three grandchildren.
Lynn McDonald is cofounder of Embracing the Journey Inc. and co-author of the book and Companion Study Guide by the same name called Embracing the Journey, A Christian parent’s blueprint to loving your LGBTQ child. Lynn’s love of people has fueled her work as a bridge-builder between the LGBTQ community, their parents and the Church. When her now-adult children were young, she was a full-time homemaker. She is passionate in her support for Orphan Helpers in the countries of Honduras and El Salvador and has served as president of Middle School Parent Teacher Organization, a volunteer crisis pregnancy counselor and has been on the Prayer Committee for Young Life Central America for over 15 years. Lynn is also a breast cancer survivor and has first-hand understanding of how a life-threatening disease can result in reprioritization of everything that is important in life. Residing in Atlanta with her husband Greg, Lynn is the proud mom of Greg Jr. and Connie as well as mom-in-law to Matt and Jon. She is also a devoted grandma to her three young grandchildren.
Lauri is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in forensics and community mental health. As a part of her graduate training at Fuller Theological Seminary, she explored the intersection of faith and mental health, which deeply resonated with Jesus’ mission of grace and love for all. This materialized in a personal and professional life-long mission to serve excluded and ostracized populations. This mandate became more personal when her young daughter revealed that she is gay. This began a transformative journey for Lauri of deconstructing and reconstructing her faith. Thankfully, this process has only served to make her family and her faith stronger. She hopes that all families can find the same sense of peace.
Lauri lives in Northern California with her husband, daughter, and two dogs where they enjoy hiking, camping, and being a part of the CrossFit community.
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.
Monte Vines is a commercial litigation attorney in Wichita, Kansas. He served for many years as an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and he remains active in church life today. He is the father of Matthew Vines, who is the Executive Director of The Reformation Project.
Jamie is Sr. Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for UP Energy, LLC in Denver, CO. His 40-year career includes leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies as well as founding several small businesses. Jamie and Rhonda are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year. Since 2008, Jamie has been active with a men’s ministry, Marked Men for Christ where he has served on the board and also leads weekend experiences around the world. For the past two years, he has been involved in the development of the ministry in Rwanda. Previously, Jamie has held volunteer leadership positions with Cherry Hills Community Church and Young Life. Jamie is an active cyclist and swimmer.
Rhonda is a certified Spiritual Director and Enneagram teacher and coach. She is an active member of Women’s Walk with Christ Ministry and has served as a Board Member and volunteer leader for the past eleven years. After teaching High School Spanish for seven years, she received her Certificate of Christian Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Denver Seminary in 2013. Rhonda is passionate about helping people grow and transform through the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus. Rhonda has led women’s retreats, Bible Studies, and Spiritual Formation groups. She has a Young Life background, working full-time as an Area Young Life staff and several years as a volunteer leader and committee member. She and Jamie live in Colorado and are thankful for their three adult kids: daughter Whitney and son-in law Tim, Luke and his wife Rachel, and Jack and his boyfriend Kyle. Rhonda is also the proud Gramz to four young grandchildren and one sweet grand dog. She loves being in the mountains, hiking and riding her bike, skiing in Winter Park, and international travel.
LGBTQ PANELISTS AND MODERATOR
Amy is the director of Parent Connect, a ministry for parents of LGBTQ+ children located in the Atlanta area. Amy is passionate about equipping parents to love their LGBTQ+ child well, and helping them discover God’s purposes for them on their journey with their child. Amy attended her first TRP Conference in 2015 and identifies as gay. She has three children, ages 20, 18 and 15. Amy lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Emily is a Transgender woman and parent to three adult children. She lives in Kansas with her sister Cindy. Born in Maine she has lived in multiple states and held multiple jobs including directing a boy’s ranch, owning a business, police officer, and driving a semi. Raised as an Independent Baptist Preachers Kid, Emily realized at an early age that something was different about her but was unable to deal with being transgender until the age of 53. Upon coming out, Emily lost her relationship with her parents, leading to a desire to assist others suffering from fundamentalist LGBT condemnation.
Jess Grace Garcia
Jess is a queer worship pastor currently residing in Los Angeles. She spent a number of years leading worship in non-affirming spaces until she took a break to rediscover what it looks like to be a queer person of faith. Jess spent the last 20 years in Baltimore, where she met and fell in love with her beautiful wife in 2014. Her wife Érica was diagnosed with fibromyalgia shortly after they got married, and in hopes of living a healthier life they uprooted their family and made the move to warm and drier weather in November 2018. After moving, she quickly got connected to the New Abbey community and soon found a place in leadership for the NoHo community as their worship pastor.
Kim grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist military family. Kim has always loved Jesus and first felt God’s call to ministry in her late teens. However, instead of attending seminary as planned after her graduation from Samford University, plans for ministry came to a halt when she came out as a lesbian. Her family was devastated. Her minister asked her to find another church. While she was thankful for the handful of friends and family that stayed by her side, she grieved the loss of the life she knew. She spent years trying to reconcile her faith and her sexuality, to no avail. At the point of taking her own life, she reached out to a friend that introduced her to TRP. Kim attended the TRP Orlando conference and the rest is history in the making. Among the greatest blessings in her life, Kim lists her relationship with her mother. Over the years, her Mom was a constant source of unconditional love. In the months before her Mom passed away last February, their conversations included faith, inclusion, and her Mom’s reiteration of her love and support of her and of God’s plan for her life.
Darin is a queer pastor, church planter, and enneagram teacher based in Los Angeles, CA. Originally from Atlanta, GA, he graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA with his Masters in Theology in 2018. With 7 years of pastoral experience, Darin does work around faith and sexuality, helping people healthily engage with Scripture and integrate their whole identities. Using the lens of the enneagram, he works with people to develop pathways towards personal and spiritual growth. Darin currently pastors the New Abbey Church community in North Hollywood.
Alejandro is a Bisexual, Bicultural, Latino American from Venezuela who loves languages (English, Italian, French, Spanish). Alejandro works in the Non-profit sector. He is a TRP alum and currently leads Affinity Atlanta which is a local group for LGBTQI Christians in the Atlanta area. He is also part of other initiatives to reach the Latinx LGBTQI community through TRP local chapters. Before coming out, he sought residential counseling, which had some tenets of “conversion therapy” and lasted for two years. This experience helps him today in being a resource to others in the LGBTQI faith community. He is passionate about his work and the opportunity to serve others and the church in creating a better path for those that have yet to live according to who God created them to be.