Session One

Friday, 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT OF BIBLICAL REFERENCES TO SAME-SEX BEHAVIOR

Ed Oxford • he/him • Hildebrand Hall (Plymouth, second floor)

Ed Oxford started with a simple question: How could it be that the word “homosexual” did not appear in the Bible until 1946? He ended up with so much evidence to support an affirming position that he changed his mind. His quest took him thousands of miles in order to examine archives containing information that had not yet been brought into this conversation. He will be bringing part of his collection of old Bibles and theological books (some over 400 years old) in order to demonstrate how theologians have dealt with these “gay passages” throughout various periods in history.

Ed Oxford is a gay Christian, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology, and a researcher in how the Bible has been weaponized against LGBTQ people. His first book (written with Kathy Baldock), Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay, will be released in 2020.

THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Revs. Bailey Brawner & Jarell Wilson • she/her & he/him • Glacier (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

Do you want to know what’s happening with the United Methodist Church but aren’t sure what to ask? Come to this workshop to find out what’s going on, how we got here, and where the church could be heading in 2020.

The Rev. Bailey Brawner is a queer, asexual pastor who grew up in Alaska and received her MDiv from Boston University School of Theology. She serves as the Senior Pastor at Mission Hills United Methodist Church in San Diego, California.

The Rev. Jarell Wilson is a queer minister in the United Methodist Church, an activist, a theologian, and a dog dad.

Q&A WITH NICOLE GARCIA

Nicole Garcia • she/her • Sequoia (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

Following her keynote address, Nicole Garcia will offer a Q&A session for attendees who are interested in learning more about her journey of reconciling her faith and gender identity, her ministry as a transgender Latina Christian leader, her upcoming ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or about any other topics you may like to hear more from her about!

Nicole Garcia is an out and proud transgender Latina. She has a Master of Arts in Counseling from CU Denver, is a Nationally Certified Counselor, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado. She will be ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 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.

GENDER-BENDING & GENDER-BREAKING: AN ACCESSIBLE GUIDE TO DISCUSSING THE TRANS EXPERIENCE

Gus Berg • they/them • Yosemite/McKinley (Crowne Plaza, third floor)

Talking about gender doesn’t have to be scary! This workshop is designed to equip you with the basic framework for understanding your own gender identity while creating a safe and productive space to learn about the complexities of gender diversity. The discussion and games are un-intimidating and highly interactive, giving you the tools to make your own community more equitable to transgender people—without requiring a sociology degree or a dictionary to understand our experiences.

Gus Berg is a Midwest-born nonbinary lesbian. After coming out, and subsequently leaving children’s ministry in a non-affirming environment, they set to the task of educating others on concepts surrounding the complexities of gender identity, training professionals and church leaders on the practice of promoting gender diversity. Gus studied Critical Diversity Studies at the University of San Francisco, where they authored a residential curriculum for gender-inclusive on-campus housing for professionals in student affairs.

Session Two

Friday, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

HOW SCRIPTURE BECAME A SACRED WEAPON

Kathy Baldock • she/her • Hildebrand Hall (Plymouth, second floor)

If you’ve attended one of Kathy’s workshops before, this one will be different. We’ll go deeper into understanding the historic roles of male/masculine and female/feminine, the progression in understanding human bodies and heterosexuality and homosexuality, and how, when, and why several anti-LGBTQ passages got into the Bible in the 20th century. By understanding how the Bible has become a sacred weapon, you’ll be better equipped to help educate others and to engage in constructive conversations for change. Ed Oxford’s Session 1 workshop is a companion to this one. Together, they are good introductions to the Friday night event with Reverend David.

Kathy Baldock is the author of Walking the Bridgeless Canyon and the executive director of Canyonwalker Connections. She is a researcher and educator on the intersection of faith with sexual orientation and gender identity, and she has formerly served on the Board of Directors of The Reformation Project.

REFRAMING THE GOSPEL STORY: HOW LGBTQ INCLUSION IS CENTRAL TO JESUS’ KINGDOM VISION

Michelle Morrow • she/her • Sequoia (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

Stories shape everything. We constantly make meaning of our experiences by fitting them into a story. What if certain stories create barriers to becoming LGBTQ affirming? What if alternative stories could break down those barriers much more effectively than offering another rational argument in the ongoing debate over LGBTQ inclusion? In an exploration of Romans 1, this workshop will engage an alternative narrative that demonstrates LGBTQ inclusion as central to the gospel. This story has the potential to move conversations forward and sustain hope in those doing important inclusion work.

Michelle Morrow is a California transplant living near Nashville with her wife and two rescue pups. She holds Masters’s degrees in Theology and Higher Education Administration. She is a graduate of TRP’s 2018 Leadership Development Cohort, through which she gained a reinvigorated vision and passion for helping the church explore and embrace LGBTQ-affirming biblical interpretation and theology.

HOW TO SPEAK TO CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS PERSUASIVELY

Alicia Johnston & Steve McCarthy • she/her & he/him • Glacier (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

In this workshop, you will learn practical tools and a basic approach for having persuasive conversations with conservative Christians. It’s possible to do more than agree to disagree. We will talk about the barriers to such communication and how to do your part in overcoming them. We’ll also talk about common pitfalls, framing your arguments, values-based arguments, and taking care of yourself in the process. It is possible for conservative Christians to shift their positions, and in fact, it happens all the time. Join us in learning how you can advocate for an inclusive Christianity for all Christians.

Alicia Johnston is co-host of the new podcast Open Bible, which makes queer-affirming theology more accessible to conservative Christians. She is a former pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and holds an MDiv as well as an MA in Clinical Psychology. She is working on a book for Seventh-day Adventists explaining in their unique language and theology why they can affirm same-sex marriage and support gender transition. She lives in Phoenix with her wife and their adorable dog, Prescott.

Steve McCarthy is a former Young Life Area Director and worship leader. Since coming out publicly as gay, Steve has been working hard providing resources to conservative Christians interested in affirming theology, culminating in the recent launch of the Open Bible podcast.

ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER, QUEER, & CHRISTIAN: NAVIGATING OUR COLLECTIVE IDENTITIES

Kenny Ung • he/him • Yosemite/McKinley (Crowne Plaza, third floor)

Existing as an Asian Pacific Islander and queer can be complicated and lonely in an environment, especially Christian, that often fails to understand intersectionality. This workshop will help participants explore their own experiences—specifically touching on coming out, collective culture, and mental health—as members of both communities and identify their own intersectional belonging. Through discussion, participants will also help each other develop strategies for personal and communal thriving. We will be centering queer and API experiences, but we encourage non-API and non-LGBTQ-identified people to come and learn!

Kenny Ung is a graduate of TRP’s 2015 Leadership Development Cohort. Prior to joining TRP, Kenny served as the President of the Asian Pacific American Student Organization at Azusa Pacific University, advocating for racial reconciliation and community empowerment. In addition, while completing his MBA from Boise State University, Kenny served as a leader in campus ministry pioneering affirming dialogue and creating safe space for LGBTQ Christians. Kenny is the founder of Compass LA, which focuses on serving millennial Christians in the greater Los Angeles area through fostering spiritual growth and supporting members in reconciling their faith and sexuality united by a common identity as followers of Jesus Christ.

Session Three

Saturday, 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

LGBTQ 101

Dan Hammer & Ken Shulman, featuring Lambert House LGBTQ Youth • he/him & he/him • Hildebrand Hall (Plymouth, second floor)

Almost all churches seek to be welcoming, and many express a desire to love LGBTQ people well. Even so, varying levels of awareness and understanding of LGBTQ people and communities form a barrier to the welcome and love these churches seek to extend. LGBTQ cultural competency training familiarizes leaders and congregations with matters related to basic LGBTQ experiences in order to offer helpful spiritual care. This workshop provides a sampling of the training offered by Lambert House’s Faith Leader Engagement program as well as a moderated panel of youth from Lambert House, a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth in Seattle.

Dan Hammer is Program Coordinator for Faith Leader Engagement at Lambert House in Seattle. He grew up in a pastor’s family and has lived first-hand the experiences of coming out and integrating faith and identity as a gay person. He has been called as an associate pastor at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church and will be ordained on October 28.

Ken Shulman is Executive Director of Lambert House, a center for LGBTQ youth on Capitol Hill.

ROMANS 1:24-27: INTERPRETING A KEY TEXT IN THE SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS DEBATE

Dr. Jim Brownson • he/him • Sequoia (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

No biblical text is cited more frequently in church debates about same-sex marriage than Romans 1:24-27. Among the six passages in Scripture that refer in some way to same-sex relations, Romans 1 is the most significant and complex, and it can be challenging for Christians who are rethinking their views on LGBTQ inclusion to learn how to interpret and apply the words of the apostle Paul in that text faithfully. Come hear a detailed analysis and exegesis of this critical text from distinguished New Testament professor Dr. Jim 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 Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Reformation Project.

LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP: A PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE

Pastor Candace Hardnett • she/her • Glacier (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

Organizational leadership is highly challenging, and leading churches is no exception. Leading churches is especially hard when seeking to navigate change processes or when communities are divided on important issues. Come hear from Pastor Candace Hardnett, the founding Senior Pastor of Agape Empowerment Ministries in Savannah, Georgia, about lessons in leadership that can help all of us: those in formal or informal leadership roles who are working to move the conversation forward on LGBTQ inclusion in their churches, or those seeking to better understand the perspectives and concerns of their pastors and leaders as they navigate this conversation.

Pastor Candace E. Hardnett is the founding Senior Pastor of Agape Empowerment Ministries in Savannah, Georgia. Pastor Candace served her country as a United States Marine for five years and then served as her squadron Lay Leader for the Marines and the Ministry of Convalescence at the church where she was a member in San Diego, California. She holds a BS in Religion from Liberty University and is currently in pursuit of her MDiv from her alma mater.

BECOMING AN EXEGETE: NEVER READ THE BIBLE THE SAME WAY AGAIN

Erin Green • she/her • Yosemite/McKinley (Crowne Plaza, third floor)

If you grew up in a fundamentalist or conservative church setting, you have been trained to read the Bible a certain way. Undoing that training is difficult and painful. Many of us are in a process known as “deconstruction,” as we are learning that the ways we have been trained to understand Scripture have been harmful, problematic, and even abusive. As a gay Bible nerd and biblical scholar, Erin Green wants to help you learn that you can love Scripture again. She wants to help you become the exegete and hermeneut you deserve to be as an LGBTQ Christian or ally and to help you feel authoritative in your knowledge and understanding of Scripture. This workshop will provide the essential tools and resources for basic exegesis and hermeneutical principles. (Biblical language training is not needed!) In the latter portion of the workshop, we will exegete Matthew 19 together, a lesser-known verse that many non-affirming scholars believe is one of the largest pieces of evidence demonstrating that Jesus did not affirm same-sex relationships. Warning: after this workshop, you will never read the Bible the same way again.

Erin Green is a biblical scholar and LGBTQ activist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Azusa Paci c University and is currently a second-year MDiv student at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Her specialties are in the entire Christian biblical corpus with an emphasis on the Hebrew Bible, the ancient Near East, exegesis, and how to employ various hermeneutical methods. Her passion is in helping those excluded by the church to heal from spiritual abuse and trauma by navigating the biblical text in restorative ways. Erin is also the Co-Executive Director of Brave Commons, a queer Latinx-led group seeking to dismantle oppressive systems at Christian universities and address the denial of basic human rights of LGBTQ students.

Session Four

Saturday, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

QUEEROLOGY LIVE PODCAST RECORDING

Matthias Roberts • he/him • Hildebrand Hall (Plymouth, second floor)

Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being is one of the leading podcasts about the intersection of Christianity and LGBTQ identity. Come sit in on a live podcast recording featuring Matthias Roberts and key voices from throughout the Reconcile and Reform conference weekend.

Matthias Roberts is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMHCA) in the state of Washington. He holds an MA in Theology and Culture and an MA in Counseling Psychology. He is the creator of the podcast Queerology and the author of the forthcoming book Beyond Shame.

CHURCH TRADITION & LGBTQ INCLUSION: HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND DISCUSS EARLY CHRISTIAN TRADITION USING AN AFFIRMING HERMENEUTIC

James Nagy • he/him • Sequoia (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

This presentation will provide a general overview of the theological concerns of the Early Church (~200-500 AD) related to sexuality, specifically same-sex activity, and how those concerns are frequently misappropriated and misunderstood by “traditionalists.” We will discuss specific texts from the Early Church as well as provide interpretive tools to use when discussing these and similar texts. We will primarily focus on questions of “moral logic” (to borrow a term from Dr. Jim Brownson), contextuality, and ethical interpretations. There will be a small group discussion component and Q&A time. No prior knowledge is assumed.

James Nagy graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with an MA in Theology in 2015 and from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a degree focusing on church history. He has assisted with The Reformation Project’s Leadership Development Cohort program since 2016. James currently lives with his partner in Ithaca, NY, where he works for Cornell University. In his free time, he works on questions of biblical interpretation and sexuality in Late Antique Christianity.

BORN THIS WAY: A LOOK AT THE INTERSECTION OF SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE

Ceri Anne Lewis • she/her • Glacier (Crowne Plaza, lobby floor)

The Bible begins with the story of our creation in the image of God. For many people, the understanding of gender and sexuality ends with “God created them male and female.” In this workshop, we will look deeper into the context of creation, and instead of butting heads with science, we’ll explore how recent and deeper understandings of fetal development mesh with Scripture to show not only how transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and intersex people are created by God, but are also blessed.

Ceri Anne Lewis is a Christian transgender woman and parent of two adult kids. She lives in Kansas City, is a Navy Veteran, and grew up in an evangelical family. While reconciling her faith with being transgender, she was called to help others struggling with their faith. She attends United Methodist Church of the Resurrection working with LGBT ministries and is an Annual Conference Delegate. She has worked as a Scout and Church Youth Leader, having led many youth missions. Ceri is an engineer and photographer, including newspapers, naval intelligence, studio, dance, and theater.

MOVING CHURCHES FORWARD ON LGBTQ INCLUSION: A CASE STUDY

Rev. Craig Morton • he/him • Yosemite/McKinley (Crowne Plaza, third floor)

From 2018-2019, Rev. Craig Morton worked with a congregation in Salem, Oregon, to develop a statement of inclusion. As a congregation with a wide variety of views on LGBTQ inclusion, he worked with the church elders to design a series of congregational conversations to process the developing statement of inclusion. Over the course of four congregational gatherings and many individual conversations, a statement of inclusion was discussed, questioned, and refined. The series of the congregational conversations, the individual conversations, and the process of leadership advocating for full inclusion led to a model of how to manage these conversations with congregations dealing with traditional and progressive views.

Rev. Craig Morton is a co-vocational pastor who has served in the planting of a Mennonite church and also works as a church consultant, adjunct professor, and track coach. He has been an ordained pastor in the Mennonite Church USA for 30 years. Recently, he completed his doctorate in business, studying some of the forces which lead to unity in the Mennonite Church USA denomination. As a consultant, he has served dozens of congregations from multiple denominational backgrounds.