Learning from LGBT Christians: 2 Upcoming Events (& a giveaway!)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

This week I heard from a multitude of friends and readers who expressed frustration regarding Christian conferences that tend to speak about LGBT people as if they were an issue, removed from the Church, rather than speak with LGBT people who are in fact a part of the Church.  As important as it is to speak up about that negative trend, I think it’s even more important to support, encourage, and participate in the alternatives—gatherings led by LGBT Christians, two of which are currently registering participants. 

The first, The Reformation Project’s Regional Training Conference, happens next week in Washington, D.C.  Led by friend-of-the-blog and author of God and the Gay Christian Matthew Vines, the purpose of this event is twofold: 1) to provide training and resources on how to talk about the Bible and LGBT issues with non-LGBT-affirming Christians, and 2) to connect LGBT-affirming Christians with like-minded people for support and dialog. 

The speaker lineup this year is truly outstanding and one of the most diverse you’ll see in the Christian conference scene all year, featuring Gene Robinson, David Gushee, Danny Cortez, Rachel Murr, Oneida Chi, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Justin Lee, and more than 20 more. To learn more about the spirit and purpose of this event, check out AnaYelsi Sanchez’s piece, “Amidst Reformation: Our Chance to Change the Church” at Believe Out Loud. 

The second event—the annual Gay Christian Network Conference scheduled for January 8-11 in Portland—looks to be the largest since its inception with so many participants expected this year (more than 1300) they’ve had to move venues!  

I attended last year’s event, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was absolutely life-changing for me. (See my post about it.) I’ve never attended a Christian conference so energized by the Spirit, so devoid of empty showmanship or preoccupation with image, so grounded in love and abounding in grace.  I dedicate quite a bit of space in my new book to describing what it was like to practice confession, communion,  worship, and healing with these brothers and sisters.  I came as an ally, but I left as a sister. 

With attendees from all over the world (12 countries and more than 40 states so far),  the annual GCN conference is a gathering place for people to  celebrate both their uniqueness and their unity. This year, hundreds of LGBT Christians, family members,  friends, ministers, and more will come together in Portland for the singular purpose of  transforming how we engage with both Side A Christians ( who support same-sex relationships/marriage) and B Christians (who pursue or encourage celibacy) across the church aisle. 

I’m partnering today with GCN to give away two tickets to the Portland event.  In order to be entered for a chance to win, just share this post on Twitter  or Facebook with the #GCNconf hashtag between November 1 and November 8 (but  make sure your post is public, or the GCN folks won’t see it). A GCN representative will contact you if you’ve won. 

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians are not outsiders or enemies of the Church. They are the Church. And they are leading Her to a more hopeful, inclusive, and gospel-centered future. Will you join me and follow their lead? 

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