WORKSHOP A (Saturday 2:45 pm)
Does Scripture Allow for Same-Sex Marriage? Two Approaches – Beth Carlson-Malena
This workshop will present a compelling, compassionate version of each pole of the theological spectrum when it comes to same-sex marriage: those with a gender priority (sometimes called Side B) and those with a kinship priority (sometimes called Side A). We’ll do an overview of the different interpretations of the main biblical passages that are usually referenced in this conversation. This is a great workshop for people who are relatively new to the theological discussion around same-sex marriage, or for anyone who wants to hear an alternate perspective to their own.
Beth Carlson-Malena grew up in the prairies, moved to Vancouver to do an MDiv at Regent, where she met her wife Danice. They recently spent 3 years in Toronto, and have just moved back to the place that feels most like home to them: Vancouver. Beth is the Director of Community for Generous Space Ministries, offering pastoral care and community connection to LGBTQ+ Christians across Canada, and is also co-planting a new church in Vancouver. She enjoys reading science fiction and is learning to play jazz piano.
Introducing the Enneagram – Danice Carlson-Malena & Stephen Rathjen
Danice Carlson-Malena has about 15 years in Youth Ministry – first in the context of Canadian Baptist churches, and more recently (since coming out as queer and marrying her favourite redhead) with LGBTQ+ youth across the country. She loves reading stories through a queer lens, throwing dance parties, and meeting thoughtful youth who have questions and ideas about life, faith, sexuality, and Beyoncé (among other things). She is currently living in Vancouver and working for Generous Space Ministries, connecting with queer youth and creating new video resources.
Stephen Rathjen has a heart for social justice, music and children, and 7 years ago he found the ideal spot to put these passions to work. Since then he has been the Program Director of the Saint James Music Academy, a non-profit which provides choral and orchestral instruction free-of-charge to children from low-income families. Outside of this, he lives on Vancouver’s downtown eastside and is on the board of a missionally-focused Vineyard church congregation that meets nearby. He also helps co-facilitate the Vancouver Generous Space group, and in his spare time is an avid baker, gardener and watcher of reality television.
The Gift of Being Yourself – GM Deines
Out of all creatures, it’s only humans who have issues with identity. As adolescents we try on identities like clothing, looking for a style that fits with how we want to be seen. As adults, most of us know the occasional feeling of being a fraud. Powerful conditioning in childhood encourages us to acknowledge only the most acceptable parts of our self, and parts that are shamed become stronger, not weaker. Operating out of sight and beyond awareness, they have increasing influence on our behaviour. (All the above from “The Gift of Being Yourself” by David G. Benner) The goal is to allow these “less-than-acceptable-parts” to be recognized as God’s gift to us, and integrated into the whole person we are becoming. In this workshop, we will come up with some practical tools to combat shame-based thoughts and behaviours that keep us from becoming that whole person that God created us to be.
GM Deines is a genderqueer, born-in-the-pew, passionate (albeit somewhat inconsistent) Christ-follower who is also a recovering chocoholic. Ok, let’s be honest….who really wants to recover from that? So scrap the recovering part. GM is in a mixed-orientation marriage, and has 2 young-adult children, who as far as anyone is aware, are both straight. Before they move out, GM still anticipates that they might need money for some therapy, in regards to GM’s coming out to them last year. There is also an incorrigible 23-lb dog, that definitely needs therapy, but she will have to do her own crowd funding!
Trans & Non-Binary and the Scandal of Inclusion – Lisa Salazar
Much media attention has been given lately to the hostile pushback against the implementation of a new sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curriculum in BC and Alberta schools. The loudest critics claim to be defending religious beliefs and family values. They are often using the strategies developed and promoted by conservative Christian think tanks—the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family—to attack “transgenderism.” But do these groups speak for all Christians? What does the Bible have to say, anyway? The presentation will include a historical and social context of our current understanding and the realities of gender identity. We are not playing by the old rules anymore and concerned, open-minded Christians need to be informed. Find out why the inclusion of trans and non-binary persons in the church and society is so wonderfully scandalous.
Lisa Salazar finds it almost impossible to provide a short bio in 100 words or less. Being a professional graphic designer, she resorts to bullet points. • Born in Colombia • Grew up in California • Moved to Canada after college (1973) • Fathered (*record player scratch SFX*) 3 sons • Met Beth Carlson-Malena in 2005 on their church’s worship team in Vancouver • Transitioned at almost 58 in 2008 • Published her memoir in 2011 • Completed an MA in public and pastoral leadership in 2015 at Vancouver School of Theology • Trained as a chaplain • Serves as director on several boards • Advocates and Educates on Trans Issues • Loves vegetarian Mexican food.
WORKSHOP B (Saturday 4:00 pm)
Intersectionality & Faith: Where “Who Am I?” Gets Complicated – Gabrielle O’Neil
In this workshop we’ll investigate the ways in which we live within the intersection of identity, whether it’s as queer people of faith, women, people of colour, living with a mental health diagnosis or being differently abled. Oftentimes we are encouraged to shed all other identities as those “in Christ,” we are pushed to become one-dimensional humans without race, histories, struggles, or differences. We will explore the ways in which we become more and more like Christ precisely by engaging in the many different identities we hold and how these intersections inform our experiences.
Gabrielle O’Neil is a writer/artist, eternal student, athlete, mental health activist, speaker, performing arts consumer and captain of all things silly! Gabrielle has worked as a peer specialist for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, also partnering with MHA and WISE, presenting on lived experience, stigma reduction and suicide prevention. She is also passionate about youth mentorship, volunteering and activism. Although a Wisconsin native, with her whole family in the Milwaukee area, Gabrielle, an avid traveler, has wanderlust and has called many places “home” in the last year. Through sharing her story she wants people to feel less alone, to feel a sense of hope.
Parenting LGBTQ+ Children – Nancy Nichols
Nancy will share the story of her son’s coming out, and their family’s journey through his depression and alcoholism. We will begin to address some of the following concerns, sharing our group wisdom and experience, while listening and caring for one another:
– How do we “come out” (as parents of LGBTQ+ children) to our friends/family?
– How do we work effectively for more acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in our churches?
– How do we live with the ways this shifts our own faith and understanding of scripture?
– How do we relate with our children after they’ve been hurt by church and/or left the faith?
Nancy Nichols is a professionally certified life coach and spiritual director, who is passionate for her clients to live from their souls. Nancy’s grounded, down-to- earth, unhurried life is both nature and nurture; she grew up on a farm in Kansas, bringing in the cows and gathering the eggs. As an adult she has made choices to honour values that create the life that is important to her. Nancy’s life has been formed in the crucible of parenting two sons, one of whom is gay, 42 years of marriage, and loving a daughter-in- law and four grandchildren. Her life purpose at this time is to create beauty and joy. Ask her how! Her home for the past 38 years has been Vancouver, British Columbia, which is a long way from Kansas in more ways than one.
Poetic God, Hear Our Prayer – Rachel Taylor
In seeking God, I find Her most clearly in poetry. Poetry gives us an opportunity to explore the limits of our vocabulary, and an opportunity to reach for God in the quiet spaces between the words. Poetry assists us in walking through the murky places, and in exalting the beautiful simplicity of creation. Come and explore how each individual experience leads us to more depth and understanding of our relationship with God, and experiment with some new ways to center and prepare for personal prayer. No prior poetry experience, interest or loathing required. Come and see.
Rachel Taylor is a queer comedy performance poet currently living on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations. She was born and raised a cradle Anglican in the Tsilhqot’in region, and came out to her church in a most unexpected way. Please feel free to talk to her about it, it’s a story that never gets old, and will break the introvert ice. She is a Timelord Hufflepuff with all the worst characteristics of both parties. She is here, she is queer, and she would sometimes rather not be noticed thank you very much. (Rachel is our Artist in Residence)
Transgender and Christian: A New Look at Gender in the Bible – Shylo Rosborough
This workshop will take you on a journey from creation all the way to the first Church. Shylo will tell his story of how he came to reconcile his gender identity and faith in Christ. Through this, he will break down biblical gender in three sections. In the first section, Shylo will talk about the gender of God and Adam. The second section, Biblical Others, will explore information on eunuchs throughout biblical history and the ways they were treated. Lastly, this workshop will look at alternative interpretations of problem texts that are sometimes used by Christians to exclude transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Shylo Rosborough, after coming out as transgender, chose to follow his passion for the bible. He is now a third-year theology student at King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta. He is one of the facilitators for Edmonton’s Generous Space group, a Spiritual Director for an LGBTQ+ summer camp, and president of his university’s GSA. He hopes that with the experience of having various positions in the queer community that he can become a teacher and help bridge the gap between the queer and Christian community.
From Surviving to Thriving through Life Transitions – Gregg Taylor
What life changes have you experienced recently? Coming out and its impact on you and your relationships? Joining or leaving a community of faith? Starting or ending a relationship? Or perhaps a significant change in your beliefs and personal identity? Join us as we explore the stages of the transitions process – from endings & loss, through reorientation, to new beginnings – and the potential roadblocks we may face as we navigate personal change.
Gregg Taylor is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and co-leader of the “Word is Out” LGBT Spirituality group at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver BC. He is also Founder & Chair of Spiritpride: An LGBTQ Spirituality Conference. Gregg grew up in a mainline liberal denomination, however in his early 20’s, he joined a conservative Christian church. After long-term involvement in ex-gay ministries, Gregg realized he could no longer deny the truth of his sexuality. He considers himself fortunate to have found a community of friends who are openly gay and follow the way of Jesus. Gregg lives in Vancouver with his partner of eight years, Alvin, and is president of an employee assistance program and workplace mental health service provider.
Friday Main Introductory Session – Beth Carlson-Malena & Eric Van Giessen
Eric Van Giessen is a queer cisgender man with a passion for poetry, paradox, people, problems, and social justice. He lives in Toronto, working as Operations Manager for Generous Space Ministries alongside other LGBTQ+ Christians, and can often be found sipping a hot/cold beverage at a local watering hole with a furrowed brow whilst humming to himself. Grief, rest, anger, home, and flourishing in faith are some of the present ponderings of his day to day being.
Saturday Main Session Interview – Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey is the author of “Jesus Feminist” and “Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith.” She is a sought-after speaker at churches, universities, and conferences around the world as well as an award-winning blogger from right here in Canada. Sarah also serves on the board for both Help One Now and Heartline Ministries. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their four children. You can find her on Twitter @sarahbessey where she tweets about everything from Christian feminism to Doctor Who to ecclesiology – sometimes all at once.
Sunday Main Session Sermon – Kathy Kwon
Kathy Kwon hails from California, but in the last decade has happily made Vancouver home. “America is scary.” She is a proud alum of Cal Berkeley and a reluctantly deeply grateful alum of Regent College where she did her MDiv. Kathy enjoys bouldering, laughing louder than is necessary, singing praises to the Lord, riding motorcycles, and disguising her cynicism as “idealism” and “realism.” On Sunday mornings, she worships at Artisan Church.