DELAWARE, Ohio – Defining sexuality, morality, and marriage. Examining the Bible’s teachings for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Understanding same-sex parents in church and culture.
These are just a few of the topics that will be discussed during “Love Across The Spectrum: LGBT Christians Speak Out,” a two-day conference sponsored Nov. 8-9 by the Ohio Wesleyan University Chaplain’s Office. Event registration is under way now, with discounts available for those who sign up before Sept. 25.
Keynote speakers for the event will include Justin Lee, founder and executive director of The Gay Christian Network, and Jennifer Knapp, a Grammy nominated, Dove Award-winning singer.
Lee grew up as a conservative Southern Baptist, preaching against gay acceptance until questions about his own sexuality changed everything he thought he knew. He is the author of “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate” and has appeared in numerous media outlets, including “Dr. Phil,” “Anderson Cooper 360,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and The New York Times.
“[M]any people are hurting because of misunderstandings about gay people,” Lee writes in his blog, “Crumbs on the Communion Table.” “When gay people come out – especially those who defy stereotypes – it’s a way of humanizing the issue and helping people understand. If you know I’m gay, maybe you’ll be more prepared to support your nephew or best friend when he comes out as gay. And when I come out as gay and Christian, maybe your nephew or best friend will have someone to look to as a role model, to know that he doesn’t have to leave his faith behind because of what he’s experiencing.”
Knapp was a premier artist in Christian Contemporary Music before choosing to confront long-held speculation about her sexuality with a very public “coming out” in 2010. Her candor and compassion resulted in overwhelming appeals for her to discuss the challenging issue of LGBT inclusion and affirmation in religious communities. Today, she presents “Inside Out Faith,” sharing her spiritual journey through story, music, and conversation. Read more at her website.
Additional speakers will include Pádraig Ó Tuama and the Rev. Amy E. DeLong. Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, and peace worker from Ireland. He specializes in helping groups navigate difficult conversations and has helped groups discuss violent conflict as well as political, ideological, and theological disagreements. His theological interest lies in examining the social interactions of Jesus in the gospels and exploring those interactions in light of difficult conversations in contemporary society. Read his In the Shelter of Each Other blog.
DeLong is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and executive director of Kairos CoMotion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to progressive theological education and advocacy. She witnesses passionately for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of the church. In 2011, she underwent a church trial for blessing a same-sex union and for being “a self-avowed, practicing homosexual.” DeLong is the co-author and co-editor of “The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality.”
In addition to hearing these nationally and internationally recognized speakers, participants in Ohio Wesleyan’s “Love Across The Spectrum” conference will be invited to join in workshop discussions on topics including:
- We’ve Always Been Redefining Sexuality, Morality, and Marriage
- LGBTs and The Bible
- Faith, Family, and Freedom: Same-Sex Parents in Church and Culture
- Where is My Home? Love and Acceptance in Church Communities
- Of Sacred Worth: Ally Parents and LGBT Kids
People are invited to register now through Nov. 1 for the conference, with student and general public discounts available to anyone who registers online before Sept. 25. Early registration is $35 for students and $60 for the general public; regular registration is $45 and $70, respectively. Read more about the Love Across the Spectrum conference and register online.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.