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Breakout Sessions What are you most interested in? Each year, the GCN Conference offers numerous interactive sessions on a variety of topics. You can attend the sessions that appeal to you most.



Please note that the views expressed in these sessions are those of the presenters themselves and do not necessarily represent the views of The Gay Christian Network.

Session A

Jane Clementi

Q&A with Jane ClementiPresented by Jane Clementi

In this Q&A session, Jane Clementi will answer your questions and offer further exploration of the topics covered in her general session keynote.

Kevin Garcia

Owning Your Story & Impacting OthersPresented by Kevin Garcia

Do you ever get exhausted by debating and defending your existence as a queer and/or progressive Christian? In this workshop, learn why your story is the best tool for impacting others. You’ll learn how to harness the power of your personal narrative, use it as your grounding, find more peace in your everyday life, and gain the confidence to share your unique perspective with the world.

John Lazo

HIV Positive and Christian: The Fight to Eliminate StigmaPresented by John Lazo

This session will challenge attendees to look beyond mere charitable impulses when connecting with people who are HIV+ by fostering a frank discussion of what it is like to be a Christian living with HIV. John Lazo will share his own story of living with HIV for 26 years and how that has impacted his life as a Christian. And just as Jesus refused to stigmatize sufferers of disease, we will explore eliminating HIV stigma in our congregations.

Erica Lea

Living Your CallPresented by Erica Lea

Do you feel called to ministry or a particular vocation? Do you sense God has a new door for you to walk through? We will look at different ways God calls people in the Bible and some approaches to discernment from St. Ignatius of Loyola. This session will leave with some tools and inspiration to ask, What is God’s story for me?

Moderator: Shane Bauman

Stories from Those Who Believe in Waiting Until MarriagePresented by Moderator: Shane Bauman

Come hear the stories of LGBTQ Christians who believe in reserving sex for marriage. Whether you are single or in a relationship, a virgin or sexually experienced, committed to waiting or still on the fence, this session offers encouragement and discussion in a way that breaks through the shame-based ideas of purity culture and gives people a healthy view of sex which honors its power to connect people.

Wendy Cheesman

Why Your Story Matters to Your Health Care ProviderPresented by Wendy Cheesman

There are many stories of patients being denied service because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI). SOGI minorities also have unique health care determinants which result in poorer health outcomes than their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts. This session will explore options for finding LGBTQ-friendly providers and strategies for dealing with discrimination.

Kevin Wright

Breaking Up for the BetterPresented by Kevin Wright

Knowing when to leave a troubled relationship can be the key to a happy and healthy life. This session will provide tools to help you evaluate the most intimate relationships in your life. You’ll also gain strategies for saying goodbye to these relationships so that, once the dust settles, you will be able to emerge as a happier and healthier person.

Greg & Lynn McDonald

For Parents: Embracing the New NormalPresented by Greg & Lynn McDonald

While our kids have been processing their sexual identity for years, parents are forced to deal with this newfound information all at once. This time of grieving and practicing damage control frequently leaves parents living in a state fear. We will discover how to embrace our new normal and turn conflict into a conversation that helps our children take a step closer to Jesus.

Danny Cortez

Set FreePresented by Danny Cortez

We are all imprisoned by something—an ideology, a doctrine, hurtful words, past trauma, lies. This session will explore through scripture and personal story, God’s process of liberation and self acceptance. When we are able to break free from the things that imprison us, we will be set free from fear and self-hate in order to experience God’s love for us and others.

Eric Hovis

LGBTQ 101Presented by Eric Hovis

Whether you are still exploring your place in the community, have a loved one or congregant as a member, or just want to know more, this session will help you better understand what it means to be LGBTQ. We will use the lenses of language, psychological and social development, and story to help build understanding, empathy and connection among participants.

Session B

Paula Williams

Q&A with Paula WilliamsPresented by Paula Williams

In this Q&A session, Paula Williams will answer your questions and offer further exploration of the topics covered in her general session keynote.

David & Constantino Khalaf

Modern Kinship: Living Out a Gay Christian MarriagePresented by David & Constantino Khalaf

When the Khalafs became engaged, they couldn’t find good resources on marriage for LGBTQ Christians. So, for the past year, they’ve been blogging about their own marriage experiences in relation to church, their families, and each other. Hear about what they’ve learned and what they’re still learning as a married gay couple.

Emmy Kegler & Austen Hartke

Fire in Your Bones: So You Want to Go to SeminaryPresented by Emmy Kegler & Austen Hartke

As various churches and denominations become more willing to welcome LGBTQ people in their seminaries and pulpits, how do you recognize if you have a call to ministry? How do you pursue it if your congregation, pastor, or denomination isn’t supportive? And what is seminary for, anyway?

Stories of Hope: I Love to Tell My StoryPresented by Moderators: Donna Schaffer & Betsy Henning

Hear from a diverse panel of parents how relationships have grown and changed since learning of their child’s sexual orientation. Coming from multiple levels of understanding, but with a common theme of love, this panel will discuss what attendees can do and expect when sharing their own stories with their parents and family.

Alicia Crosby & Jason Bilbrey

Making Faith TransitionsPresented by Alicia Crosby & Jason Bilbrey

Changes in your religious identity can present unique challenges. You might hold on to some positive memories and shared values—or maybe spend years unpacking past abuse. Join us for an honest, charitable group discussion about making faith transitions. We would love to hear your experiences and perspectives as we talk about evolving beliefs, spiritual trauma, new communities of support, the role of faith within cultural and racial identities, and more.

Amanda Lynn Holmes

Who Tells Your Story?Presented by Amanda Lynn Holmes

Who tells your story? Who advocates on your behalf? Come learn how to tell your story and change the hearts and minds of those who create legislation that affects your everyday life. This will be a practical introduction to faith-based advocacy and lobbying, including story mapping and practicing sharing your story.

Moderator: Robert Cottrell

For Straight Dads of LGBTQ KidsPresented by Moderator: Robert Cottrell

We will discuss issues and struggles unique to being the father of an LGBTQ child and learn tools to deepen your relationship with your child, heal wounds, address friends and family, and deal with those at church. Bring your questions, your fears, your heart—and join us for this workshop by dads, for dads.

Ling Lam

Healing from Relational and Emotional PainPresented by Ling Lam

This breakout session looks at how healing can occur from past relational and emotional pains. Blending science, faith, and lived experiences, participants can learn to foster deep healing from the inside out.

Joni Miller

How Can I Forgive When I Feel Like Screaming?Presented by Joni Miller

Forgiveness is a multi-layered concept, and forgiving someone is a process. In this workshop, we’ll learn to practice some steps that lead to forgiveness, processing in small groups. Some may chose to listen and not share. We will end with a healing meditation to close any wounds that may have been opened during the session.

Lance Hurst

***CANCELED*** Taking Back the Holy Story: Queer Readings of the BiblePresented by Lance Hurst

As a queer community, we know the pain, guilt, and shame that can be so easily inflicted by the Bible’s interpreters. But what if we could take back this holy story and be empowered in our queer experience through this story? This session will create a conversation about the way that we can read, interpret, and use the Bible in helpful and healthy ways for the queer community.

Session C

Justin Lee

Q&A with Justin LeePresented by Justin Lee

In this Q&A session, GCN’s executive director will answer your questions and lead discussion on issues including theology, advocacy, and GCN’s future plans

Anthony Venn-Brown

Being an LGBT Ambassador & Bridge BuilderPresented by Anthony Venn-Brown

We can create deep and long-lasting change by proactively engaging individual Christian leaders, churches, and denominations in informed, intelligent, and respectful dialogue. This session presents a 7-step process that shifts people from places of hatred and discomfort to finally become advocates for the LGBTQ community.

Kevin Wright

Intersectionality, Identity, and Why This Matters for YouPresented by Kevin Wright

The people who comprise the LGBTQ family can be very different from one another. Sometimes these differences speak to the way in which certain individuals have more power and privilege than others. This session offers a helpful primer in understanding how the multiple identities we wear (race, class, gender, etc.) intersect with each other, and how individuals might be in the same LGBTQ family but have completely different experiences from our own.

Katherine Apostolacus, Austen Hartke, Ben Sousineau, & Davis Roberts

Theologies of Transgender Millennial ChristiansPresented by Katherine Apostolacus, Austen Hartke, Ben Sousineau, & Davis Roberts

Four young transgender Christians from a range of denominations give their perspectives on how one can be transgender and also be Christian. What theological or doctrinal changes can various denominations make to be more affirming of transgender Christians? How does one handle their belief in God in light of experiencing gender dysphoria? How is our theology influenced by our experiences?

Susan Cottrell

Reclaiming the Story of Jesus from the Non-Affirming ChurchPresented by Susan Cottrell

This session will retell the stories of Jesus from the perspective of the marginalized and recapture God’s expansive and inclusive love for all of us. We will bring new light to tiresome questions about “going and sinning no more,” “tough love,” and other badly abused passages. You will rediscover the heart of Jesus for you, reclaim his teachings and his story, and walk away revitalized and full of hope.

Jefferson Clark, Jaden Rajah, & Anissa Plattner

Addressing Controversial Topics On Christian CampusesPresented by Jefferson Clark, Jaden Rajah, & Anissa Plattner

This breakout session will share the stories of LGBTQ individuals on conservative Christian campuses. Drawing from their own experiences, the presenters will teach attendees how to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students and allies on-campus.

Jay & Lindsey Elmquist

Coming Out To Your KidsPresented by Jay & Lindsey Elmquist

Do your kids know you’re gay? This session is designed to be a safe place to hear stories of families and their experiences with the process of dealing with an LGBTQ parent. Jay and Lindsey will share from their experiences and identify strategies that ease the situations that may occur. We&rsquold like to hear your story, too!

Davin & Gwendolyn Clemons

Unleashing Your VisionPresented by Davin & Gwendolyn Clemons

Unleashing your vision reveals the part of you that is fully capable right now of opening hearts, inspiring change, and moving others to act through public speaking. This is a highly interactive session that will give you tools for interpersonal communication, team building, and self-empowerment.

Sue Gilmore

Keeping the FaithPresented by Sue Gilmore

If you are a member of a church but are often discouraged by the slow progress toward full acceptance of LGBTQ Christians, this breakout session is for you. The road has been long with many setbacks. Come and be encouraged in your faith and hear how others are standing strong, what you need to do to be ready for the times ahead, and how to keep the faith.

Lisa Kelly

Strengthening Our Sense of Self and IdentityPresented by Lisa Kelly

After decades of hiding my sexual orientation, it was through mindfulness, meditation, and contemplative prayer that I found the boldness to face my reality. This session will be mostly spent in the practice of mindfulness meditation and the ancient gift of Lectio Divina, where in a group we can sit with ourselves and not hide.

Session D

Gene Robinson

Q&A with Gene RobinsonPresented by Gene Robinson

In this Q&A session, Gene Robinson will answer your questions and offer further exploration of the topics covered in his general session keynote.

Justin Lee

Making the Biblical Case for Same-Sex RelationshipsPresented by Justin Lee

In this session, GCN Executive Director Justin Lee will make a passionate case for the Bible’s support of same-sex couples and show you how to make a strong case yourself.

David & Colin Evans-Carlson

For Better Than WorsePresented by David & Colin Evans-Carlson

Join David and Colin, married therapists, as they help you explore practical ways to make your relationship more of the better and less of the worse. Using their clinical and personal experience, they will help you learn how to build deeper attachment, reduce conflict, improve communication, and strengthen marital sexuality. Content will draw from current research on how to keep couples connected, committed, and happy together.

Marg Herder

When the Story’s Over: Holding onto God While Letting GoPresented by Marg Herder

For many of us who grew up in the church, the story of our faith was intricately interwoven with the story of our spiritual community. When we came out, that story ended, leaving us unsure of how to live our faith without our community. Come for a discussion of how to hold on to God and move into a new, even more beautiful story.

Derek & Dan Kaser

Coming Out of the Church ClosetPresented by Derek & Dan Kaser

Whether you’re an LGBTQ person looking to come out to your church or you’re a parent, ally, pastor, or church leader looking to make your church genuinely welcoming and embracing of LGBTQ believers, this session will provide real world ideas to improve relationships between LGBTQ people and their churches.

Amanda Molé

The Church’s Role in Abusive Same-Sex RelationshipsPresented by Amanda Molé

In this session, participants will learn the dynamics of power and control specific to same-sex relationships, the Biblical case for Christian intervention in abusive relationships, how churches and individuals can safely intervene and support survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and how to craft a compelling story.

Susan, Mark, & Ben Shopland; Bethany Hurley

Trading Spaces: The Other View of the Closet DoorPresented by Susan, Mark, & Ben Shopland; Bethany Hurley

If you’re gay, you have a coming out story. If you’re the family member of a gay person, you have your own story. In this session, four members of a family share their stories and tell how the coming out process deepened their connection to one another. Participants will have an opportunity to share their stories and learn from others.

Carolyn Reyes & Deb Cuny

Don’t Try to Fix What Ain’t BrokePresented by Carolyn Reyes & Deb Cuny

Various states and cities have enacted laws that prohibit conversion therapy. But what are we doing to end comparable practices in faith communities? They can be just as traumatizing, creating long-lasting psychological and spiritual harm. Let’s talk about the whys and hows of these practices and share strategies for ending them.

Tiffany Adams

How to Leave an Unforgettable WitnessPresented by Tiffany Adams

Learn how to overcome intimidation and present an authentic witness for Christ in your daily life. Own your story of relationship with Jesus apart from the reconciliation debate. You have a story of love, growth, and joy to share with others. Learn how to boldly share your truth in ways that will inspire others to the faith.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Self Image, Self-Esteem, & Sexual Identity: The ConnectionsPresented by Anthony Venn-Brown

LGBTQ Christians have often spent years living with internal conflict. The negative messages we have received can continue to impact us subconsciously even after we reconcile our faith and sexuality or gender identity. This session helps you find practical principles to effect change.

Stan Maszcak

The One Thing Keeping You Stuck in Someone Else’s StoryPresented by Stan Maszcak

Ever wake up in the morning, hit snooze 47 times, get up, look into the mirror and have to talk yourself into going to work? Ever get cut off on the freeway and feel your blood pressure surge through the roof? Uncover the hidden patterns keeping you from designing the life you were born to live, with practical tools and tips to decrease stress, anxiety, frustration and fatigue.

Session E

Darren Calhoun

LGBTQ Identity in WorshipPresented by Darren Calhoun

As churches become more aware of the unique gifts that the LGBTQ experience brings to worship, we’ll explore stories and practices that show how language, leadership, and inclusion can make your church a place where LGBTQ Christians and their allies can truly belong.

Emmy Kegler

Wrestling with God: Longing to Love the Bible (Again)Presented by Emmy Kegler

The stories of Scripture are meant to capture the work and hope of a redeeming, compassionate God—and the people God longs for. But when the Bible is used to abuse and condemn, the connection between biblical story and our story is lost. In this session, we’ll work through a number of ways to interpret the Bible while cultivating an awareness of our own faith experiences and stories.

Matthias Roberts & Kevin Garcia

Stand Your Holy Ground: Moving Beyond the DebatePresented by Matthias Roberts & Kevin Garcia

Choosing to engage with life is difficult. For queer Christians, there is an added layer of defense: defending our theology, our stories, and our existence. In this workshop, bloggers Matthias Roberts and Kevin Garcia will facilitate conversations about fear, shame, self-worth, empathy, and courage in order to move past the debates and towards holy ground. You will need a notebook and a pen/pencil for this session.

Candice Czubernat

Relational Stories: How to Grow a Healthy LGBTQ RelationshipPresented by Candice Czubernat

Have you ever wondered how to nurture a same-sex relationship, get married, and start a family? If so, this session is for you. My wife and I have been together for 11 years and married for three. I will explore techniques that will help your relationship thrive and discuss how to navigate getting married and starting a family.

Ruth Roberts

Coming Out: Understanding a Parent’s JourneyPresented by Ruth Roberts

Everyone has a coming out story, even parents. Join Ruth as she shares her tumultuous but hope-filled journey through three “comings out,” two gay and one transgender. We will travel to the other side as parents and LGBTQ attendees trade stories creating respect, honor, and empathy of each other’s journey.

Wesley van der Linde

Creativity in a World of SufferingPresented by Wesley van der Linde

In this highly creative and practical session, you will learn what it is to face that thing that causes you suffering, to speak it, and then to let it shape you into a better person. You will have an opportunity to share your own personal story, and bare witness to others, and together we will learn what it is to live creatively in the face of our ugliest mess.

Surviving a Trans-Cis Relationship: Two Couples’ StoriesPresented by Bobbi & Cathy Ullinger; Jake & Erin Nash

Cathy was unaware of Bobbi’s gender identity prior to her coming out. Erin knew of Jake’s gender identity early in their relationship, prior to their marriage. Hear the stories of two trans-cis couples and the dynamics of their very different relationships. Attendees are encouraged to actively participate through questions and discussion.

Amber Cantorna

Dealing with Grief and Loss in the LGBTQ Christian CommunityPresented by Amber Cantorna

Many of us have experienced rejection through coming out, often causing us to feel ostracized by our family, friends, and church. This session will incorporate both teaching and group discussion as we talk about how to find healing and how to process grief in order to move forward from where we are into where God wants to take us on this often difficult journey.

Ling Lam

Creating Life-Giving RelationshipsPresented by Ling Lam

Relationships are hard. Yet a healthy, life-giving love relationship can also be very sweet and fulfilling. Grounded in timeless biblical principles, informed by cutting-edge scientific research, and based on clinical experience gleaned from hundreds of counseling sessions with real-life couples, this breakout session explores what it takes to have a successful relationship. Both singles and partnered participants are welcome.

Brian Joyner

The Secret to a Compelling Story: The Five Plot PointsPresented by Brian Joyner

We all know that a story needs a beginning, middle and end, but few people know the secret to crafting a compelling story that grabs the reader and keeps her engaged. This session will teach you the five essential plot points that all stories need. We’ll examine the Biblical story of Job and look at how the writer uses each of these points to tell a compelling narrative.

Kathy Baldock

Untangling the Mess: A Historical Look at LGBTQ DiscriminationPresented by Kathy Baldock

A verbal and graphic timeline of cultural and religious discrimination of LGBTQ people in America, starting with ancient cultures and progressing to modern day. Baldock will show how our understanding of same-sex behavior has been influenced by science, governmental and legal policies, cultural changes, psychoanalysis, and the merger of politics and religion.