Workshops

One of the most exciting parts of For Everyone Born is the opportunity to engage with each other through various workshop offerings. Workshops are intended to provide hands-on training opportunities to learn and hone skills for vital congregational ministries, advocacy for LGBTQ equality, engaging persons in the intersections of justice issues, and equipping United Methodists for the Called General Conference in February 2019.

Children and Youth

A1: These are our bodies

Talking about faith and sexuality at church and home requires a partnership between churches and families. This workshop seeks to empower individuals, especially youth leaders, to connect faith with bodies, gender, and sexuality through faithful exploration and discussion.

Abbi Long is the co-author of These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith and Sexuality at Church and Home, published through Church Publishing, Inc. for ages preschool through middle school.

 

DeEtte Decker is the Minister of Christian Education and Youth at St. Mark’s United Church of Christ in Louisville, KY. Abbi and Dee are getting married this summer. 

A2: LGBTQ+ Children and Youth in the Life of the Local Church

This workshop will equip adults who work with children and youth with information on how to develop, author and implement best policies and practices for the inclusion and protection of LGBTQ+ children and youth into the life of the local church programing. Topics will also include pastoral care of children, youth, parents and families and how to support families who have been harmed by the church and are looking for safe places to belong.

Jennifer Solis is the Director of Senior High Youth and College Ministries at Boston Avenue Church in Tulsa, OK. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and a master’s degree in special education. Jennifer is passionate about youth leadership development, creating God’s vision of community on earth, inclusion, coffee and cats. 

A3: Welcoming and Affirming Churches in Children's Books: A Reading and Discussion of A CHURCH FOR ALL

Very few children’s books exist about LGBTQ+ welcoming and affirming churches. Join Gayle Pitman for a reading and discussion about her new children’s book, A CHURCH FOR ALL, and hear more about what prompted her to write it, the challenges in getting it published, and the ways in which children’s books can help inspire social change. Inspired by Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, A CHURCH FOR ALL is a simple, lyrical story celebrating a Sunday morning at an inclusive church that embraces all people regardless of age, class, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Gayle Pitman teaches Psychology and Women/Gender Studies at Sacramento City College by day. By night, she writes children’s books and engages in other forms of subversive creativity. Her debut picture book, This Day in June, won the 2015 ALA Stonewall Award, was a Rainbow List Top Ten pick, and won the IRA’s 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society Award.

Local Church and Conference Work

D1: Peacemaking Circles: Running Meetings, Keeping the Peace

This workshop will offer an experiential learning of a Peacemaking Circle (as passed to me by Saroeum Phoung who was taught by Chief Mark Wedge of the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people) to learn how to create a space where all voices can be heard and held.  We currently use Peacemaking Circles to do healing work with youth, communities, victims, offenders, and the justice system to divert high-level violent felonies from the punitive justice system.  Peacemaking Circles help people to be true to who they are and encourages allowing others to hold to their own sacred truth with the foundational value being: The only person you can change is yourself. 

The Rev. Terri Stewart is the Director of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, a program of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.  They are an elder from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference who focuses on working with incarcerated youth and how community members can be carriers of hope for the hopeless.

D2: 7 Issues to Master for a Biblical Defense of LGBTQI+ Inclusion

While the idea of promoting LGBTQI+ inclusion and affirmation may seem daunting, the arguments against it tend to fall into predictable patterns. Because of this, having a Bible-based foundation and a framework for response is achievable. This workshop presents seven pillars of understanding which equip attendees to begin engaging in discussion and form a basis for continued study.  Topics include: Who is God?;  What is the Bible?; Jesus and the Law; Can a Christian be a Sinner?; Who Does Jesus Condemn and Why?; Male and Female, God Created Them; Sexuality and Marriage. Each section is based on particular kinds of arguments participants are likely to hear and will include examples of those statements and potential responses for them.

Suzanne DeWitt Hall is an author and a frequent contributor to the RMN blog. She and her wife will be participating in an LGBTQ+ panel moderated by Trish Gunby at Missouri Annual Conference in June. You can check out her LGBTQI+ devotional at www.wheretrueloveis.com.  She is currently working on a companion book specifically for non-binary and transgender people.

D3: Energizing Your Annual Conference from the Ground Up

Members of BWARM (the Baltimore Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists) and VRUM (Virginia Reconciling United Methodists) will share methods, resources, and strategies for mobilizing RUMs in your Annual Conference. Baltimore Washington and Virginia Reconcilers have effectively organized within each Annual Conference (district by district) and across Conference boundaries for the past 10 years. Attendees will learn practical techniques for reaching, teaching, and organizing individuals and church groups for moving towards a fully inclusive UMC. Some time will be allowed for brainstorming with small groups.

Mark Elder and Dr. Mittie Quinn are members of the Virginia and Baltimore Washington Annual Conferences, respectively. Mark is a member of Fairlington UMC in Alexandria, VA and Mittie attends Dumbarton UMC in Washington DC.  They have worked with individual United Methodists, local UM churches, and within their Annual Conferences toward the full inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in the United Methodist Church.   They also collaborate across their neighboring conference boundaries creating opportunities to further the mission and work of the Reconciling Ministries Network.

D4: The Reconciling Process - using the Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit

Do you want to help your congregation, Sunday School class or campus ministry go through the reconciling process? Or maybe there is a church in your area you’d like to help?  Then this is the workshop for you!  We will walk through the Institute of Welcoming Resources’ Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit and the eleven steps they outline. There will be a question and answer session with folks who have recently been through the process in their congregation.

Alex Shanks is a Christian trans-man and spoken word poet currently serving as the North Central Regional Organizer for RMN. Previously he’s served in a variety of capacities in the United Methodist Church, many revolving around discipleship of different ages. He lives in Ohio with his wife Rachael and their two dogs, Maya and Kaiser.

D5: Starting with the Bible

Too often in discussions in our churches about LGBTQ concerns, the temperature rises when the Bible is introduced.  We tend to think that talking about the Bible gets in the way of our justice-seeking endeavors. However, the Bible can be a starting point for tough discussions in our churches—whether that be in an African or American context.  The Bible can provide the grounding for meeting together,  building relationships and talking lovingly about difficult issues.  Come, listen and share our passion as Christians for the Bible which informs and enlivens our faith!

Rev. Grace Imathiu was born and raised in a Methodist preacher’s home in Kenya and appointed Lead Pastor of First UMC, Evanston, Illinois as of July 1, 2018.  She previously served at Community UMC in Naperville, Illinois. Grace was ordained in the Methodist Church in Kenya and has served churches in Kenya and the U.S. Rev. Imathiu was educated in Kenya, the U.S., England and at the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus. Grace is author of two books, is married to photographer David Hay Jones and is the mother of one son.

Intersectionality

B1: Sacred Resistance as an Expression of Christ's Love

This workshop explores our experience that true Kindom-building “Sacred Resistance” is based on Jesus’ teaching to love one another as God loves us.  Jesus makes this calling so clear in Matthew 22. We will use examples of experiences from the past year to re-enforce our central theme of resisting injustice with love inspired by God. Experiences we’ll share include talking with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, protesting for social justice, doing acts of civil disobedience, participating in prayer vigils, all showing how the Spirit inspires compassion and collaboration when we approach resistance with love. We’ll do role playing with specific situations to help folks turn their heart-felt “righteous anger” into a loving expression of what they believe the Spirit is telling us is right and just.

Ed Crump is a lay leader and native Washingtonian from Foundry UMC in Washington, DC.  Ed is Foundry’s representative to the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network and a member of the board of that ministry.  Ed also is a regular volunteer with Foundry’s ID Ministry, providing birth certificates and ID’s to some of the most vulnerable among us. Ed’s day job is in Information Technology with the Department of the Interior.

Rev. Ben Roberts is a North Carolina native from Oak Island. After graduating from Greensboro College in 2008 Ben enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary. During his seminary years he worked an internship with former North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller and spent one year abroad teaching English in Burkina Faso.  Upon graduating Wesley, Ben filled an interim position at Foundry UMC, then was hired full-time as the Director of Social Justice Ministries.   

B2: Decolonizing, Disrupting, Dismantling: Queer Movements in the Imperialist Church

Queer movements working for LGBTQ liberation within the Church are bound by the institutional power and privilege that have established Christendom systems of racism, sexism, and heteronormative patriarchy. Participants will examine these systems, and queer justice movements, to interrogate ways in which our own practices have recapitulated the dominant “norms.” Calling on the shared wisdom of participants, the workshop will develop skills to disrupt the practices that privilege whiteness and perpetuate systemic oppression.   THIS IS A 3-HOUR WORKSHOP over two sessions.

Israel I. Alvaran is an ordained Elder in the Philippines Annual Conference of the UMC who has served as pastor, youth minister and university and seminary faculty in the Philippines. He is currently under appointment to serve as an organizer with Reconciling Ministries Network. A long-time activist, Israel worked as Person-in-Mission of the UMC General Board of Global Ministries for the Manila Episcopal Area, focusing on advocacy for low-wage workers. He was also a community outreach organizer for UNITE HERE Local 2 (and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California. 

Lois Parr has served congregations in the Chicago area and is an activist for justice for LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church. Lois believes that speaking the truth about systems of power, privilege, and oppression – and examining the ways in which racism harms white people – is critical to our nation’s need for race reparations. Lois is facilitator for a Justice League Network of Educators (Washtenaw County, Michigan), Albion-Marshall Resilient Communities Project (Albion, Michigan), and Allies for Change (based in Michigan); she also serves as a Chaplain in Chelsea, Michigan.

B3: Show Me Democracy: an Award-Winning Documentary Film

This workshop will make use of this documentary film, Show Me Democracy to stimulate group discussion surrounding the broader issues of racial and social injustice that is impacting the marginalized in America: people of color, immigrants, members of the LBBTQ+ community, etc.  This powerful film will leave the audience with questions and ideally a new perspective on what each of us can do to demand positive change in America through both policy and protest.  There will be a panel discussion following the film with representation from the various groups represented in the film, DACA, LGBTQ, African-American, Law Enforcement

Maurice Parisien is an accomplished entrepreneur and marketing strategist with over 40 years of success in multiple industries including healthcare, technology, retail, financial services, consumer packaged goods and marketing services industries.  He is a board member of Bridge Bread Bakery that provides job skills training and a living wage for homeless men and women, allowing its workers to earn an income that moves them off the streets and into permanent housing.  His ultimate passion is Sneakers with Soul, a ministry that he launched at his local church in 2010.  In October 2017, Maurice established Sneakers with Soul, as a standalone, non-profit 501(c)(3) that provides new high-quality brand-name sneakers for children and youth in need. 

B4: Why We Should Be in Solidarity with Palestinian Christians

For the past decade the indigenous church in Palestine has been asking Christians around the world to stand in solidarity with them in their suffering and in their nonviolent movement for basic human rights. Giselle will share what she has seen personally and how she came to be supportive of their efforts, and John will share how United Methodists have tried to make a difference. There will be time for discussion. 

Giselle Lawn is a transgender woman and former RMN board member.  She has applied to be a UMC international missionary and has lived and served the last six months in Palestine for the World Council of Churches in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program for Palestine and Israel.

 

Rev. John Wagner is Co-Chair of United Methodists for Kairos Response.

B5: Intercultural Development and Hofstede’s Dimensions

Have you found yourself in a group and realized that everyone has different values and ideas?  Different ways of being in the world?  Wondered, “How can I hold this difference together?”  This workshop reviews the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) and Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions theory.  The IDC is a way of discussing how we hold differences among us or how we judge differences.  It also gives us a developmental task if we chose to accept it.  Hofstede’s theory relates to understanding cultural norms of worldwide cultures and what we need to consider when we work across borders so that we do not trample another culture’s values unknowingly.  The IDC and Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions are cross-cultural, research-validated tools. 

The Rev. Terri Stewart is the Director of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, a program of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.  They are an elder from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference who focuses on working with incarcerated youth and how community members can be carriers of hope for the hopeless. 

Progressive Movements in the UMC

E1: Organizing a United Methodist LGBTQ Caucus

The UM Queer Clergy Caucus is hosting a workshop that will lay the groundwork for envisioning and organizing a connection-wide caucus of LGBTQ United Methodists. As we prepare for the called General Conference in 2019, it is important to have the unique voice and witness of LGBTQIA+ United Methodists who are often talked about but never included in the conversation. This workshop seeks to provide space to learn a brief history of queer organizing in the UMC, envision what this new caucus would look like, adopt its mission and vision, and form an organizing team to lead the effort to give birth to this caucus which will include both laity and clergy in the UMC who identify as LGBTQIA+. It is open exclusively to LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Israel I. Alvaran is an ordained Elder in the Philippines Annual Conference of the UMC who has served as pastor, youth minister and university and seminary faculty in the Philippines. He is currently under appointment to serve as an organizer with Reconciling Ministries Network. A long-time activist, Israel worked as Person-in-Mission of the UMC General Board of Global Ministries for the Manila Episcopal Area, focusing on advocacy for low-wage workers. He was also a community outreach organizer for UNITE HERE Local 2 (and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California.

Lois Parr has served congregations in the Chicago area and is an activist for justice for LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church. Lois believes that speaking the truth about systems of power, privilege, and oppression – and examining the ways in which racism harms white people – is critical to our nation’s need for race reparations. Lois is facilitator for a Justice League Network of Educators (Washtenaw County, Michigan), Albion-Marshall Resilient Communities Project (Albion, Michigan), and Allies for Change (based in Michigan); she also serves as a Chaplain in Chelsea, Michigan.

 

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, a queer, cisgender male and an immigrant of color, has been a person of the “in between space” since his birth and childhood in Brazil. After living in Japan for nearly two years, he moved to San Francisco, California where he served as a lay leader in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. He transferred his membership to the New York AC during his studies at Yale Divinity School. He is currently the Senior Pastor of the New Milford UMC in Connecticut and a devoted social justice advocate.

E2: How the Love Your Neighbor Coalition Works Together for Justice in the UMC

This workshop will provide a panel of representatives of different groups participating in the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC).  They will reflect and share on what LYNC is doing and how this coalition work is beneficial to their organization and project where this coalition may be going in the future.

More info coming soon.

E3: 
The Long March Toward Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors: Are We There Yet?

Through its 240+ year history, the United Methodist Church has journeyed far, but has always committed to, yet struggled with, social justice and faith. This workshop will review the long arc of history that has led us to the present time, highlighting key events along the way. The content provides an excellent review for long-time Justice seekers, but is also an introduction to those who are just starting. The presentation materials will also be made available for use in local conferences.

Dr. Mittie Quinn is a lifelong United Methodist and a member of Dumbarton UMC, one of the first churches to join the Reconciling Churches program in 1981. She is a past chair of the Baltimore Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists (BWARM).  Mittie is recently retired from her position as a school psychologist and adjunct faculty member at George Mason University. She and her husband, Jim, are avid travelers when they are not at home in Northern Virginia. 

E4: Remembering and Reflecting on our Roots

Hear stories and reflections from early leaders of LGBTQ advocacy movements in the UMC.  Rick Huskey, Keith Spare and Steve Webster participated in the organizing meeting of Affirmation (then the Gay UM Caucus) in 1975.  Kathryn Mitchem and Beth A. Richardson became involved shortly thereafter.  Their stories will illustrate how the social and church situations were quite different four decades ago, yet their experiences can inform our movement today.   This is a unique opportunity to engage in dialogue with a few of our pioneers.

Mark Bowman (facilitator) participated in Affirmation’s work at the 1980 General Conference and was one of the early leaders of the Reconciling movement that was launched in 1983-84.  He served as the executive director of Reconciling Congregation Program until 1999 and continues in a consulting role assisting with convocation and event planning.

E5: Walking with the Wounded: Hope Floats*

As lies about LGBTQ people are told—lies that limit welcome within the UMC—we are challenged again. Can we stay in this abusive denominational relationship or must we find a new trust in a new path? For many, either choice is experienced as a tug by the Spirit, a calling, toward authentic witness.  In this workshop with a possibility that the UMC can be a community of inclusion, we shall cast for a new vision of following Jesus as Reconciling people. We shall confront our failed attempts and we shall strive to keep an integrity within our hope.   No worries—we have scripture, tradition, experience, and reason to buoy our attempts. We know sacramental connection and grace.

The Rev. Sue Laurie has been present in the struggle for love and full inclusion for LGBTQ people within the United Methodist Church for over twenty years, working as witness with various programs of the Reconciling Ministries Network. She received her M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1995 but was denied ordination because of Book of Discipline rules. She continued to offer ministry however, serving with RMN as National Outreach Coordinator. At the 2016 UMC General Conference she received her “grassroots ordination” with the support of Love Prevails. In 2017, she received the Bishop Talbert Reconciling Ministries Award. Sue is married to Julie Bruno, her spouse of 35 years.

E6: Revive: Exploring Self-Care Strategies and Accessibility

This workshop will explore the intersection of self care/soul care and accessibility. In this day and time we are at within the world and the church it is essential we take care of one another. This workshop will provide participants with strategies for self care and how to improve accessibility within your circles and congregations.

Allyssa Green, MA is a consultant and special education teacher where she creates supports individuals with disabilities and helps congregations become inclusive and accessible. She has served on the former United Methodist committee on disability and as a leader with a number of United Methodist Women events including mission U and National Seminar.

Support for Trans and Gender Non-conforming People

C1: Radical Hospitality for Transgender and Gender Creative Children and Youth

Lorena Cory tells the moving story of the “radical hospitality” she experienced at her church as she navigated the journey from the first communication by her preschool-age child that he was confused as to why God had given him a boy’s body, to her first encounter with another parent of a gender creative child  several years later at a PRN workshop for parents of LGBTQ children,  to the development of a vision to create a safe meeting space where her child and other children like hers could meet, make friends, and learn that they are not “the only kid in the world like this” as her own daughter had feared was true.   Since Pinwheels began its monthly gatherings five years ago, Lorena has discovered that a support group for transgender and gender creative children also provides parents a chance to share resources and support.   

Lorena Cory is a member of First UMC in Arlington Heights, IL, and the founder of Pinwheels, a support group for families with gender creative children. Lorena started Pinwheels in March 2011 out of her family’s needs. Pinwheels has grown to include children 4 – 18 years of age, with two more sites, including one site here in St. Louis.  Pinwheels has become an oasis for over 100 families.

C2: Providing Safety and Support for Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Persons and Their Families, Friends and Allies

Based on the experiences of TransDecatur in Decatur, GA and Trans Spectrum of Arizona in Phoenix, this workshop will discuss the experiences, challenges and successes of two support groups that are based in and supported by a United Methodist Church and a United Church of Christ, respectively.  The leader of the workshop co-founded TransDecatur, which meets twice a month since May 2017.

Quinn Hudson is the parent of Wallace, a 25-year-old transgender man who works for the Phoenix Central School District. Quinn has been a member of Decatur First UMC for more than 30 years.

General Conference 2019

F1: Conversation with Commission on Way Forward Members

Four members of the Commission on the Way Forward—Brian Adkins, Matt Berryman, Scott Johnson and Dave Nuckols—will share insights and reflections on their two-year journey with this United Methodist body that was charged with preparing recommendations for General Conference 2019.  The session will also include ample time for questions from and dialogue with you and other participants.

Dr. Randall Miller (facilitator) is a layperson from the California-Nevada Annual Conference and the Principal of Oaktown Consulting. A long-time activist for full inclusion, Randall has served as a national spokesperson for Affirmation and on the RMN. He has also served as the Chair of the Commission on the General Conference, First Lay Alternate to the UM Judicial Council, and Vice-President of the General Board of Church and Society.

F2: Allyship in Times Such as These

Being an ally is not simple. Nor is it insignificant. Every movement needs allies, and when allies use their power responsibly, they can be a powerful force for justice. But, as many LGBTQ people can attest, there are far too many unreliable, problematic, or even harmful allies in our movement. As the UMC prepares for the 2019 General Conference, allies will be crucial, and the actions of allies will affect the lives of LGBTQ lay people and clergy in the UMC. This session will define allyship, offer a set of principles for allies, and provide concrete do’s and don’t’s for allies. Participants will also have a chance to hear from lay and ordained LGBTQ Methodists about what they need from allies. Participants will engage in group and paired discussions, interactive activities, and individual reflections.

Drew Kronow serves as the Director of Communications and LGBTQ Programs at the Religious Institute. A graduate of SMU and Yale Divinity School, he is also a scholar of American religious history with an emphasis on sexuality, social activism, and popular culture.

F3: Building Bridges: LYNC’s International Hospitality Team

Strengthening relationships across the global connection to achieve long-term social change and effective witness is the mission of Love Your Neighbor Coalition’s international hospitality team. This workshop introduces participants to the work of this team, will lift up ideas and approaches to relational organizing, and share stories of meaningful and successful ministries borne out of strong relationships across culture and language within the United Methodist connection.

Richard Bentley is one of the co-chairs for the International Hospitality Team of LYNC, which is working towards long-term changes in the relationships between progressive United Methodists in the U.S. and progressive United Methodists around the world. He has extensive cross-cultural experience, having  served as lead pastor of three different churches that worshiped in two languages as well as an associate pastor in an Black congregation and lead pastor in a Filipino congregation. He has traveled to both Africa and the Philippines, meeting United Methodists and building long-term relationships.

 

Dennis Akpona is an LGBTQ activist from Nigeria. While in Nigeria Dennis worked in the nonprofit sector for many organizations including Journalists Against AIDS, Initiative for Equal Rights and Population Council. Since fleeing to the United States, Dennis has not stopped working for, and on behalf of, LGBT individuals. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University at Buffalo in Social Work. Dennis works for RMN as the African Central Conferences coordinator with the primary responsibility of building a relationship between United Methodist Clergies and the LGBTQ communities in West Africa.

F4: Love Your Neighbor Coalition’s Listening Posts

LYNC’s international hospitality team is hosting listening posts in Portland (August 2018) and in parts of Africa and the Philippines in 2019. These are designed to allow United Methodists to bridge differences in culture and language, learn from each other, and strengthen our witness for social justice together. Come and learn how you can be part of these events.

Richard Bentley is one of the co-chairs for the International Hospitality Team of LYNC, which is working towards long-term changes in the relationships between progressive United Methodists in the U.S. and progressive United Methodists around the world. He has extensive cross-cultural experience, having  served as lead pastor of three different churches that worshiped in two languages as well as an associate pastor in an Black congregation and lead pastor in a Filipino congregation. He has traveled to both Africa and the Philippines, meeting United Methodists and building long-term relationships.

Dennis Akpona is an LGBTQ activist from Nigeria. While in Nigeria Dennis worked in the nonprofit sector for many organizations including Journalists Against AIDS, Initiative for Equal Rights and Population Council. Since fleeing to the United States, Dennis has not stopped working for, and on behalf of, LGBT individuals. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University at Buffalo in Social Work. Dennis works for RMN as the African Central Conferences coordinator with the primary responsibility of building a relationship between United Methodist Clergies and the LGBTQ communities in West Africa.

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