Nashville conference to support gays in the pews

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Does God love and accept His gay children? Is it possible to be gay and religious? Where do struggling parents, friends and family go to understand and accept a gay family member? These questions are at the heart of the Our Family Matters conference held Wednesday, Oct. 22 through Saturday, Oct. 25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

Win free admission

If you’d like a chance to win free admission to the event, O&AN has your tickets. Send us your personal stories of sexuality and spirituality and you could be selected to receive complimentary registration to the conference.

To share your story, simply scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “be the first to comment on this article.” If you are not yet registered to post comments on our site, you’ll need to sign up first.

If you have won free admission, you will be contacted at least one week prior to the event. Good luck and we look forward to reading your stories.

Launched as a live version of Kim Clark’s documentary, God and Gays: Bridging the Gap, the four-day conference offers a contemporary Christian perspective on being gay and Christian. The schedule includes a film festival, live concerts, national keynote speakers (Dr. Jack Rogers, Rev. Deborah Johnson) and three days of workshops.

Reverend Jim Kitchens is pastor of the event’s host church, and is elated this conference is coming to his hometown.

“There are many more affirming churches in Tennessee than most initially think. Most mainstream congregations are very inclusive and welcome everyone as they are, with open arms. Especially given the recent shooting at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Knoxville, it’s important that we all stand together to give public witness to our love for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” said Kitchens.

Clark agrees that Our Family Matters comes to Tennessee at a crucial time.

“We address the support needed to heal communities of faith, and provide the education friends and family members need as they face situations that are initially difficult to reconcile: loving their gay relative while risking a lack of understanding from some churches and social circles,” she said.

Rev. Cynthia Andrews-Looper of Nashville’s Holy Trinity Community Church requested that Clark bring the event to Nashville because she identified a sincere need in the hearts of families who have simply witnessed too many unnecessary tragedies lately. “We’re reaching out to families and holding fast to Jesus Christ, and our affirming views bring reconciliation to both families and individuals. This event will certainly change, and maybe even save some lives,” said Andrews-Looper.

Mary Lou Wallner, a mother from Arkansas who lost her lesbian daughter to suicide is deeply saddened by the fact that individuals or families have wrongly thought they had to choose between their loved ones and God. There is a holy place where the Spirit embraces both completely, where Christ bridges the gap for all of us. There is no greater reconciling love than in Him.

Wallner will tell her poignant story to help other struggling parents reach out to their children.

Our Family Matters also provides a healthy alternative to harmful, so-called “ex-gay ministries,” whose false claims and demands that God’s children reject who they are have torn both families and individuals apart.

Peterson Toscano, a brave “ex-gay” survivor, attended the “Love In Action” program in Memphis. Today, Toscano is a national speaker on the dangers of so-called “ex-gay” ministries and will discuss how affirming churches helped him heal after such a traumatic experience.

“Right now, people in some churches feel they must hide the fact they are gay for fear they will be thrown out,” Toscano explained. “Many of us have tried to change, but instead of finding a blessing, the programs I attended nearly destroyed my faith and my life. Now, I have moved beyond these‘ex-gay’ experiences and have found peace, joy, and faith in being honest with myself.”

Organizers welcome all to this family event.

Win free admission

If you’d like a chance to win free admission to the event, O&AN has your tickets. Send us your personal stories of sexuality and spirituality and you could be selected to receive complimentary registration to the conference.

To share your story, simply scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “be the first to comment on this article.” If you are not yet registered to post comments on our site, you’ll need to sign up first.

Good luck and we look forward to reading your stories.

Related links

God and Gays: Bridging the Gap is a deeply personal documentary told from the perspective of people who have and continue to live in struggle around reconciling their orientation and spirituality. It is used in hundreds of colleges, churches, and community groups across the country as a communication tool to open a dialogue around the humanity closeted behind the controversy. www.godandgaysthemovie.com

Second Presbyterian Church P.C. (USA) welcomes you to join their journey of faith, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic or family status, ethnic background, mental or physical abilities. They are part of the faith and justice congregational network. www.secondpresbyterian.net

Holy Trinity Community Church, UCC provides an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth without regard to race, gender, orientation or social status. HTCC’s goal is to be a place where people develop in their understanding of God, freely place personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and continually grow in their service to God. www.HolyTrinityCommunityChurch.com

Mary Lou’s Wallner is from TEACH Ministries (To Educate About the Consequences of Homophobia). TEACH works to save lives and to prevent other parents from going through the horrific loss of losing a child just because they are gay or lesbian.
www.teach-ministries.org