Last weekend, I attended the Gay Christian Network (GCN) conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Since it was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I traveled there as a representative of LOVEboldly and to co-teach a Breakout session on Christian Civility. I have to be honest. I was anxious about leading a workshop, especially on a topic that hits ‘close to home.’ Since officially coming out a few months ago, I have had to navigate difficult conversations with those who do not even think I can be a Christian. So, everything taught in the workshop was definitely something that I have had to practice in my own life.
My colleague, Heidi, and I expected only 15 to 25 people to show up because there were many other sessions from which the attendees could choose. Before our time to present, we placed handouts on 30 of the chairs, thinking that we had way too many. Boy, we were wrong! Let’s just say that I stopped counting at 95 people, and there were many others sitting on the floor or standing. The entire session went way better than we had both expected. People came up to us afterwards to let us know that they had been touched by what was presented. Later during the weekend, one man stopped us to let us know that God had dealt with him about his relationship with his parents who do not love his partner. He now realized that he is still called to love them, even if they never change. This and other stories told to us blew my mind! What people do not know is that this was the first time we had presented that teaching, and it was also the first time Heidi and I had taught together. We just prayed that God would use us, and it is obvious that the Holy Spirit was using our words to touch hearts. I am humbled that God would use us in this way.
A highlight from last weekend included interviewing Jennifer Knapp for the LOVEboldly blog. If you were a part of the Christian subculture in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, then you definitely know who I’m talking about. She is hilarious, and I will post the interview here on this blog as well LOVEboldly’s blog when we upload it sometime in the future.
Although I enjoyed the conference and meeting new people, the highlight of my weekend was reconnecting with a former student whom I had taught in middle school. The last time I had seen her was in 2008. It proved to be a sweet time of fellowship as we spent time together catching up on our lives. I will confess that I was kind of freaked out when she picked me up in her own car and drove me around Phoenix. Seriously, it took me a few minutes to get over the fact that she is no longer a child. After spending time with her, I can honestly say that I am deeply proud of the woman she has become!
So, my time in Phoenix was life-giving, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to go as a representative of LOVEboldly. If you ever get the chance to go to the GCN conference, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
- Enroute to GCN 2013 (loveboldly.net)
- GCN 2013: Opening Night (loveboldly.net)
- ‘Torn’: Living As An Openly Gay Christian (npr.org)