summer retreat

Join us at the WeConnect Retreat!

We all have many different aspects of our identities and sometimes these aspects seem to be in conflict with each other. I’m Christian. I’m engaged to a Jewish woman. I am a graduate student studying theology. I’m a lesbian. I identify as a female and genderqueer. I am a lot of different things and reconciling all of the parts of my identity can be a challenge.

Sometimes it is other people who tell us that we have to pick between parts of our identity. Maybe someone told you had to be a Christian or a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You weren’t allowed to be both. Even if someone didn’t say it to your face, maybe it was in the larger culture around you or was the expectation you held for yourself. And this is just one of many examples of how we struggle as people and as part of the LGBTQ+ community to reconcile our identities.

We hear a lot in the Christian world about being reconciled to other people and to God. We hear about mending those relationships with others that have been wounded and about being “right with God”. But, do we ever think about being reconciled with ourselves? We are multifaceted people; we have many parts to our identities. We all have stories and each story has several chapters, with some chapters being drastically different from each other. Yet, all of these stories, all of these chapters, all of these parts of our identities make up who we are. When we don’t appreciate the diversity that is present in each of our individual identities, it can feel like we are at war with ourselves, always having to choose who to be that day because we do not let ourselves be all of the beautiful things that we truly are. We can also feel like we are waging war with ourselves when we completely shut out chapters of our lives. I, for one, have some dark chapters in my story. I would honestly rather ignore those parts of my story and act like they haven’t impacted me. In reality, though, they have impacted me greatly. Part of reconciling my identity is reconciling with my past. It is reclaiming all the parts of my story and figuring out who I am and who I am going to be in light of all of the pages.

In this summer’s WEConnect Retreat, Emily Burke and Shae Washington will facilitate a time for you to explore reconciling your identity. By providing you with a space where you can safely explore the chapters of your story and the facets of your identity, we hope that you can find greater peace within yourself. We hope you can leave the WEConnect retreat feeling proud of the diversity that is present with in you. We hope that you can proudly claim who you are, every single part.

And if you would like to explore more about these ideas of reconciliation and diversity in identity before the retreat, check out this TedTalk.

Join us at the Clergy Retreat!

The church is engulfed in what seems like endless chaos these days, have you noticed? With every scandal and denominational schism, every mind-numbing Pat Robertson sound bite and every post from PasterSneakers IG account, association with faith, religion and spirituality is under warranted scrutiny. Church leaders are under increased pressure to not just lead their congregations, but embody an obligation of being above reproach in the eyes of a watching world that has shifting expectations. If you’ve been in “professional ministry” any length of time, you’re likely experiencing the present disruption in a variety of ways. Perhaps you’re energized by what feels like an awakening of the burgeoning potential of the Body of Christ. Or maybe you’re more cynical and finding it difficult to find any signs of light at the end of an increasingly dim tunnel. Likely you’ve had moments of questioning your own complicity in what is rapidly being revealed to be a largely toxic system that spans the globe and has permeated every industry on the planet.

Since October 2017 we’ve been interfacing with hundreds of church leaders from around the world, in response to co-founding Church Clarity. It’s been an eye opening 18 months as demands for clarity throughout the church have caused a bit of a stir. The response from pastors and clergy, when it comes to the work we’re championing, has raised some fascinating questions and sparked illuminating discussions about the state of the church, the future of the church and the nature of ministry in general. We’re excited to co-lead a session for clergy at this summer’s retreat hosted by QCF. Together, we’ll explore some of the most urgent issues facing christianity and what Clarity looks like personally, organizationally, and institutionally. We believe that all healthy individuals and organizations must begin from a place of clarity — by looking at oneself in the mirror and being honest about what you see.

We don’t have all the answers in terms of what you can expect, simply because the implications of clarity and its impact on the future of the church is wide open. What we know is that technology is accelerating the exposure of harmful ambiguity throughout the church. Clarity is empowering pastors who are not afraid to express their convictions in ways that were previously unavailable. We want to explore this further by sharing some of what we’ve learned as well as hear directly from those of you who are currently on the frontlines of this ever shifting landscape.

We want to spend the majority of our time together exploring themes of how you as a church leader can utilize the tool of clarity to help shape the future of the church.

Whoever you are and whichever church you are connected to, we hope you’ll join us this Summer in Florida. See you there!

George Mekhail & Sarah Ngu
Co-Founders of Church Clarity

Join us at the Side B Retreat!

We are delighted to be hosting the Side B mini-retreat at the first QCF Summer Retreat! We’ve been working together with the QCF leadership over the past year, helping the QCF community stay open to folks who hold to the more traditional or historic Christian sexual ethics. We loved meeting so many of you at the Conference in January, but didn’t get nearly enough time to just hang out and chat, let alone have the deep discussions we really love. We’re thrilled to have this extra opportunity to do just that.

We’ll have two and a half hours set aside on one day of the retreat to spend just with the Side B members of the QCF family. We welcome both those who are firmly committed to the traditional sexual ethic, those who are still exploring, those who are uncertain, those who have been around the QCF community for years, as well as those who are relative newcomers. We welcome LGBTQ+ folks of all stripes as well as straight and/or cis parents, spouses, pastors and other allies who hold our common ethical stance.

What is that ethical stance, specifically? We believe that genital sexual activity should be reserved for male-female marriage, according to our views of the Scriptures, to our traditions, and to our understanding of church history. While we realize that none of these three sources are unproblematic or indisputable, either our current understanding of Scripture, or our commitment to our tradition or faith community, or both, call us to believe in and practice celibacy for the unmarried, and marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. We recognize that Christians of good will and serious views of Scripture can differ with this position, and we respect the journeys of others.

That said, there are a wide variety of beliefs on other issues within the Side B community. Depending on our faith communities and Scriptural interpretations, we have varied convictions on issues such as divorce and remarriage, mixed-orientation marriages, celibate partnerships, medical transitioning for trans folk, gender roles in the family and the church, and even many other disputable matters not related to sexuality and gender, such as the nature of the Lord’s Supper/Communion/the Eucharist. So, when we come together, we try to come with open hearts and listening spirits, to learn from and love one another across differences.

What can you expect when you come to the retreat-within-a-retreat? We’ll probably be a fairly small group, so a lot of our time will be informal. There will be time for newcomers to ask basic questions about Side B, and for long-timers to dive deep into ongoing discussions. We’ll probably do some creative brainstorming and play with art, especially around finding better language than “Side B” to describe our commitments. We’ll have time to meet, greet and eat with new and old friends. We may even sneak out to the beach for a bit, weather and time permitting. Most of all, we’re going to enjoy one another’s company, knowing that we are family in Christ, and that we share common convictions and commitments. We look forward to spending this time with you!

Join us at the Q+ Families Retreat!

“See, I told you I have two daddies!!” The panic set in a few years ago after hearing my then 4-year old daughter exclaim this to her preschool classmate. It was a rare day where my partner and I both went to pick her up at the end of the day. I didn’t know what would happen next. Was she already fielding questions from her friends, as a preschooler, about my sexuality? I wasn’t quite ready for this. And even less sure about how to handle it.

My anxiety subsided as her classmate responded a few seconds later, “So what, I have one hundred mommies!” This wasn’t a deep conversation about sexuality, this was two young kids competing with each other - they wanted to be more unique, not less, what a refreshing thought.  

It was strikingly clear - my daughter lived in a different world than I did, forcing me to reassess what I was projecting onto her classmates (and what they were hearing from their parents) in this lily-white suburban setting easy to associate with intolerant evangelicalism. However true that assessment may have been for me, it wasn’t true for her. This gives us cause to celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ movement has come in both our communities and churches but also leaves LGBTQ+ parents of children with unique questions and opportunities for learning. We all build our families in different ways - previous mixed orientation relationships, adoption, IVF, surrogacy and more but, however your family came together, we share the bond of being LGBTQ+ people trying to model a life of faith to kids within a broader context that may not always be at the same place we are in recognizing the full scope of God’s beloved community.

During this session at the Q Christian Summer Retreat, my fellow co-Executive Director Bukola Landis-Aina and I will lead discussion on some of the topics facing our unique part of the Q Christian community in a relaxed and informal setting where we can all learn from each other. Some questions to think about include:

  • How do same-gender parents split-up parenting responsibilities with duties historically tied to gender roles?

  • Based on the situation, when is the right time to address sensitive topics like divorce, adoption, coming out, bio donors, etc.

  • What do we teach our children about gender roles and sexual ethics appropriate to different age levels?

  • Are there good questions to ask in finding a church community that will fully celebrate my family?

  • How do you navigate situations where parents share significantly different theological beliefs?

As part of the Q Christian executive leadership team, Bukola and I also hope to illicit your feedback and advice about how Q Christian can best resource and support this growing demographic within our community - one we both are proudly part of!

Most importantly, we hope you’ll leave the inaugural Q Christian Summer Retreat with the knowledge that you aren’t alone in this unique journey - one full of laughter, tears, joys and frustrations - emotions we can face together, in love, as a community of God.

Join us at the PoC Retreat!

Hello from David and Darren, your retreat facilitators! It is an absolute honor to be leading the People of Color retreat at Q Christian’s 2019 Summer Retreat, a place to disconnect from everyday life and find community with other LGBTQ Christians and allies. As the days draw near to us gathering in Fort Lauderdale, we want to give you a sense of what to expect in your time with us.

Why attend the POC retreat? This is meant to be a time to exhale. We want to establish a protective space that's for us and by us where we are free to express our experiences and hopes as an underrepresented group within the queer minority.

Churches and other organizations aim to create diverse LGBTQ spaces where those of us who identify as POC are represented and welcome, but often those spaces are still white-centric and can feel alienating. Whether that’s through the music, topics or speakers, simply having an event open to POC can be shortsighted and feel inauthentic. What does it look like for our whole-selves to belong and be celebrated?

As we discussed the ideas for this retreat, we talked about our unique experiences of being both a person of color and gay.  Growing up, Darren felt like he had to choose between being gay and being black when it comes to what spaces he could find to socialize. David has had the experience that many of us have had where, because he’s Hispanic, expectations of his intellectual abilities are set low and people are surprised when he is ‘articulate.’ In conversations with others we’ve found that many people share these experiences and have felt like they were the only ones. For us, it makes a gathering like this a special time to heal and be restored.

What will happen at the POC Retreat? Together, we want to create a space where we talk about our lives, dream about our futures, and build each other up with encouragement and new connections. You can also expect time to quietly reflect and calm your mind with guided meditation.  We want you to bring your whole self and leave empowered in all of who you are.

So don’t hold back, come along with us. We look forward to being with you!