Breakout C:

Saturday, January 12th 1:00PM - 2:30PM

QCF_Workshop_McDonald (1).jpg

Embracing Your Journey

Session leaders: Greg & Lynn McDonald

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: Are you a Christian parent of an LGBTQ child? Do you feel overwhelmed with this chapter in your life that you didn’t sign up for? When your child came out of the closet did you find yourself “going in the closet”? Are you a LGBTQ child and want to better understand your parents? In this interactive session Greg and Lynn will facilitate discussion designed to help parents embrace their journey of having an LGBTQ child and examine 1). The value in getting out of the closet 2). The Importance of how to identify safe people in your life 3). God’s formula for healing. You will be challenged, encouraged and inspired as they provide biblical tools to help set yourself free and to better love your LGBTQ child.

Biography: Greg and Lynn McDonald are parents, best friends, and co-founders of Embracing the Journey Inc. as an outgrowth of their family’s personal journey associated with having a gay child. They are bridge builders passionate about bringing parents, their LGBTQ children and the church together even when they seem at odds with each other. Armed with 17 years of practical experience, Greg and Lynn have personally walked with, coached and counseled hundreds of Christian parents from around the country who have LGBTQ children. Greg has enjoyed a career that spans 30+ years as an industry leader in the private sector. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Orphan Helpers and has served on numerous fortune 500 and nonprofit advisory boards and committees. When their now-adult children were young, Lynn was a full-time homemaker. Additionally, she has served as a volunteer crisis pregnancy counselor, mentor and on Young Life committees in Michigan and Central America. Today Greg and Lynn pursue their passion of helping LGBTQ families become reconciled with each other and move one step closer to Jesus. They are the proud parents of Greg Jr. and Connie, dad and mom-in-law to Matt, and happy grandparents of three grandchildren.

Books: “Embracing the Journey: A Christian Parents’ Blueprint to Loving Your LGBTQ Child”, Simon and Schuster, March 5, 2019 (Available for pre-order)

Oriented to Love: Loving Dialogue Across Deep Difference

Session leader: Kristyn Komarnicki

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: We want to connect with those on the other side of the [theological, sexual/gender, political, etc] aisle, but we have no idea how or where to start. How can we truly communicate with those we disagree with—without defensiveness, name-calling, and real harm? Is unity in the Body of Christ even possible? What are some spiritual practices that can help prepare us for difficult conversations across deep theological lines? What postures and kinds of questions are most helpful? What are the rewards of risking vulnerability? This dialogue fishbowl will demonstrate how diverse siblings in Christ truly can love each other across deep difference.

Biography: Kristyn Komarnicki is director of dialogue and convening at Evangelicals for Social Action/Sider Center. The creator of ESA’s Oriented to Love dialogues about sexual/gender diversity in the church, Kristyn facilitates these 2.5-day, intimate retreats that help Christians of different sexual/gender orientations and theological convictions come together to get to know, understand, and love each other, unified by the love of Christ. A xenophile who loves to travel and swap stories with people from around the world, Kristyn has studied, lived and worked in four countries on three continents (Europe, Asia, and North America). Today she lives in Philadelphia with her husband of 29 years and the youngest of their three sons.

Books: Why Can't We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart, by John Backman (


A Jesus Freak and an Atheist Walk Into A Gay Bar

Session leaders:

Heidi Weaver-Smith, Melissa Meyer, & Andy Buechel

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: Ohio partners in crime, LOVEboldly (a reconciliation initiative between the Church and the LGBTQ+ community) and Safe and Supported (an LGBTQ youth homelessness prevention initiative) will share the story of their treasonous friendship. Together they work to disrupt the status quo by healing divides and creating acceptance for LGBTQ youth in their families and faith communities. These two organizations are traversing tricky territory and experiencing joy, success, disappointment and sometimes awkward personal growth. Learn from their journey and discover how to build your own treasonous friendships.

Biographies: Heidi Weaver-Smith is the founder/president of LOVEboldly and has been hosting dialogues with traditionally-minded Christians and the LGBTQ+ community since 2008. Through her leadership of LOVEboldly, Heidi empowers LGBTQ+ and straight Christians to step towards loving one another boldly and equips Christians to engage with dignity and civility in the polarizing conversations surrounding faith and sexuality. Heidi has completed some seminary coursework at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Melissa Meyer: As a nurse, trainer and organizational leader, Melissa has helped communities tackle complex issues like LGBTQ inclusion, comprehensive sexuality education and intimate partner violence prevention through collaboration and partnerships. She’s worked with youth and youth-serving professionals in juvenile justice, drug treatment, mental health care, schools, disability services and health care for over 25 years. Now she shares her talents with Safe and Supported, a project of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, focused on developing and implementing innovative strategies to prevent and end LGBTQ youth homelessness in Hamilton County by 2020.

Andy Buechel: After completing his doctorate in Theological Studies from Emory University, Andy was an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton and Xavier University. His area of research was the LGBTQ experience and what insights it could bring to Christian theology. Since then, Andy has joined Safe and Supported, a program of Lighthouse Youth and Family services in Cincinnati, to work to end LGBTQ youth homelessness and family rejection.


Finding Our Way: Centered Set Sexual Ethics

Session leader: Wendy VanderWal-Gritter

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: Dissatisfied with both the heteronormative boundaries you grew up with in church and the "try anything" mindset? Wish you could find a way to both escape debilitating messages of shame and still steward your sexuality consistently with your faith? Centered set sexual ethics will help you clarify your values and develop life-giving practices to make discerning decisions that help you flourish.

Biography: Dr. Wendy VanderWal Gritter has served as Executive Director of Generous Space since 2002. She attended her first QCF conference in 2007 and now serves as a QCF board member. Wendy is deeply committed to the vision of shalom and flourishing at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality.

Books: Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church, Wendy VanderWal Gritter, Brazos 2014


Queer Sexual Ethics and Deep Theology

Session leaders: Joshua Stokes and Yvonne Zimmerman

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: Conversations around sexual ethics in Christian contexts have historically been difficult. Oftentimes, these conversations can be exclusive, impractical, and even harmful. In this breakout session Dr. Yvonne Zimmerman, Professor of Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, will lead a lecture and subsequent discussion about how Queer Sexual Ethics provides a framework for discussing sexual ethics in a healthy way that incorporates the diversity of humankind. Joshua Stokes, graduate student and licensed Counselor Trainee who has worked with LGBTQ+ Christian clients that have experienced spiritual harm, will facilitate a lecture and discussion about how to wrestle with sexual ethics in a healthy way that engages the deeper theological concepts that are often overlooked.


Joshua Stokes is a graduate student at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in the final year of a mental health counseling program. At MTSO, Stokes is the student leader of “Love is for Everyone,” the seminary’s LGBTQ+ student organization, and serves on MTSO’s board of trustees. Stokes is a licensed Counselor Trainee in the state of Ohio and is currently providing mental health care primarily to persons who are LGBTQ+. Through his additional theological training, Stokes has been able to work with numerous clients who are working to overcome mental health issues stemming from spiritual harm and rejection from Christian communities. Stokes has received his BA is Psychology from Ohio State University. At OSU, he served as president of a large LGBTQ+ affirming campus ministry and as one of three Spiritual Representatives on the LGBTQ+ Leadership Consortium at the OSU Multicultural Center.

Yvonne Zimmerman is Associate Academic Dean and Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) where she teaches courses on Christian social ethics. Zimmerman has taught workshops and seminars about LGBTQI sexual ethics for local churches, colleges and universities, and church-based non-profit organizations. Zimmerman’s primary area of research is the movement to end human trafficking and she focuses on developing ethical resources for progressive Christian responses to human trafficking. She is the author of Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking (Oxford University Press, 2012). Zimmerman holds a BA in Bible and Religion from Goshen College, a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver.


Interlocked: Why We Can't and Shouldn't Escape This Thing Called Intersectionality

Session leaders: AnaYelsi R. Velasco-Sanchez

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: For us to truly be undivided in our pursuit of justice we must function within in a framework that is sustainable and liberative for ALL and this requires widening the lens through which we look at LGBTQ issues. Participants in this breakout will be encouraged to evaluate themselves and the spaces they occupy for their level of accessibility to everyone living on the margins- asking the question, “Does the way we work towards justice achieve our goals at the expense of others and why does this even matter?” Participants should leave with a greater understanding of the need for a holistic anti-oppression work, the theory of intersectionality, and a praxis for applying what they have learned.

Biography: Born in Venezuela, AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez is an IndoLatinx mujerista working to create and agitate her way through the Latin diaspora. Having worked as a faith-based community organizer for a decade, AnaYelsi is now a consultant, educator, writer, and visual artist. She provides education and consultation in both sacred and secular spaces - helping people to pursue justice in an intersectional and holistic way. Her column, Brown Eyed Amazon, can be found at Patheos’ Progressive Christian channel and she is the co-host for the upcoming Mystic Soul podcast with Teresa P. Mateus.

She loves disappearing for hours in an art museum, feeding people a homemade flan of which she is unabashedly proud, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching an absurd number of problematic made-for-tv holiday romcoms.

AnaYelsi lives in Washington, D.C. You can follow her on twitter at @brwneyedamzn.

QCF_Workshop_Archuleta (1).jpg

Making Relationships Work

Session leaders: ISAAC ARCHULETA

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: Relationships are hard. Whether it be a familial, platonic, or romantic relationship, you'll need skills to make sure you can keep your most cherished relationships in healthy, working order. This breakout is designed to show you what creates healthy attachments, how they fall apart, and how you can repair them. Do you ever wonder how to make relationships work? If so, this breakout is for you.

Biography: Isaac’s work focuses precisely on our relational repair – whether that be establishing wholeness with one's self, another, or God. Isaac has a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He is invited to speak at conferences, churches, and forums across the nation, contributes to The Huffington Post, and hosts weekend seminars for couples, individuals, and religious parents of children in the LGBTQ+ community. Isaac has been featured in several news articles across the country, as well as on numerous podcasts and National Public Radio (NPR). Isaac serves as a Co-Executive Director of Spiritual and Relational Formation at Q Christian Fellowship. Isaac’s pronouns are he/they.

QCF_Workshop_CortezRobertson (1).jpg

A Space to Process - For First Time Parents, Pastors and Family Members Who Have Questions

Session leaders:

Danny & Abby Cortez and linda & rob robertson

Time: Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:30PM


Session Description: This is a session for first-time parents, pastors and family members who have been invited to QCF and are considering a more affirming theology for the first time but have questions, concerns and doubts. Our goal is to provide a forum for discussion and processing...with the intention of creating a safe space to wrestle, to express fears and even to grieve as you begin this often difficult journey. Since both the Cortez family and the Robertsons struggled, each in their own way, to reconcile our love for our children with our commitment to Christ, we know how important it is to be able to process fully with others who won't try to pressure you into thinking exactly like they do. If you've come to QCF but are struggling to make sense of it all, please come join us. We've been there and would love to listen. 

This is not intended to be a session for those in the LGBTQ+ community, only because we realize that some things that may be said could cause further undue pain. 

Biographies: In 2001, Rob and Linda Robertson's life changed forever when their 12-year-old son came out to them. Parents of 4 children, they were deeply committed to their relationships with Christ and were extremely involved in their evangelical church. After making some disastrous mistakes as they parented their gay son, Linda wrote about their regrets in a short piece entitled Just Because He Breathes in the Spring of 2013. They were invited to be keynote speakers at Exodus International's 2013 Conference in Irvine, the Gay Christian Network's 2014 Conference in Chicago and The Reformation Project's 2015 Conference in Atlanta. Their story is also featured in an upcoming documentary, For They Know Not What They Do. They love living in the Seattle area, where they jump at every chance to work for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church and to walk alongside others in the journey - trusting that God can use their mistakes to help others. 

Abby and Danny Cortez have been married for 26 years and have 4 children. In 2013, their third son came out as gay which propelled the Southern Baptist church Danny was pastoring in to engage in conversations around inclusion. The church eventually transformed into a community that became inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. Danny recently founded and is the director of the non profit, Estuary Space. Abby is a registered nurse who works as a Clinical Documentation Specialist. They are both active with Q Christian Fellowship and NQAPIA. Danny is also involved in leadership with the Union of Affirming Christians and PFLAG and is a board member of Q Christian Fellowship.