Breakout A:

Friday, January 11th 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM



Coming Out as an LGBTQ Christian

session leader: Amber Cantorna

Time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: Are you in the process of coming out? Do you come from a conservative family and fear the unknown? Join us for this workshop as we discuss coming out and what it means to be an LGBTQ person of faith. Pulling from her upcoming book, “Unashamed: A Coming-Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians,” Amber will address questions like “How do I know if I’m ready to come out?” and “Who do I come out to when?” This workshop will provide tools and tips for coming out, discuss the importance of healthy boundaries, and provide practical tools for how to tend to your soul through the process. Bring your questions, fears, and hopes and join us as we navigate this journey together.

Biography: Amber Cantorna is an author, keynote speaker, and leader dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ people through their coming out process. As the daughter of a 30+ year executive at Focus on the Family, Amber knows what it is like to risk everything for the sake of authenticity. Her memoir “Refocusing My Family” tells of her own coming out journey and has encouraged people around the globe. Her upcoming book, “Unashamed: A Coming-Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians” will release in March 2019 and will be the first book of its kind to provide practical coming-out tools to people of faith. Join her QCF workshop to gain pre-released advice from her new book's contents.

Books: "Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God", Fortress Press, October 2017

"Unashamed: A Coming-Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians," Westminster John Knox Press, March 2019 (Available for pre-order)


Reading the Rainbow:

Queering Hermenuetics

SESSION LEADER: Samantha Field

time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: For LGBT+ people, reading the Bible can be a painful experience as it has so often been used as a weapon to harm us. This workshop will give participants the tools they need to incorporate their LGBT+ identities into their interpretation of Scripture and to reclaim the joy and fulfillment our sacred canon can bring to our lives. Using queer literary theory and queer hermeneutics, participants will have the opportunity to develop their own queer interpretations of Scripture.

Biography: Samantha Field is a queer woman who grew up in an authoritarian church that forbade women from seeking college educations or employment, but eventually escaped. Now a seminarian at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Samantha is a writer, activist, and speaker exploring feminist and liberation theologies.


Creating Sanctuary: Safety for LGBTQ+ Youth at Church and Home


Heidi Weaver-Smith, Melissa Meyer, & Andy Buechel

time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: LOVEboldly, an organization that equips Christians to practice reconciliation with the LGBTQ+ community, and Safe and Supported, a project of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services dedicated to preventing LGBTQ youth homelessness, work together to support parents and pastors of LGBTQ youth. This workshop will explore the needs and experiences of youth, families, pastors, and congregations and equip them with the ability to engage in the big questions and pastoral concerns while providing guidance that can help youth and families in crisis.

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.


Reconstructing Your Faith

Session lEADER: Aaron Van Voorhis

time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: This session is primarily for those struggling with their faith and wondering how to hold onto a Christian identity. Its purpose is to help participants redefine/reconstruct their faith as a way of living in the world rather than a set of emotive beliefs and to see doubt and unknowing as an integral part of their faith. Participants will leave understanding that Christianity is about embracing suffering and doubt, and finding God in the simple act of love itself.

Biography: I hold a BA in biblical studies and a Master of Divinity. In 2009, I took the position of lead pastor at Central Avenue Church of Glendale (CA). We are a diverse, affirming, and independent Christian community. I am the author of numerous articles, a regular conference presenter, and recently published my first book, “A Survival Guide for Heretics,” (Wipf & Stock 2016).

Books: "A Survival Guide for Heretics," Wipf & Stock, 2016

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As We Knew Better, Did We Do Better?

SESSION LEADERS: Kathy Baldock & Ed Oxford

time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: Beginning with ancient cultures, Kathy Baldock uses a visual timeline to explore the social and sexual roles of men and women, and the slow progression of understanding sexual orientation from the 1870s to the 1970s. You’ll understand how and why the word “homosexual” was first used in the Bible in 1946. Records show, however, homosexuality did not come a “moral” issue in Christianity until the early 1980s. So, as we understood better about human sexuality, did we do better with Bible translations?

Biographies: Kathy Baldock is the author of "Walking the Bridgeless Canyon" and has been teaching and speaking on the topic of the history of cultural and religious discrimination against the LGBTQ community in America. Recently, along with Ed Oxford, she has been doing original research in translation notes of modern Bible versions, as well as digging in deeper to understand the slow progression of information about human sexuality, and how conservative Christians have addressed the topic of homosexuality since the 1950s.

Ed graduated from Talbot Seminary (Biola University) in La Mirada, California with a Masters of Divinity where he studied Greek and Hebrew in addition to many other theological topics. Ed has served with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Japan, and worked on staff at a Baptist Church in Southern California. He currently owns a financial company in the Los Angeles area but spends his free time working on a book he is co-authoring with Kathy Baldock based on their research in old archives regarding Bible translation.

Books: Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach between the Church and the LGBT Community (Canyonwalker Press)


"She's My Dad": A Father's Transition and a Son's Redemption

sESSION LEADERS: Paula and Jonathan Williams

time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: Paula and Jonathan Williams will talk about the trials and triumphs of how one father and son, both pastors, handled the father's transition from Paul to Paula

Biographies: Dr. Paula Williams is an internationally known speaker on gender equity and LGBTQ advocacy. She is the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado. She is also the president of RLT Pathways, where she provides pastoral counseling and corporate consulting. Paula has consulted with international corporations, religious denominations, media outlets, including NPR's Radiolab, and state governments

As a transgender pastor and keynote speaker, Paula has been featured in the New York Times, TED, TEDxMileHigh, the Denver Post, New Scientist, Radio New Zealand, The Huffington Post, and Colorado Public Radio. Paula's TEDxMileHigh talk on gender equity has had over 1.6 million views on YouTube.

Jonathan Williams is the Lead Pastor of Forefront Church in Brooklyn, New York. He serves on the board of W/ Collective, an organization dedicated to starting progressive Christian Churches. He also serves on the board of Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado. He holds an M.Ed from Eastern University in Urban and Multicultural Education.

Jonathan is a writer who covers religion and spirituality, current trends, and LGBTQIA inclusion and justice. Jonathan has written for the Huffington Post, Faithfully Magazine, The Christian Standard, and more. Jonathan has been featured in The New York Times, The Christian Post, and Rebel Storytellers.

Books: "She's My Dad" by Jonathan S. Williams and Paula Stone Williams Westminster John Knox Press

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Stories of Intersex and Faith


time: Friday, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM


Session Description: Join us for one of the first screenings of the new documentary Stories of Intersex and Faith. Every year in the United States, thousands of needless surgeries are performed on children even though the United Nations has called some of these procedures “torture.” Our anxieties about sex and gender, often rooted in religion, have lead us to hide, shame, and harm healthy intersex children. Caught in the cross-hairs of the culture wars, intersex people can even find themselves marginalized within LGBTQ+ communities.

Fighting for the end of non-consensual surgeries, legal protections, informed medical care, and inclusion, five courageous intersex people come out of the shadows to share their stories of faith, doubt, trauma, resilience, and courage. They insist, “It’s society that needs to be healed, not us.” 

Biography: Dr. DeFranza recently produced the documentary "Stories of Intersex and Faith" with Lianne Simon and Paul Van Ness. She is an author and speaker advocating for the inclusion of intersex people in the world and church. She has been serving on the board of Q Christian since October of 2017.

Books: "Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female and Intersex in the Image of God" (Eerdmans Publishing) and a contributing author to "Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church" (Zonderan) among other publications.


Love One Another and Keep Doing the Dishes: Living with Differences in Intentional Community

Session leader: melinda melone

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


Session Description: Community is necessary for our well-being, and also can be difficult to maintain. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ people, and can be complicated by differences of conviction on issues like same-sex sexual relationships. A panel of intentional community members will discuss how our communities have been managing these issues, and will answer questions about life in intentional community and LGBTQ+ well-being.

Biography: Melinda Melone is a member of Church of the Sojourners, an intentional community in San Francisco. She is also a mom, a Montessori elementary teacher, and a children’s ministry leader. She will be joined by members of Sojourners and other communities.

Books: “Oriented to Faith” (Wipf and Stock), “Being Church” (Cascade/New Monastic Press) “How to Become a Saint: A Beginner's Guide” (Brazos Press)