This weekend, a unique opportunity – a gift, really – is being made available to anyone who self-identifies as “same-gender attracted,” gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and who is Mormon or comes out of that tradition (i.e., including former or disaffected members of the Church). The same gift is being offered to allies, families and friends of such persons.
The gift? A conference being put on by Mormon Stories this coming weekend in Salt Lake City. Noted poet, author and friend of gay Mormons, Carol Lynn Pearson, along with nationally-recognized GLBT advocate Jimmy Creech, are being flown in from opposite ends of the country to speak at this historic event.
Carol Lynn, author of “Good Bye, I Love You,” “Facing East,” and “No More Goodbyes,” will be the keynote speaker Saturday morning. Jimmy Creech, former United Methodist minister, Chairman of the Board of Soulforce and prominent advocate for gay and lesbian rights within the national and international Christian community, will be the keynote speaker Saturday afternoon.
Other highlights will be: a workshop on Friday afternoon with Carol Lynn Pearson and Bill Bradshaw (noted retired biology professor at BYU who has researched and spoken on biological causes of homosexuality, is a long-time president of Family Fellowship and father of a gay son); a potluck dinner on Friday evening featuring a live “Mormon Stories” interview of Jim Dabakis, local gay-rights pioneer and chairman of the Utah Democratic Party; presentations by Lee Beckstead, noted Salt Lake city therapist, Jimmy Creech and Jim Dabakis, and much more.
The conference will conclude on Sunday morning at 11:30 with an interfaith GLBT-affirmative service to be held at Skaggs Chapel at the First Baptist Church, featuring music, scripture readings and sermons by Jimmy Creech and the Canon of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.
As I have expressed, this is an occasion for gay Mormons to “rise and shout” – not for BYU (!), but to affirm themselves, to seek and provide support and understanding to each other and to listen to men and women who have been pioneers in providing such support and understanding to gay men and women across America, both in the Mormon world as well as the general Christian community.
Registration fees will likely not cover the costs of this event; thus the reference to the conference being a gift. Hats off to the folks at Mormon Stories for taking this brave step into the future by organizing and presenting this conference. Registration information is available here.
More about Jimmy Creech
It was Jimmy Creech who introduced me to the concept that the church (small “c”) was and is immoral for perpetuating bigotry against gays and lesbians, just as the church had been immoral in using the Bible to justify slavery or perpetuate racism and segregation in the South.
Back in May, I wrote a post about Jimmy and his new book, Adam’s Gift after I had the pleasure and honor of meeting him in April when I was visiting my sister in North Carolina.
I found Rev. Creech’s book life-changing, and I think every gay and lesbian Mormon needs to hear this message. In advance of his visit to Salt Lake City this weekend, I am re-sharing here a couple of videos of Jimmy talking about who he is, his ministry and his prophetic message of repentance aimed at religious bigots everywhere, whether they be in the pews or in the pulpits.
In the first video, Jimmy talks about his views concerning a United Methodist minister who was recently tried and convicted for conducting same sex unions in defiance of the Church’s Book of Discipline. In the second video, Jimmy discusses his book, Adam’s Gift, and briefly summarizes parts of it. Though his comments in both videos are made in the context of the United Methodist Church, the concepts he discusses are applicable to all members of the LGBT community and, in particular, resonate with we gay Mormons who have been taught very different concepts of the role of a prophet (discussed in my earlier post) and of morality.
I hope to see many of you at the conference this weekend. For those who can’t make it, some audio and video of the conference talks and breakout sessions will be available on MormonStories.org in the near future.