Workshops Will Enrich the “Marriage Matters” Conference

PrintThe 2013 Covenant Conference will feature an outstanding line-up of workshops exploring various facets of Marriage Matters and other aspects of the ministry of the Covenant Network.  Conference participants will be able to choose two workshops on Friday.

Registrants: Please complete this form to assist us in planning for sufficient space.


11:00 a.m. Options

Not Just a Sack of Problems: Ministering to GLBTQ Youth

Café Pride is a safe, social space for GLBTQ youth and their allies age 16-24 open every Friday night from 8 p.m.  midnight at Lake View Presbyterian Church.  Our youth are largely street-based and it is easy to fall into the trap of merely seeing them as just a sack of problems to solve.  Hungry?  Here’s a hot dog.  Cold?  Here’s an old coat.  But these are children of God, whole human beings with loves and desires, faiths and theologies.  So what matters most?  Meeting their very real physical needs for shelter, food, or employment? Or letting ourselves be changed by their stories and carving out a place for them in our faith communities when they are ready? 

Alex Wirth has his Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and is the associate pastor for social justice, building maintenance, and a bunch of other stuff at Lake View Presbyterian Church. Alex buys vinyl albums more than mp3s, tries to ride his bike more than drive a car, make/bake things more than buy them, and generally stick to a punk rock, do-it-yourself mindset like Jesus did.

Strategy and Organizing for the 2014 General Assembly

What is the Covenant Network planning at the General Assembly this summer? How can you get involved, now and in Detroit?

Tricia Dykers Koenig has been the National Organizer for the Covenant Network for 13 years. She is a member of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve.

The Reformation Project: Changing Minds in Conservative Churches

In this workshop, Matthew Vines will share his journey growing up in an evangelical PC(USA) church and his efforts to open up the dialogue about LGBT issues in conservative communities. He will focus on the unique dynamics of discussing the Bible and homosexuality with evangelicals, and he will detail the creation of The Reformation Project, which held its first leadership training conference for pro-LGBT Christians in conservative churches earlier this fall.

Matthew Vines is the president of The Reformation Project and the author of the forthcoming book God and the Gay Christian: What the Bible Says—and Doesn’t Say—About Homosexuality, which will be published by Random House in March 2014. In early 2012, Matthew posted an hour-long video online of a speech he gave at a Kansas church about the Bible and homosexuality, making the case for the acceptance of same-sex relationships in the church. Since then, Matthew has been working to open the dialogue on LGBT issues in evangelical communities.

Civil Marriage and Religious Marriage: How Some Churches Are Handling the Distinction

We will be exploring the relationship between civil marriage and Christian marriage. As we navigate the patchwork nature of marriage equality from state to state, we’ll talk about why some people think civil and religious marriage should stay yoked and about how some churches and pastors have decided to separate the two.

Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She is honored to be a member of the board of the Covenant Network. When she’s not working for Jesus or driving soccer carpools, Marci plays the cello, rides her bike, takes belly dance classes, and tries to leave room in her life for grace to break through. She blogs at www.marciglass.com.

The Mission and Work of the Covenant Network Today

Since its founding in 1997, the Covenant Network has had a twin focus: inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life and leadership of the PCUSA, and the unity of the church. That mission persists even after the passage of new ordination standards in 2011, but with new opportunities and focus. This workshop will explore the new mission statement and “Call to Covenant Community” of the Covenant Network and invite conversation about the future of the organization.

Brian Ellison has served as executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians since August 2012. Previously, he was pastor of Parkville (Mo.) Presbyterian Church for 13 years and has served in numerous leadership roles for the General Assembly and Heartland Presbytery. A graduate of Harvard University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he is also a public radio journalist, a freelance writer, and an adjunct instructor at Saint Paul School of Theology. Brian and his partner Troy live in Kansas City.

Building an Inclusive Church: A Toolkit to Guide Your Process

Are you passionate about creating welcoming congregations for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people? Come learn about a helpful toolkit to facilitate a welcoming process that builds relationships and strengthens churches working towards welcome and beyond.

Alex Patchin McNeill is the new Executive Director at More Light Presbyterians. He is the first openly transgender person to head a mainline Protestant organization. He is a life-long Presbyterian, and a nationally known educator and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians. Alex holds his Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He currently lives in Maryland just outside of Washington, DC with his wife and three dogs.

Conversation with the Keynoter: Amy Plantinga Pauw

Here’s a chance to continue the conversation with the keynote speaker. Questions and conversation will be welcome as the group reflects on the speaker’s plenary address.

Amy Plantinga Pauw is the Henry P. Mobley, Jr., Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. She is general editor of the multi-volume series Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible, published by Westminster John Knox. Amy leads adult Bible studies at her home church in Louisville.

4:00 p.m. Options

Same-Gender Marriages—Stories from the Church

In this period of continued “study” of same-sex marriages, for many couples, congregations and pastors, it is not a merely theoretical issue. In this workshop, we’ll hear from a panel of individuals and couples in the PCUSA who have been married—with varying degrees of involvement and support from their Presbyterian churches. We’ll examine the impact of the current legal/polity situation by telling the stories of those most personally affected, and explore why “marriage matters”—in the context of the faith community–for them.

David Colby, moderator, is the pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Paul and serves as a member of the Covenant Network board of directors.  He is currently the moderator of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.  This September, Dave and his wife Laura celebrated their tenth anniversary.

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, much of it surprising. Marriage sits at the intersection of many human concerns: religious, political, economic, legal, familial. As these concerns shift across the breadth of the biblical witness, so do views about marriage. In this workshop, participants will examine a range of biblical texts, and discuss their implications for the movement towards marriage equality.

Amy Plantinga Pauw

Same-Sex Marriage in the PCUSA: A Polity History

According to decisions of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, a teaching elder can be legally married to a same-gender spouse, but that marriage service should not be conducted by another Presbyterian. How did we get into this situation, and how can it be fixed?

Tricia Dykers Koenig

Connecting the Dots: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Ever felt tongue-tied in discussing the nuances of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender identities? Wish there was a better way to talk about gender identity and sexual orientation that doesn’t segment people into categories but unites us all in a journey of discovery and expression? We promise this workshop will inspire new ways of thinking and teaching others about gender and sexuality that you won’t want to miss.

Alex Patchin McNeill

Marriage Matters: But So Does How We Welcome Single, Divorced, and Widowed People

Does the church “family camp” include me?  Will there be childcare at those 7:00 p.m. Session meetings?  Where’s my Sunday School class since I’m not a “young parent”?  No, I don’t want to meet your nephew.  As we seek to welcome all the diversity of families found in our churches, how does our programming, implicit and explicit language, and church structure welcome or exclude those for whom “singleness matters”?

Libby Shannon serves as Associate Director of the Center for Spiritual Life and Associate Chaplain at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she also teaches Women and Gender Studies.  Libby is entering her fourth year as a member of the National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and second year as Co-Moderator.  When not seeking ways to be a professional activist she spends as much time as possible with her favorite “B” words– bicycles, the Atlanta Braves, and books.

“Living Beyond Betrayal” – A Workshop on The Self-Shaming God Who Reconciles, A Pastoral Response to Abandonment within the Christian Canon

Trust is central to healthy relationships. When trust is betrayed, a crisis erupts that damages individuals and communities. If God is experienced as the betrayer of trust, the integrity of God is put at risk. The Bible calls this experience of betrayal of trust “to be put to shame.” This workshop introduces biblical texts in the Psalms which describe being put to shame and its attendant theological crisis. Particular attention will be paid to how God resolves this theological crisis by identifying the shamed one and with the betrayer. Finally, we will reflect on how the biblical witness can shape pastoral healing with those who are abandoned and with their perpetrators. 

Warner Bailey serves as Director of Presbyterian Studies at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, and Theologian in Residence at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church (Fort Worth). Honorably retired in 2004, he completed 34 years of pastoral leadership. He was Moderator of Bills and Overtures Committee for the 2001 General Assembly. His book, The Self-Shaming God Who Reconciles, was published by Pickwick Publications this year.

The Reformation Project: Changing Minds in Conservative Churches

In this workshop, Matthew Vines will share his journey growing up in an evangelical PC(USA) church and his efforts to open up the dialogue about LGBT issues in conservative communities. He will focus on the unique dynamics of discussing the Bible and homosexuality with evangelicals, and he will detail the creation of The Reformation Project, which held its first leadership training conference for pro-LGBT Christians in conservative churches earlier this fall.

Matthew Vines

Conversation with the Keynoter: Stacy Johnson

Here’s a chance to continue the conversation with the keynote speaker. Questions and conversation will be welcome as the group reflects on the speaker’s plenary address.

William Stacy Johnson is the author of A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law and Politics, which was released in a Second Edition last year.  He is Princeton Theological Seminary’s Arthur M. Adams Professor of Systematic Theology.  A Presbyterian minister and a lawyer, Johnson’s work over the years has focused on the future of Christian churches, and especially the theological, ethical, and spiritual challenges they face.

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