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Covenant Conversation: Oklahoma

August 27, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Signs of Hope: Embodying God’s love and justice

We are living in complicated, challenging times … and that is especially true for people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in the church. Even when we sense God’s call to reach out in compassion and work for equity and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people, it can still be difficult to understand, to find the right words, to know how best to proceed. This event is for everyone seeking to move forward in the journey toward being a truly welcoming church. In keynote presentations, in workshops focusing on particular topics and interests, and in conversations around lunch tables, we’ll start a conversation that can touch lives and transform the church!

Read below for more information or scroll to the bottom of this page to register in person or online!

Keynote Address: Impatient Hope

As Christians who are or support persons who are LGBTQI+, we believe God makes the impossible possible. We not only believe it, we’ve seen it happen in the last few years, in relation to ordination and marriage. But lately, we may seem like we are going “backwards” in relation to justice and full inclusion.  How can this be happening? Will we have to start over? What is God thinking?  What does it look like be joyful, hopeful followers of Jesus Christ and keep fighting the good fight both at the same time?  We’ll explore together how hope leads to impatience, and how hope-full impatience leads to action.

Keynote Speaker: Cynthia Rigby

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Rigby is W.C. Brown professor of theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she has taught since 1995. She is a sought-after speaker who is known for making the “so what?” of Christian doctrine clear and accessible. The Dallas Morning News called Professor Rigby “one of the great theologians of our time.” An energetic scholar, Dr. Rigby’s latest book is Holding Faith: A Practical Introduction to Christian Faith (Abingdon Press, 2018). 

Professor Rigby enjoys lecturing and teaching for academic, church, and denominational events both domestically and internationally. Dr. Rigby is actively engaged with congregations, preaching, teaching adult education classes, and leading church conferences on many different subjects. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and a member of Cimarron Presbytery.


Gender and Sexuality 101

We live in a time of shifting language and ways of thinking about gender and sexuality. It can be overwhelming to navigate. This workshop will be an overview of terms and definitions used today, with a particular emphasis on diverse gender identities.

Slats Toole is a writer, musician, preacher and theater professional currently based in Minneapolis, MN. Slats’ Lenten poetry series has been compiled in the collection Queering Lent, and their work has also been published in places like Call to Worship, The Presbyterian Outlook and Sacramental Life. Slats has led workshops on expansive language and queer theology (with a particular emphasis on gender identity) throughout the United States and Canada, and is proud to serve on the Covenant Network board.    


The Biblical and Theological Case for Inclusion

Opponents of the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the church’s life and leadership have often quoted the Bible and classical theologians to make their case. But what do scriptures and tradition really say? We examine ancient and modern texts with fresh eyes to understand affirming LGBTQIA+ people is not only acceptable in our tradition, but the fullest expression of it.

Cynthia Rigby is W.C. Brown professor of theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. (See bio above.)



Expanding Our Worship

While we say we want to include everyone, language in our worship sometimes tells another story. This workshop will focus on how to adapt and contextualize the words we use in liturgy and hymnody to expand our welcome to trans and gender non-conforming people.

Slats Toole is a writer, musician, preacher and theater professional currently based in Minneapolis, MN. (See bio above.)


Healing: Caring for those who have been hurt by the church

In this workshop, we will talk about the ways LGBTQIA+ individuals have been harmed by the church and how we can walk with those who have been hurt.

Rev. Jenny Hardin is a lifelong Presbyterian who grew up in central Illinois and graduated from Monmouth College with a liberal arts degree in Theatre and Religious Studies, and attended the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Ordained in the PC(USA), Jenny lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she serves as Associate Pastor for First Presbyterian Church and as Pastor for UKirk Stillwater.



Deepening the Conversation: First steps and practical tools for talking about inclusion

This workshop will create space for conversation around first steps church leaders can take for talking about inclusion with their congregations as well as provide some practical tools for engaging others with grace. Rev. Jenny Hardin will share stories from her own experience in inclusive spaces and how she has engaged the communities she has been a part of.

Rev. Jenny Hardin is associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Stillwater, and pastor for UKirk Stillwater. (See bio above.)


Inclusive and Affirming Parenting

How can parents raise their kids in ways that create wise, emotionally intelligent young people, able to live with honesty and health as LGBTQIA+ people, or as allies sensitive to equity and inclusion for their peers of all gender identities and sexual orientations. This workshop will offer food for thought and practical tips.

Rev. Landon Whitsitt is senior pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City. He previously served as synod executive of the Synod of Mid-America. Rev. Chad Herring recently concluded service has pastor of the Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, and has served in numerous leadership roles in church and community.


Putting Our Welcome Into Action in the Community


It’s one thing for us to provide safe and inclusive spaces within our own church walls. But what does it look like for us to bring about real change in our communities? We share ideas on how to be prophetic and impactful in both church and society.

Rev. Dr. Lori Walke, is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church in Oklahoma City. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University (B.S. in Political Science & M.S. in Healthcare Administration), Oklahoma City University School of Law (J.D.), Phillips Theological Seminary (M.Div), and Emory University (D.Min). She is often described as a velvet hammer. She is married to Collin Walke, a mediator, mindfulness teacher, and State Representative for House District 87, and together the “Rev & the Rep” try to make as much trouble in the name of Jesus and justice as they can.


Brave Space for LGBTQIA+ Youth: Cultivating spaces of inclusion and belonging

In this workshop we will spend time discussing the markers of brave space for LBGTQIA+ youth, and how to develop spaces that nurture inclusion and belonging. Rev. Paniagua will share her stories from her work with kin-dom community and her most recent learnings from kin-dom camp. 

Rev. Pepa Paniagua is a cradle Presbyterian who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. After graduating with degrees in Religion and Gender Studies, she moved to Austin, Texas, where she attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Ordained in the PC(USA), Rev. Paniagua has been living in the DFW area and serving in Grace Presbytery for almost 15 years. After serving multiple congregations in a youth and families capacity, in 2020, Pepa pursued a call to create a more inclusive and affirming space for our LBGTQIA+ siblings, and those who are not comfortable in “traditional church,” and kin∙dom community was born! Pepa lives with her wife, Kelli, and their two dogs in North Texas.

Schedule for August 27

9:30       Registration opens
10:00     Welcome & Introductions
10:15     Opening worship: “Blessed Imperfection” (Hebrews 11:29-12:2) from The Rev. Brian Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians
11:00     Plenary: Keynote speaker Cynthia Rigby
11:45     Lunch
12:45     Workshop #1 (See options in registration form)
1:45        Break
2:00        Workshop #2 (See options in registration form)
3:00        Free time for reflection/conversation by congregational or community groups
3:30        Closing plenary/worship
4:00        Go in Peace

Join us for a time of learning, sharing, and discovering together!


August 27, 2022
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Brian Ellison
View Organizer Website


Westminster Presbyterian Church, OK
4400 N Shartel Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73118 United States
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(405) 524-2204
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