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Covenant Conversation: Olympia Presbytery

October 8, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Thanks for joining us at The United Churches of Olympia! Click below to view resources from the Covenant Conversation:


Panel Discussion


Deepening Our Welcome with Executive Director Brian Ellison

Beyond the Clobber Texts with the Rev. Kelly Spencer

Poem Packet from Healing: What Does It Take to Be Seen with Dr. Cindy Caldwell

Read further for an idea of what to expect from a Covenant Conversation:

What does it meant to be welcoming of LGBTQIA+ people in the church … and how welcoming are we? It has been a decade since the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved inclusive policies on ordination and marriage — but how can our presbytery and our congregations have better conversations and take meaningful action to put our commitments into action? What is the difference between “welcoming” queer folks and really “affirming” them? Wherever you and your church are on this journey of understanding and ministry, we hope you’ll join this opportunity to connect with others and take the next steps toward a church that experiences and shows forth God’s love for all!

All are welcome at this event: Church members, pastors, elders and deacons, people in other presbyteries, even non-Presbyterians! And if you have any questions, contact Brian Ellison, CNP executive director, at brian@covnetpres.org or Robin Crawford, OlyPres planning committee chair, at the4crawfords@msn.com.


Our event will gather with worship. Inclusive prayer and praise, thoughtful preaching and joyful music will shape our time together. The Rev. Brian Ellison will preach and facilitate a panel of LGBTQIA+ voices, sharing their experience in the church and setting the stage for our day of learning and connecting. We’ll close the day with communion and reflection on what God is calling us to do next. The Rev. Lara Crutsinger-Perry of United Churches is planning and leading worship for this day.

Brian has served the Covenant Network of Presbyterians since 2012, preaching, teaching and providing overall strategic leadership in implementing the organization’s mission. Previously, Brian served as pastor of Parkville Presbyterian Church (near Kansas City, Missouri) for 13 years after his ordination by Olympia Presbytery in 1999. He is Stated Clerk of the Synod of Mid-America and the current moderator of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission. A graduate of Harvard University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Brian also is host/contributor at NPR affiliate KCUR-FM. He and his partner, Troy Lillebo, live in Kansas City.

Lara is pastor of the United Churches of Olympia, a minister in the United Church of Christ.


Understanding Gender and Sexual Identity

An introduction to LGBTQIA+ basics: The meaning of sexual orientation and gender identity, what those letters stand for, basic aspects of respectful interaction with LGBTQIA+ (like pronoun and other language usage), and how we can better grasp one another’s self-understanding and experience.

Led by Char McMullen, Daniel Herron, Jen Laine and Vix Grosso. Char s a ruling elder and member at United Churches and is trained in the Our Whole–Lives Sexuality Education program. Daniel Herron is a member at Trinity Presbyterian in Tacoma and a two-time Young Adult Advisory Delegate to General Assembly. Jen Laine and her teenage kiddo, Vix Grosso, are active at United Churches, where Jen is co-chair with Char of the Spiritual Transformation Ministry.


Beyond the Clobber Texts

Yearning for accessible tools to navigate the Bible, theology, and queerness? This class is designed to empower you with the context, language, and truth of God’s affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community. Join us as we look “beyond the Clobber passages” and share in the work of repairing our welcome for all beloved children of God.

Rev. Kelly Spencer (she/her) is currently serving as the Administrative Coordinator for Olympia Presbytery while looking for her next call. A 2020 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity and a certificate in Women, Gender, and Theology, Kelly is a passionate advocate for the celebration of queer gifts in the Church. In her free time, you can find Kelly exploring the great outdoors with her wife, Rev. Katie Spencer, and their fun-loving puppy, Benedict!


Deepening Our Welcome: Practical Steps for Congregations

“All Are Welcome.” There isn’t a congregation in the world that wouldn’t say this about themselves. But do LGBTQIA+ people actually believe it when they hear it? How does a church take its “welcome” to the next level, not merely opening its doors but actually honoring people of all sexual orientations and gender identities with authenticity and affirmation, both within its walls ad in the broader community? And how do you let the world know that’s who you are striving to be? We’ll get into practical details and share best – and worst – practices so we can all get better at this.

Brian Ellison is executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.


Expanding Our Worship

The most central element of most churches’ life is its weekly gathering of praise and prayer, singing and celebrating. But it’s also the place where our habits and traditions often result in the most exclusion for people whose identity or experience leads them to disconnection and real pain. We’ll talk about practical ways to make our worship more expansive – and richer for all participants – through language, music and more.

Brian Ellison is executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.


Stories from the Pews

“Everything is held together with stories.” he thought, “That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion” (Barry Lopez, Winter Count).
Join five story tellers who will share their experience as LGBTQIA+ people and loved ones of how the church has been helpful or hurtful … or both.

Facilitated by Rev. Tammy Stampfli is serving as a Chaplain to Providence St. Peter’s ICU’s and holder of stories.


Healing: What does it take to be SEEN?

How congregations can help our LGBTQ+ friends to heal from the traumatic harm done by the church.

Dr. Cindy Caldwell comes to us as a Lesbian, as well as a mother, daughter, sister, friend and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager of Kitsap Mental Health Services in Bremerton. She has a PhD in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology (Carl Jung). Her dissertation is on The Myth of Mary Magdalene and she loves to talk about The Magdalene! Dr. C is a member of Immanuel Presbyterian in Tacoma and is the Elder of the Adult Education program.


Parenting/Grandparenting LGBTQIA+ Kids

Almost everyone has one or more LGBTQIA+ people in their family. Being the parent, grandparent, or friend of one with a child in the LGBTQIA+ community can raise a variety of feelings, responsibilities, and reactions. All are welcome to explore those through stories and conversations with two experienced practitioners who are still learning as they go.

Led by the Rev. Melody Young & Ruling Elder Nancy Nelson. Melody is an honorably retired minister in Olympia Presbytery. She is also the proud mother of an incredible son who is gay.  Nancy is a long time member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Olympia and the proud grandmother of three young adults who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. She is aware of having this role for at least seven years and is still learning what that entails.


9:30   Registration opens / Coffee / Snacks
10:00   Plenary Session: Keynote/Worship
11:15  Workshop session #1 (See possible workshops in registration form)
12:30  Lunch
1:30   Workshop Session #2
2:45   Opportunity for discussions by congregation or particular topical groups
3:15   Closing Worship/Plenary
4:00   Go in peace


October 8, 2022
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Brian Ellison
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The United Churches of Olympia
110 11th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98501 United States
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(360) 943-1210
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