Oriented to Love: A Dialogue about Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Church
A Call for Applicants
ESA is now accepting applications for participants in the next Oriented to Love dialogue around the issue of sexual and gender diversity in the church. It will take place Sunday-Tuesday, September 17-19, 2017, at the beautiful Saint Raphaela Center (just outside of Philadelphia). (We encourage you to submit an application for any dialogue at this time. There is a place on the application for you to indicate which dialogue you prefer.)
The two main requirements for participation in this dialogue are an open heart and a committed faith in Christ. We need the group to be as diverse as it is small. Since this conversation will focus on how believers consider sexual and gender diversity in the church, our shared faith in and reliance on Christ will bind us together and make our efforts more productive and long-lasting.
The goals of this dialogue are NOT to:
- strike theological stances,
- debate each other about various Scripture passages, or
- agree with each other.
The goals ARE to:
- help LGBTQIA and heterosexual/cisgender Christians of all stripes come to the same table, regardless of our theological understanding of the issues;
- listen to each other’s stories and in doing so get to know and understand each other;
- ask hard questions in a safe environment;
- discover what God is doing in and through LGBTQIA Christians and among heterosexual Christians who love them; discuss how the church can be the church for sexual/gender minorities as well as for the sexual/gender majority; and discover what committed Christians, both LGBTQIA and heterosexual/cisgender, have to offer and teach each other within the larger body of Christ.
We encourage you to apply for participation if you are: gay, bisexual, heterosexual, asexual, or questioning; transgender, gender queer, or intersex; single, partnered, or married; holding what is sometimes referred to as a “Side A” position (those who support same-sex marriage and relationships) or a “Side B” position (those who promote celibacy for Christians with same-sex attractions), or not sure what you believe. We are especially looking for:
- LGBTQIA Christians (both Side A and B) who have been hurt by the church but still love and long for a home in the church;
- Side B heterosexual/cisgender Christians who feel the church is at risk because of the cultural shifts surrounding issues of sexual and gender diversity;
- LGBTQIA Christians who are wrestling with how to love Side B heterosexual Christians well;
- Side B heterosexual/cisgender Christians who are wrestling with how to love LGBTQIA people well;
- Christian parents of LGBTQIA people;
- any Christian who wants to understand how to live in unity and love with those who hold different theological understandings from their own (in other words, people who disagree with them), particularly in light of the topic of sexual and gender diversity.
There is no fee to apply. Upon selection, participants will be asked to pay a $300 fee (this includes all meals and lodging during the dialogue). Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the event. (A limited number of partial scholarships are available; please indicate your need for a scholarship when you submit your application.)
If you are selected, we ask that you bring your authentic self to the event and come fully committed to the spirit and goals of the dialogue. You will be required to participate in some pre-dialogue reflection work that will help prepare you and others for our time together.
If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, you are a lover of Jesus, and you can embrace the goals stated above, please fill out the application form (see link below) and return it to Kristyn Komarnicki (via email by clicking on name at left, or by mail (Att’n: K. Komarnicki, ESA/Sider Center, ELC Eastern University, 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA 19087). Application deadline for the September 2017 dialogue is June 10, 2017.
Twelve participants will be selected from among the applications we receive, and all applicants will be notified of their status no later than June 24, 2017, so that selected applicants can make their travel plans.
July 6-8, 2017: Philadelphia, PA area
September 17-19, 2017: Philadelphia, PA area
January 25-27, 2018: Philadelphia, PA area
Spring 2018, dates TBD: Los Angeles, CA
Summer 2018, dates TBD: Portland, OR