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Speakers

Jeff Chu

Jeff Chu

Over his eclectic journalistic career, Jeff Chu has interviewed presidents and paupers, corporate execs and preachers, Britney Spears and Ben Kingsley. As a writer and editor for Time and Fast Company, he has compiled an award-winning portfolio including stories on hit-making Swedish songwriters (a piece for which he went clubbing in Stockholm); James Bond (for which he stood on a beach and watched Halle Berry emerge from the waves over and over); undercover missionaries in the Arab world (he traveled to North Africa and went to church); and the decline of Christianity in Europe (he prayed). His acclaimed book, Does Jesus Really Love Me?—which earned the cover of the New York Times Book Review—features his reporting on Christianity and sexuality across America. One of Jeff’s prized possessions is a print of a quote from former Senator John Warner, who once told Jeff: “You’re a good little interviewer!”

As a speaker, Jeff’s experience has been equally as compelling. He has stood before audiences in Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and an array of other denominational and non-denominational churches across the country and around the world. He has preached and lectured at major colleges, universities and seminaries, including (to name a few) Princeton, Yale, Fuller, Calvin, Syracuse, and Hope. He has also graced the stages of the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored and Innovation by Design gatherings, as well as the Progressive Youth Ministry, Gay Christian Network, Why Christian?, and Room for All (Reformed Church in America) conferences.

Jeff grew up California and Florida. He went to high school in Miami, at Westminster Christian, where he sat behind Alex Rodriguez in Mr. Warner’s world history class. He’s a graduate of Princeton and the London School of Economics. And he will tell you that he is a writer today largely because of two people: Carmen Gonzalez, his second- and third-grade teacher at Black Pine Circle Day School in Berkeley, California, who first taught him about storytelling, and Charlotte Grimes, whose one-semester journalism seminar at Princeton—the only journalism course he ever took—taught him that he was not a terrible reporter and might even someday be a good one. Jeff has received fellowships from the Phillips Foundation, the French-American Foundation, and the International Reporting Project, and in 2012, was part of the Seminar on Debates in Religion and Sexuality at Harvard Divinity School.

Chu, the nephew and grandson of Baptist preachers, is an ordained elder in the Reformed Church in America. A graduate of Princeton University, the London School of Economics, and Princeton Theological Seminary, he served as a farmhand at PTS’s Farminary. He is now co-host, with Sarah Bessey, of the Evolving Faith Conference and also Teacher-in-Residence at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He hates marzipan and beets. He loves the San Francisco 49ers, the Book of Ecclesiastes, compost, and clementines.

Jamie Bruesehoff

Jamie Bruesehoff

Jamie Bruesehoff (she/her) is an award-winning writer, speaker, and advocate. She is an openly queer woman married to a Lutheran pastor and mom to three spirited children, including a thirteen year old transgender daughter. She is passionate about sharing her family’s story, because she believes our stories are bridges to understanding, compassion, and celebration.

Jamie advocates for LGBTQ youth and adults creating opportunities for learning and conversation in schools, churches, workplaces, and beyond. She works on a local, state, and federal level for policy changes that protect and support LGBTQ people of all ages. Jamie serves as a curator for parents across the country walking with them on their journeys with gender expansive children of all ages.Speaking on stages from NYC Pride to the ELCA National Youth Gathering, Jamie has been described as a “fierce, passionately kind story-teller”. Whether it’s in front of ten people or more than thirty thousand, Jamie shares her experience in a way that touches hearts, changes minds, and inspires positive change.

Jamie works alongside her daughter Rebekah, an outspoken transgender activist, to spread a message of hope for LGBTQ people of all ages and show the world that transgender kids are just like other kids. Their work has been featured by media outlets and organizations around the world, including Good Morning America, NPR, British Vogue, Teen Vogue, The Advocate, and Good Morning Britain. Most recently, Jamie and her family were seen in Marvel’s Hero Project, a Disney+ docu-series. The “Mighty Rebekah” episode celebrated Rebekah’s advocacy and welcomed her into the Marvel Universe, making her one of Marvel’s first transgender superheroes. Jamie is still figuring out what it means to parent a Marvel superhero, but she knows it still includes bugging them to do their chores.

Jamie has degrees in Religion from Gettysburg College and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. In her free time, you can find her playing in the woods and climbing mountains with her family. Embracing her inner mama bear, Jamie strives to live and lead with love, grace, and courage.

Kathy Baldock

Kathy Baldock

Kathy Baldock, author, LGBTQ advocate, and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, based in Reno, Nevada, is a leading expert on the historical and current discrimination against the LGBTQ community, in particular, discrimination centered in the socially conservative Christian church and political sectors.

Her 2014 book, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community, and accompanying presentations, blog, and videos, piece together cultural and religious LGBTQ persecution and discrimination with the need for conservative churches and church leaders to become better educated in order to properly engage members of the LGBTQ community.

Ed Oxford

Ed Oxford lives in Long Beach, California. He graduated from Miami University with a B.S. in Marketing and has a Masters of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology. As a former staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ, he served in campus ministry in Carbondale, Illinois and Tokyo, Japan. He now works in the financial services industry as the owner and CEO of Oxford Financial Advisors. He met Kathy Baldock in 2016 at her seminar in Houston Texas and soon they began going on research adventures together. He loves to give “tours” of his personal antique Bible and book collection which spans 500 years.

Together, Baldock and Oxford are co-authoring Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay (Summer 2021) based on original research into the reasons the word “homosexual” was included for the first time in the 1946 RSV NT Bible.

The upcoming book is a historical and contextually-based survey following male-female roles, human sexuality, procreation, and Bible translations, as impacted by cultural, social, medical, political, legal, and military influences from ancient to current times.

Their work is also the basis of the upcoming documentary 1946: The Movie, also coming out at the end of 2021.

Stacey Chomiak

Stacey Chomiak is an artist in the animation industry, getting her start on the well-loved series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. While she continues to lend her talents to various children’s animated shows, she also illustrates kids books, and is an SCBWI member. She lives happily nestled amid the tall trees of the West Coast, not far from Vancouver, Canada. Stacey identifies as a gay Christian, and loves to advocate for the LGBTQ community and have conversations around faith and sexuality. When she isn’t furiously sketching, Stacey is likely to be out for a jog, critiquing her favourite Hitchcock film, or encouraging her children to dance with her to Whitney Houston.

Keep an eye open for Stacey’s YA Illustrated Memoir Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story, published by Beaming Books in 2021.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon is a songwriter and performer with a unique talent, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. With a voice that has charmed the country, his homespun style is reminiscent of great songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Jeff Buckley.

Harmon has been a show-stopping performer since his early days of playing shows in Lynchburg, VA. His earlier jazz-influenced trio music set the stage for what would be an impressive feat-his appearance on American Idol’s 17th season. Harmon’s smooth and passionate vocals paired with his mature writing sensibility earned him a spot amongst the top six performers of the season. He also caught the attention of some big names like Elton John, who called him after his cover of John’s “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” and tweeted that the performance “took his breath away.” He also performed with Broadway favorite Cynthia Erivo, pop star Katy Perry, and performed his original song “Almost Heaven.”

His debut LP album, Namesake, is a personal and curated journal of his journey over the last few years of his life. It explores themes like the uncomfortable reality of coming out to family, experiencing unrequited love, and existential questions about acceptance and friendship.

With dreamy arrangements and a nostalgic folk sound, Harmon delivers poignant and emotive sets of vocal performances that tell a story of self-acceptance and strength.

Harmon recorded Namesake directly after Idol ended for him, at Big Ego studios in Long Beach California with producer Chris Schlarb (Psychic Temple). Schlarb also produced his first eponymous EP.

Jeremiah currently resides in Baltimore, MD and performs with his band in the area, as well as across the country. His live shows are a testament to his years as a performer and songwriter, and this is only the beginning. He is certainly an artist and performer you don’t want to miss.

Kevin Nguyen

Kevin Nguyen

Kevin Nguyen (he/him/his) is a Vietnamese-American, who was raised Catholic by two immigrant parents. He holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Biology (Baylor University) and Health Education (University of Houston), and a Master’s Degree in College Counseling and Student Development (Azusa Pacific University). He has lived in Texas, New Jersey, California, and a brief stint in Bangkok, Thailand as an English teacher. Kevin values the idea of self-discovery and improvement through education and experience and consider himself an advocate for social justice and equity for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Nicole Garcia

The Rev. Nicole M. Garcia, MA LPC is the Mission Development Pastor at Westview Church in Boulder CO. Pastor Nicole has a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul MN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from CU Denver. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado and continues to work quarter-time as a therapist and clinical supervisor with the Umbrella Collective in Boulder.

Sally Gary

Sally Gary is founder and director of CenterPeace, a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry dedicated to creating space for conversation about faith and sexuality. CenterPeace is dedicated to building community for sexual minorities, by hosting online and in-person retreats. CenterPeace also hosts retreats for families of LGBTQ+ youth, and workshops for churches and school districts to foster greater inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sally holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from Abilene Christian University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. A former high school speech and debate coach, trial lawyer and communication professor, Sally is a teacher at heart. Most of all, Sally is dedicated to serving queer youth, helping them know they are loved and that they belong. Everywhere.

The author of Affirming: A Memoir of Faith, Sexuality, and Staying in the Church, Sally currently resides in Dallas, Texas, with her wife, Karen, and their miniature dapple dachshund, Rudy.

Karen Keen

Karen R. Keen is an educator and spiritual director with The Redwood Center for Spiritual Care and Education. Her passion is making biblical scholarship accessible to the general public and providing spiritual care through classes, groups, and retreats. Karen is particularly interested in the intersections of faith and culture. She is the author of Scripture, Ethics, and the Possibility of Same-Sex RelationshipsThe Bible and Sexuality: A Course Reader, and The Jesus Way: Practicing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

Karen holds master’s degrees in education and exegetical theology from Western Oregon University and Western Seminary, as well as a Th.M. in biblical studies from Duke Divinity School.

Kevin Wright

Kevin Wright is an ordained United Methodist elder who serves as the Chief Program Officer at Urban Arts Partnership, a nonprofit that helps Black and Brown youth achieve postsecondary success in the fields related to creative technology. He is committed to accompanying  people as they pursue their passions without fear or regret and believes that every person has a dynamic purpose in this world. He is a poor to mediocre runner, a decent cook, and usually has the loudest laugh in a room. 

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is the Senior Director of Education & Training at The GLAAD Media Institute, which provides activist, spokesperson, and media engagement training and education for LGBTQ and allied community members, the media industry and advocacy organizations desiring to deepen their media impact. Ross uses the best practices perfected by GLAAD to train a new generation of advocates in order to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people, as well as other marginalized communities.

Ross is also a founder and director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies. The Naming Project has also been the subject of much media, including the award-winning film Camp Out, as well as the controversial episode “Pray the Gay Away?” of Our America with Lisa Ling.

Ross has secured national media interest in stories that bring examples of LGBTQ equality across diverse communities in America. He specializes in relationship between religion and LGBTQ people. Ross contributed to two books focused on LGBTQ Christian youth: Queerfully and Wonderfully Made and Welcoming and Affirming. His forthcoming book, Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ-Inclusive Youth Ministry comes out in April 2021. He has written and appeared on numerous media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Religion News Service.

Ross is a producer for the “Yass, Jesus!” podcast, a faith and sexuality affirming podcast that believes you don’t have to pick between gay and God. Hosts, Daniel Franzese (Actor, Mean GirlsLooking) and Azariah Southworth (former host, The Remix on TBN) meet each week in this hilarious take on a Sunday service to explore big questions and find out what it means to be a Christ-loving member of the LGBTQ community during these divided times.

Ross is a consecrated Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with a specific calling to advocate for LGBTQ people and to bridge the LGBTQ and faith communities. In 2014, he was named one of Mashable’s “10 LGBT-Rights Activists to Follow on Twitter.”

Romell Parks-Weekly

Romell Parks-Weekly has served as pastor of The Sanctuary, an LGBTQ+ affirming congregation, since its founding in 2012. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary, and has published several books responding to the church’s traditional theology about homosexuality, and its consequences. He also teaches affirming theology at the quarterly iAffirm Virtual Symposium at www.iAffirm.faith. He lives in Saint Louis, MO, with his husband of 8 years.

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