During the 2016-17 academic year, we partnered with Receiving with Thanksgiving to help sponsor a series of events at Penn State. Eli wrote
I have been dedicated to education and conversation between Christians and LGBT people, as well as the very real overlap of these populations. I do not see us as opposing sides, rather, all parts of God’s family struggling to understand the larger picture.
Taking up Eli’s challenge, we invited a series of nationally-known speakers to campus to help build understanding between the LGBT and Christian communities.
Sunday, November 13, 2016: Our first speaker was Justin Lee, founder of The Gay Christian Network.. Nicknamed “God Boy” as a teenager, Justin chronicles in his book “Torn” his growing realization that he was gay and his desire to understand himself as a gay person loved by God. This experience, which led him to found GCN , has also made him an outstanding bridge-builder and communicator among LGBTQ and Christian people.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: Our next speaker was Dr David Gushee, distinguished professor of ethics at Mercer University and president-elect of the American Academy of Religion. Dr Gushee is the author of the book “Changing Our Mind“, which is a call from a leading evangelical ethics scholar for full acceptance of LGBTQ Christians in the Church. He spoke about his research on earlier contexts in which the church has collectively “changed its mind”, and why he believes that LGBTQ inclusion is another such issue.
Allyson Robinson and Austen Hartke
Sunday, March 26, 2017: We concluded our series with a double bill! Allyson Dylan Robinson and Austen Hartke, authors and transgender Christian activists, were on campus at the end of Penn State LGBTA Student Resource Center‘s Pride Week for an event focused on the gifts that trans* people bring to the church community and the joy that results from their inclusion. This was the first such event in central Pennsylvania, or perhaps in a much wider area; Eli/Miriam would indeed have found this cause for celebration.