This weekend, folks in Nashville, Tennessee are in for a one-of-a-kind faith conference that helps LGBT participants to affirm their spiritual worth: Our Family Matters.
This unique event, launched by Kim Clark, is based off her partner Luane Beck's acclaimed documentary God and Gays: Bridging the Gap. The documentary takes the viewer through firsthand experiences of those wanting a relationship with the religious traditions that have rejected them.
The conference, like the documentary, provides a safe space where attendees can reconcile their sexual orientation with their faith.
The four-day event began Wednesday, offering a contemporary Christian perspective on being gay and Christian and acting as an affirming alternative to the so-called "ex-gay" ministries that have tried to monopolize the Christian response to gay and lesbian church members in Tennessee.
The full schedule includes three days of workshops, a film festival, live concerts including Dove Award winner and "Thank You" recording artist Ray Boltz. His performance at Our Family Matters will actually be his first time performing in Nashville, the homeland of Christian Contemporary Music (CCM), since coming out publicly last month in the Washington Blade.
Other national keynote speakers will be Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, founder of Inner Light Ministries, Dr. Jack Rogers, author of Jesus, the Bible, And Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, and Peterson Toscano, a GLAAD-trained spokesperson and brave "ex-gay" survivor who actually attended the so-called "ex-gay" Love In Action program in Tennessee.
Kim Clark also organized the event to raise awareness about the LGBT inclusive congregations in Tennessee, especially in light of the tragic church shooting in Knoxville earlier this summer. Our Family Matters offers healing and support for communities of faith affected by this tragedy.
"We're revealing the enormous support for God ‘and' gays, it's no longer ‘or.' In Christ's love, orientation and faith are already reconciled," says Kim.