LA Conference on Bible-Based LGBT Inclusion


Are you a Christian who wants to be better equipped to advocate on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in your faith community? The Reformation Project is excited to announce that our first-ever national conference will be held in Los Angeles, California, from October 20-22, 2016. This three-day conference has two primary goals:

  1. Providing training and resources from church leaders and biblical scholars on how to talk about the Bible and LGBT issues in constructive ways with non-affirming Christians.
  2. Connecting LGBT-affirming Christians with like-minded people in their local areas to work together towards a more inclusive and affirming Church.

The conference will be a prime networking opportunity for all Christians who want to advance the dignity of LGBT people, especially Christians in non-affirming churches, denominations, or communities who seek to have more loving, fruitful, and informed conversations with non-affirming friends and family members.

Academy for Racial Justice - Thursday, October 20

The Academy for Racial Justice is designed to meet people wherever they are at in the racial justice and reconciliation journey. Those who are newer to conversations about ethnic identity and systemic oppression will be encouraged in their next steps, and those who have been working on this for decades will be celebrated in their wisdom and expertise. The academy will combine biblical teaching, simulations, ethnic-specific break-outs, and significant cross-cultural dialogue around the intersection of racial identity and LGBT issues. The Academy will take place on Oct 20 before our training conference in Los Angeles begins that evening and requires separate registration.


The success of our conference depends greatly on our volunteers. There are many different areas where we will need the help of volunteers throughout the conference. We offer a discounted rate on registration of $25 to those who are able to commit at least 6 hours throughout the 3 days. If you are interested in volunteering in Los Angeles, please send an email to to learn more about it. Volunteer slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.


A limited number of scholarships are available to cover registration costs for attendees. To apply, please send an inquiry email to You will be sent an application to be returned by September 2, 2016. All decisions on scholarships will be made by September 9.

If you would like to give to the scholarship fund so that those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend can, please donate to The Reformation Project here.

Conference Testimonials

Want to know what our conferences are all about? Hear from our attendees themselves! Take a look at these great testimonies and get a feel for all you will experience and learn at a TRP regional conference.

Conference Speakers


Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson is Professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and she is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church (Baltimore-Washington Conference). She earned her doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University and, earlier in her career, she practiced law in Washington, D.C., for nearly ten years. Her current research interests involve contextual and liberationist readings of Scripture in the age of HIV and AIDS. Her publications include Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law (T&T Clark, 2004), and Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2009). More information about her current research can be found at her website:

Dr. James V. Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, where he has served as moderator of the Commission on Theology, dean of Western Theological Seminary, and General Synod Professor. He has taught the New Testament for more than 25 years and is the author of a number of books. In 2013, Brownson published Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, which was hailed by The Boston Globe as “perhaps the most extensive, accessible, and direct evangelical reckoning with the Bible’s passages on homosexuality.” Brownson was a guest lecturer at The Reformation Project’s inaugural conference, and his lecture series from that event can be found here.

Darren Calhoun is currently the Worship Leader at Urban Village Church - South Loop in Chicago and previously served as a volunteer worship leader at Willow Chicago for 9 years. Worship has been a central part of Darren’s ministry life including leading choirs, dance teams, and visual arts ministries. Additionally racial justice and LGBTQ+ inclusion are especially important to him. Darren is an Associate Fellow for Racial Justice with Evangelicals for Social Action and a long-time volunteer with The Marin Foundation. In 2015 he co-facilitated The Academy for Racial Justice at TRP in Atlanta, GA and lead worship at TRP in Kansas City, MO. He brings with him an intentional focus on the church being inclusive of a diversity of people and expressions as an authentic reflection of the Kingdom of God. Lastly, Darren is an extrovert who loves hugs, anything involving chocolate and peanut butter, and social media. Follow him @heyDarren or his blog

Dr. Megan DeFranza is a Christian theologian and author of Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God. She facilitates education and reconciliation around controversial issues for Christian communities, particularly around sex, gender, and sexuality. With Lianne Simon, she is beginning a documentary on Intersex People of Faith.

Currently serving as a Visiting Researcher at Boston University’s School of Theology and a Research Associate with the Institute for the BioCultural Study of Religion’s Sex Differences Project, she has taught courses at Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. DeFranza holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Marquette University, an M.A. in Theology and an M.A. in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Toccoa Falls College. She lives with her beloved husband and daughters in Beverly, MA, blogs at, and tweets (occasionally) @MKDeFranza.

Nicole Garcia (she/her/hers) has a Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of Colorado Denver and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is a gender specialist in private practice at NicoleGarcia Counseling, LLC, in Longmont CO. Nicole is a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Nicole is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary in St. Paul MN through a specialized distance learning program. Nicole self-identifies as an out and proud transgender Latina of faith who has been recently been featured in an article in The Huffington Post and in a podcast on Religion for Life. Nicole has had recent articles posted in the New York Times and OnFaith by Nicole has been a keynote speaker, facilitated workshops, and/or participated in panels concerning gender identity and spirituality in Boston, Charlotte, Duluth, Houston, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Paul, Washington D.C., and throughout the Colorado.

Julie Rodgers is a Christian speaker and a leader in the movement working toward full inclusion for LGBT people in the church. She was the first openly gay Christian hired at a conservative Christian university when she served as an Associate Chaplain at Wheaton College, and she's been an advisor to Christian colleges during a time of tremendous cultural transition. Through her work as a writer and speaker, Julie also played a key role in shutting down Exodus International. Julie's writing and her story have been featured in TIME, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, and you can follow her website or on Twitter @Julie_rodgers for more. Her advocacy is rooted in her passion for Jesus, and her hope is that the church will become a place where everyone feels wanted.

Lianne Simon is a housewife and a novelist, an intersex woman trying her best to follow Jesus. Her books, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite and A Proper Young Lady tell deeply emotional tales of growing up outside the male-female binary. Lianne's personal essay Changeling addresses her decision to live her adult life as a man or a woman. Lianne is a board member of Pride School Atlanta, a safe place for bullied kids to learn and grow. She and her husband and their cat live in a cottage in the fair countryside outside Nashville.

The Rev. Winnie Varghese is Priest and Director for Justice & Reconciliation at Trinity Church in New York City. She is a native Texan with family roots in the ancient Mar Thoma church of southwest India (State of Kerala). She has been active in peace and justice work as a board member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and a writer for The Witness magazine and the Huffington Post. She is also featured in the Via Media and Living the Questions teaching series. Winnie has been a priest for 15 years and served as the rector of St. Mark's in-the-Bowery and Episcopal Chaplain at Columbia University and UCLA. Through her writing and diocesan work, she has become a prominent voice for justice in the Episcopal Church.

Matthew Vines is the founder and executive director of The Reformation Project. He is also the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, published by Convergent in 2014. In 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at a church in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, making the case that Christians should affirm gay Christians and their marriage relationships. His speech went viral, having been seen nearly a million times and leading to a feature story in The New York Times. In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project and hosted an inaugural leadership training conference for 50 Christians from across the U.S. and Canada. He is now expanding his efforts with conferences and regular speaking engagements across the country. God and the Gay Christian has generated significant media attention, with US News & World Report calling it “profoundly important” and veteran religion reporter David Crumm writing that it “is going to be a classic.”

Elevating the Dialogue Panel - Friday, 1:30pm 

Dr. Ken Fong is the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. Because he’s long been regarded as one of the highest-profile Asian-American pastors and leaders, when Dr. Ken Fong answered God’s call in 2007 to compel evangelical churches to love and embrace their LGBTQ+ Christian kindred, many Christians began to pay attention. While there clearly still is a long, long way to go, he sees signs of movement. From the trust-bridges he’s built with secular LGBTQIA advocacy groups, to the increasing invitations from pastors and Christian groups to share his approach, to his church's safe support group becoming a redemptive family to over 50 people. Ken often treats his weekly podcast’s national and global audiences to guests who personalize and humanize this topic making it all the more accessible to an even broader audience.

The Rev. Fred Harrell is the senior pastor of City Church in San Francisco, California. He is a native of Central Florida and is a graduate of the University of Florida (degree in economics) and Reformed Theological Seminary (graduate degree in theology and pastoral care). Before coming to San Francisco, he founded and led a university-based ministry designed to answer the questions of thoughtful seekers and to equip Christians for transformational ministries in and through the church. He and his wife, Terely, have been married since 1986, and they have four children.

The Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach is the lead pastor at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California. He wasn't raised in a Christian household. He actually grew up thinking that Christians were the "enemy." After joining a Bible study in high school in hopes to disprove the Bible, he ended up following Jesus. Caleb went on to study at Ozark Christian College, Talbot School of Theology (Biola University), and is finishing a Doctor of Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served at churches in Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and was an associate pastor at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, CA for 11 years. Caleb is also the author of Messy Grace (a book that tells his story and urges people to live in the tension of grace and truth). In their spare time, Caleb, his wife (Amy), and their two kids enjoy Disneyland, the beach, and traveling. Caleb is also a fan of Star Wars, the Kansas City Chiefs, Mizzou Tigers, the Lakers, and having fun!

Event Details

October 20, 2016 at 6pm - October 22, 2016
Long Beach Hilton
701 W Ocean Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90831
United States
Google map and directions

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Events sponsored by The Reformation Project may be photographed or video-recorded by independent media outlets. We recognize some participants would prefer not to appear in media coverage or promotional material. Such participants will be given different colored lanyards for their name badges. While this effort has proven largely successful in other conferences, we cannot guarantee it. By registering for the conference, you are agreeing that your image may appear in media or promotional material.

All registrations are non-refundable.

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