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 Books 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 more than a million times and leading to a feature story in The New York Times. In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project in order to help equip and empower Christians to advocate for LGBT inclusion in their faith communities. He speaks regularly at churches, universities, and conferences 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.”
Organizing and Programs Director
AnaYelsi is an Indo-Latinx interlocking mujerista living in the Latin diaspora. She is a straight ally who joined the TRP family in 2014. In addition to being the Organizing and Programs Director, she also runs TRP’s Academy for Racial Justice, a program that combines biblical teaching, simulations, ethnic-specific break-outs, and significant cross-cultural dialogue around the intersection of racial identity and LGBT inclusion. A graduate of The DART Organizer’s Institute, AnaYelsi is an inter-faith community organizer specifically trained to bring people together across racial, religious, and socioeconomic lines to pursue justice in their communities. Prior to joining TRP, she was the Director of Communications and Development for Florida Abolitionist; the Advocacy Director for Word Made Flesh; and worked as an inter-faith organizer with the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (H.O.P.E). An artist and writer, she is the voice behind www.browneyedamazon.com, a website focused on the intersection of art, faith and social justice and the creator of Secret Lives of Feministas, an online community addressing the marginalization of Latinx feminists in mainstream feminism. She has been featured as a speaker and panelist for organizations such as The Gay Christian Network, Human Rights Campaign, Transform Network, Wild Goose Festival and more.
Amelia Markham grew up in Destin, Florida, and is a graduate of Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C., where she earned her B.S. in intercultural studies and Bible. Although coming out prevented her from launching right into local church ministry, Amelia went on to work in international relief and LGBTQ advocacy as the director of outreach for the non-profit Planting Peace in Topeka, Kansas. There, she facilitated operations and programming for their most prominent project, the Equality House, which is better known as the little rainbow house directly across the street from America’s most notorious hate group, The Westboro Baptist Church. Amelia now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she spends most of her time building a grassroots network of LGBTQ Christians+ allies and attempting to navigate what it means to be an LGBTQ person of faith with mixed-Asian American/Native Hawai'ian ancestry and a "for better or for worse" kind of love for the Southeast.
Sara comes to The Reformation Project as a straight ally in the fight for LGBTQ rights. She grew up in Louisville, KY, and brings with her years of experience in anti-oppression work, community organizing, and direct service with immigrant and refugee populations. She began serving her community as an HIV/AIDS organizer with the Student Global AIDS Campaign, where she organized multi-ethnic and inter-faith coalitions. Sara continued to work in solidarity with international organizations in Haiti, Thailand, South Africa, and Taiwan. Sara has specialized in research, data management, and operational sustainability, both as an AmeriCorps VISTA and a Data Specialist for Kentucky’s refugee resettlement community. Most recently, she served as the Midwest Organizing Director with the Young Invincibles. She enjoys the outdoors, the Chicago theatre scene, coaching youth sports, and eating with cousins.
Lauren grew up in a conservative church in Florida where her gay friends were taught that same-sex relationships were sinful, and The Reformation Project was instrumental in making her a more outspoken advocate for LGBT equality in the church. After receiving her Ph.D. from Florida State University where her research focused on gender and sexuality in the development of evangelicalism, she taught college courses in American religion and gender studies, and most recently worked with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on their $12 million endowment campaign. She is passionate about connecting donors to worthy causes, especially ones that advance equality. Lauren lives with her husband, who is a pastor, and young son in Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys reading memoirs, eating at new restaurants, water skiing, snow skiing, traveling to new places, and visiting her nieces in Florida.
Board of Directors
Kathy Baldock is currently the Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, a 501(c)3 organization with a focus on education, encouragement, and engagement between the Christian church and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christian community. As a straight Evangelical Christian ally, her perspective is unique in understanding both sides of the dialogue. With seven years in advocacy work, Kathy has strong relationship connections throughout the U.S. in many LGBT Christian organizations and LGBT rights groups.
Kathy is the mother of two adult, heterosexual children. She has a background in civil engineering, retail business ownership, and technology sales. She understands business plans and networking and brings that strength to The Reformation Project along with her advocacy skills.
Dr. James V. Brownson
Dr. Jim 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, and led worship at TRP in Kansas City. 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 on Twitter at @heyDarren or through his blog, DarrenCalhoun.com.
Kenji Kuramitsu is a writer and Master of Divinity student at Chicago’s McCormick Theological Seminary. He is interested in the study of sacrament, public service, critical mixed race theory, and liberation theologies. Kenji works with queerspawn (the children of LGBTQ parents), residential communities, and diverse faith groups to foster healthy conversations about Christian spirituality and LGBTQ identity. Kenji was raised both Roman Catholic and evangelical, and was received into the Episcopal Church in 2015.
Kenji serves on the Japanese American Citizens League’s national youth student council, where he works to empower other young Nikkei (Japanese in diaspora). He is a co-editor of the Theology of Ferguson anthology, which serves as an online resource for people of faith seeking to faithfully engage with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Kristin Romens is a Senior Consultant for The Learning Agenda, where she leads engagements focused on nonprofit strategy, research and development, and organizational learning. Ms. Romens has over 15 years of experience as a nonprofit leader. Before joining The Learning Agenda, she served as Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Growth at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, where she provided oversight and guidance to a network of 325 affiliates in the areas of research and evaluation, program development, and professional learning. She set the research agenda and program strategy for the network, which serves almost 200,000 children annually, enabling affiliates to improve program quality at scale. Ms. Romens also has wide-ranging experience advising nonprofit leaders as a consultant with the Bridgespan Group. At Bridgespan, she worked with nonprofit clients to develop sustainability and growth plans, professional development and performance management frameworks, and replication strategies. Ms. Romens’ educational background is in the social sciences and law. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and began her career as a human rights attorney, then a litigation associate at the law firm of Wilmer Hale.