The Reformation Project

Leadership Alum

2017 Leadership Development Cohort

 The Reformation Project’s rigorous leadership development program brought together 34 LGBTQ Christians and allies from across the country and around the world in order to:

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  • Spend three months studying the most important scholarly work and debates about the Bible and LGBTQ issues.
  • Enhance their effectiveness as a leader in their local community, and take new initiatives in organizing, networking, and training other Christians.
  • Become friends with remarkable Christians who are passionate about changing the church, advancing LGBTQ inclusion, and showing God’s love to the world.

We assembled a class of reformers that is representative of the body of Christ as a whole, including diversity in age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, geography, nationality, ability, and denomination. They met in Long Beach, California in April of 2017 to begin casting their visions of how to change their non-affirming communities. 

Meet Our 34 Reformers from 2017...

Anthony Aguinaldo

I am an advocate artist who spent his childhood on the island of Puerto Rico and have been living in the city of Chicago for over a decade. Christianity is a way of life that inherently and prophetically challenges the dominant culture in order to help people and their communities flourish. As an artist, I am interested in alternative forms of narrative presentations that drive movements and influence culture, and I feel that politics and religion are not the be-all and end-all for change. I feel called to minister with the young, unchurched, and dechurched folk who are looking for an entry point into community and faith, and I seek to accomplish this by creating spaces where people can find stillness and contemplation. I am passionate about community development, and I hope to study sociology in the Fall with the long-term goal of creating my own unique role within the church. I have been doing my part in shifting this Christian consciousness that enables racism, sexism (homophobia), and xenophobia in our country by studying inclusive theology with an intersectional approach. I've been studying how paradigms of dominance, Christian dogma, and many other factors have colluded to give us the Christianity we see today - the same Christianity that is influencing the American consciousness. This is a lot of homework - hard homework for someone who's never done graduate level work - but it is also necessary work! This cohort experience has made me realize how much damage we've done simply by lacking curiosity and not interrogating where our beliefs come from. My hope is to continue having conversations with folks in my community to spark the kind of curiosity necessary to begin resisting and changing our consciousness. 

Krissi Ashton

Born and raised in NJ, Krissi and her husband have two grown children. She and her family helped to 'plant' a small, inclusive church and she has been an active Alpha course discussion leader for 15 years. Growing up and believing the phrase 'love the sinner, hate the sin' with regard to LGBT people no longer felt sufficient when a close friend’s Christian daughter came out and 'the gay issue' became much more personal.  After much reading, study, discussion and prayer, her understanding of scriptural intent and views began to change.  When her own son came out two years later, she was able to fully embrace him for who he is.  The Reformation Project offers her a place to study and learn more deeply on this topic to become more broadly informed and articulate on affirming and non-affirming views and theology behind LGBT issues. Her vision is to create a safe space for other Christian parents of LGBT kids who are struggling with this issue as it becomes personal.  It can be a lonely journey and is one she would like to help others think through and navigate.   

Katherine Bellamy

My journey of understanding, accepting, and affirming my sexuality has been a complete rollercoaster. Before coming out, I had been studying, chewing on Scripture, and reading any theology book I could get my hands on that both challenged and affirmed my belief that same sex marriage could exist in the Church. Through this process, I came to the understanding that God did in fact love and affirm my sexuality. The Church can be an unwelcoming place to the LGBT community. I experienced this in college after being dismissed from leadership roles and church communities; the wounds still felt fresh years later. I had never been to a Gospel-centered church that felt like home; I was still living a double-life when it came to Christianity long after I shared with close friends that I was part of the LGBT community. God did not lose faith in me, albeit I began to lose my faith in God. God proved to me in the years that followed that nothing can separate me from the love that exists for me in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39) by pursuing me relentlessly. I had finally reached a point where I had nowhere left to turn, only to discover that God had never left my side. I began exploring the Gospel with a new vision and desperation to understand God on an intimate level. I have been on a restorative journey, learning about God’s love for all of God’s image-bearers, including myself. I am passionate and excited to learn about Biblical inclusion, as well as ways to strengthen the relationship between the non-affirming church and the gay Christian. The Reformation Project (TRP) is giving me an opportunity that, if you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have never believed possible. I believe that God uses all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I am ready to lead the way to building bridges between the gay and Christian community, something that I think we can agree is necessary so that all of God’s children can hear the good news of the Gospel. I came out publicly for the first time in 2016 after the Pulse Nightclub shootings took the innocent lives of my gay brothers and sisters (and their allies). I was shocked, hurt, and afraid. I knew that I could no longer stay silent; I wanted to be a voice of hope for the LGBT community that had been told for so long that they were not welcome. I wanted to challenge the non-affirming Church to look at the Bible through a new lens, and I wanted to challenge the idea that LGBT Christians do not have a place in the Church. Thank you for your willingness to go on this journey with me!   

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Bethany Bohlen

Bethany grew up in a variety of evangelical denominations and has previously worked as a church worship leader and parachurch college ministry campus staff. She is a proud Ravenclaw who spends 75% of her life asking too many "why" questions, so she's very excited to learn more deeply as part of the cohort. After experiencing significant pain and loss from trying to participate in Christianity while queer, she is looking forward to learning more about what she can do to make Christianity (and the world) fully inclusive for LGBTQ people like herself. She uses she/her pronouns and identifies as bisexual. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, where she works in media and communications and lives with her partner and two dogs. Your support will allow her to participate in the Reformation Project's Leadership Development Cohort, where she's already had her mind blown and her heart grown. In the first weeks of the cohort, she's taken steps toward confronting her trauma from #intervarsitypurge, thought more richly about her biracial/hapa/white/Asian identity, studied theology deeply from all angles, participated thoughtfully in online discussions about readings, and met fellow cohort members who are making her feel like she has a tribe again. Your support goes toward program costs, especially for traveling to LA for the cohort's mini-conference in April. Thanks for doing what you can to make this amazing process possible!

Jonathan Brower

Jonathan Brower is a born and raised bilingual Canadian who grew up in Calgary, Alberta and is now based out of St Catharines, Ontario. He is a playwright, producer, actor, director and musician. Jonathan pursues arts as a vehicle for education and activism. Initially called to full time ministry, Jonathan received pastoral training through Calvary Chapel and was involved in Youth With a Mission, Power to Change and Living Waters. After coming out in 2012, he returned to university to complete his degrees in Drama and Communications, eventually co-founding Third Street Theatre Society, dedicated to the positive reflection of queer culture, stories and voices on stage and in communities. His struggle accepting himself as a gay Christian led him to create oblivion, a play and open forum that expands the conversation about the challenge of reconciling faith and sexuality. oblivion tours as a resource for communities interested in becoming affirming.

Shari Cathcart

Shari Cathcart is in her fifteenth year of teaching choir at Clarksville Public School in Clarksville, Arkansas. She's been blessed to teach many students over the years, making a positive contribution into their lives through the joy of music and the love of a choir family. Shari's students affectionately call her CaThor or Mama C. Shari is also the proud mother of a rambunctious and creative six-year-old boy, Joey. They enjoy swimming together, playing ukuleles, swords and laser tag, along with many other adventures guided by their imagination. When Shari isn't teaching or spending time with Joey, she can be found reading, kickboxing, watching Netflix, cooking, singing and playing the piano, saxophone or ukulele. She is a vegetarian and animal lover. Two dogs, one cat, one turtle and three fish keep their home bustling. Shari was privileged to grow up in a God-focused and loving home. She gave her life to Jesus at a very young age and was called into the ministry in her early teens. Shari has been an active worship leader and Bible teacher in a variety of Evangelical, Charismatic and Non-Denominational churches through the years. Coming from the perspective of a person who was asked to step down from church leadership when she came out to her pastors as a lesbian, Shari is passionate about advocating for the inclusion of LGBT Christians within the church.

 

Haley Cawthon

Haley grew up in the Church and the Church has been an integral part of Haley’s life. She believes that as the people of God, the Church is to be a place of love for all—regardless of any descriptors that we place on people. She believes that the Church is to embody the love of Christ and is to show that love to everyone. She believes that God loves everyone holistically and that we are to follow in that example. Haley has a passion for bridging the gap between academic theology and pastoral ministry. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and Philosophy & Religion from Piedmont College in Demorest, GA (2013), a Masters of Divinity from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, GA (2016), and plans to begin her doctoral work in the near future. Haley and her partner serve on the staff of Reforming Church in St Petersburg, FL.

Alyssa Crowley

Alyssa Crowley is a queer Catholic-Christian woman born and raised in Southern California, and a recent graduate of UCLA with a major in Applied Linguistics and minors in Spanish and Anthropology. At UCLA Alyssa became very involved with her faith community there, serving as a Student Leader for the University Catholic Center on the Social Justice Committee, as well as the Co-chair of Cornerstone, the Catholic Center’s LGBT+ group. Alyssa is now living in Atlanta, Georgia as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Through JVC, Alyssa works for Catholic Charities in the adult education program teaching English Language classes. In the future Alyssa hopes to pursue graduate studies in linguistics to explore the relationship of language and identity, as well as to continue to work for LGBT inclusion within the Catholic Community. She is extremely excited to grow and learn with the Leadership Cohort!

Jeffry Faircloth

Jeffry Faircloth lives in Houston, Texas where he is very involved in the LGBT community. Jeffry has sat on the board of directors for PFLAG Houston since 2012, serving as co-president between 2014 to 2016. He also serves on Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's LGBTQ Advisory Board and on the Davidson HATCH Youth Services Committee, which oversees a program that provides a safe place for LGBT youth who are just coming out. A recent graduate of University of Houston, Jeffry plans to attend seminary for graduate school to study Biblical scholarship and theology. He believes in a world in which the lived experiences of as many human beings as possible are maximized to fullest capacity. In his personal time, Jeffry is a lover of The Wizard of Oz and all things Judy Garland and loves 80's music very much.

Erica Ferguson

Erica Ferguson became inspired to join the Reformation Project through her background in collegiate athletics where she played basketball at William Jewell College. She finished as a Honorable Mention All-American and then continued her career in collegiate athletics. Ferguson served as a strength & conditioning coach, assistant women's basketball coach, and director of basketball operations in Missouri and Georgia. Cultivating her faith as a Christian, she saw the need to understand the cross section of faith, athletics, and sexuality. She witnessed in her own experiences, as well as in the student athletes she served, the struggle between these three identities. Ferguson hopes to help bridge the gaps, learn more about resources, and bring an understanding of faith to communities that are in need of support on this topic. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA where she is a member of Passion City Church and works corporately for Kale Me Crazy.

Karrie Fletcher

Karrie is a native Oklahoman and currently lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. She works at Texas Woman’s University where she has been mentoring college students for over 18 years. She has been involved in ministry on a voluntary basis for many years leading Bible studies and small groups.      

After spending 14 years trying to change her sexuality, Karrie came out as a gay Christian this past year. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and her passion is to walk along beside anyone who desires a relationship with Jesus Christ. She believes the local church is a family and her hope is that one day the LGBT community will be fully welcome in all churches where they can grow their faith and serve in their full potential as Christ-followers.  

Karrie is excited to be involved in the Reformation Project where she can learn more about faith, sexuality, racial justice, intersectionality, and more.  

Ashlynn Frandsen

Ashlynn Frandsen is a bisexual, Native American mother in the San Francisco bay area who has earned long standing respect in the arts community. She has made her career path to shed light on those who are otherwise ignored, and she actively serves as a strong advocate for justice and equality among underrepresented and marginalized populations. Her tenacious personality, in combination with her focus and drive, make a marked difference in the world. Her goal is to help create a world wherein all people, especially children and including LGBTQ + inclusive, have a safe place to thrive. Ashlynn offers compassion and support to anyone who is down on their luck. Ashlyn is a recognized spiritual leader both within the Christian church and in Native American ceremonies. She often networks within multiple communities to provide resources for the homeless. Historically, Ashlynn recovered from drug addiction and survived homelessness thirteen years ago. Due to her personal triumph over these struggles, she is fueled by the belief in not forgetting where one originates from; and that reaching back to assist those who still suffer she commits a sacred act that in turn heals the entire community and uplifts us all.

Shen Heckel

Shen Heckel is a Los Angeles based theatre artist. He is what you would call a cradle to grave Catholic-Christian. He has served as an RCIA Catechist for the past six years at the University Catholic Center (UCC) at UCLA. He loves being that unexpected face welcoming people to the church. It's not too often you see a transman teaching the traditions and history of the Catholic faith. Before that, he was a student at UCLA's Theatre School and a member of the UCC's choir, Cornerstone (the LGBT+ inclusion group), Student Leadership Team, and Bible study group, all while also running a student theatre company on campus. Throughout his life Heckel has made theatre and church his safe haven. He hopes to someday bring back that safe feeling to all LGBT+ people of faith through his work in theatre. He is currently juggling freelance theatre work, playwriting, and directing. Heckel believes that being a member of the Cohort will help strengthen his voice for LGBT+ inclusion within the church and finally give him the right tools to create theatre that spreads this knowledge and promotes the inclusion of all God’s people.

Elizabeth Henry

After studying social work as an undergrad at Baylor University and earning my MDiv from Duke Divinity and my MSW from UNC- Chapel Hill, Elizabeth has had the rare privilege of coming home to Mississippi to serve the church that raised her. It's a huge treat for her to be Pastor Elizabeth to the next generation as the children's minister, and relaxing with the grown ups as the church's resident yoga instructor, teaching classes twice a week. In addition to spending time with her husband, Matthew, and our two cats (named after an obscure Harry Potter character and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s beloved Alexander Hamilton, respectively), she also enjoy cleverly worded novels, strong female leads, fluffy pop music, and fighting for social justice.

Sarah Hurliman

Sarah Hurliman is a coffee drinker, book lover, and Midwesterner. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her dog, Henry. Sarah has been part of many different churches and denominations, attended two Christian colleges, and worked in church and parachurch ministries. Almost all of the communities she has been part of have experienced divisions over LGBTQ inclusion. Over time, Sarah has grown passionate about affirming and including LGBTQ individuals in the life of the church. She is excited to be part of the 2017 cohort, to grow in her advocacy for marginalized groups, and to deepen her understanding of intersectional social justice.

Hannah Johnston

Hannah Johnston is currently Social Justice and Pastoral Care Coordinator at St Lydia’s Dinner Church - a progressive, LGBTQ-affirming congregation in Brooklyn. Hannah was born and raised in the UK, and her background is in British charismatic evangelicalism. She is a graduate of St. Mellitus College, a Church of England (Anglican) seminary in London.

Before moving to the US in 2014, Hannah worked for a small but diverse Church on a public housing estate in West London, where she was responsible for community organizing and communications. She previously worked for several years in the fashion industry as a stylist/personal shopper, and also has a background in affordable housing and welfare.

Hannah is passionate about making church inclusive, creating fun and caring communities, empowering women, and working with people of other faiths. She lives with her husband and two cats in Brooklyn. She loves hot weather, interesting ideas and conversations, wine, singing, and anything with melted cheese.

 

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Amanda Kerr

Amanda Kerr is a second-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is originally from Charlotte, NC, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at N.C. State. Amanda is currently interning with First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, N.C. and also works part-time as their Youth and Family Program Coordinator.

Amanda often refers to herself as a “recovering know-it-all”, and she loves to engage theological and social “dichotomies” of sacred and secular, conservative and progressive. Amanda believes our greatest hope for encountering the Divine is by lifting up the voices of the marginalized and oppressed, making space for important conversations in our faith communities.

In her free time Amanda enjoys being outside, throwing the frisbee, and visiting local breweries. She is almost a 50/50 balance of extrovert and introvert, enjoying time with friends as well as quiet afternoons with her journal and a good book.

 

Taylor Lampe

Taylor grew up in Indiana and graduated from Purdue University with a Biology degree. Baptized Catholic and raised Methodist, she spent her college years in a non-denominational community, where she first started coming out. Taylor is now in her second year of the Episcopal Service Corps in Atlanta: a program of service, intentional community, and spiritual discernment. She works at an interfaith environmental non-profit and previously worked in affordable housing. Taylor in interested in mobilizing faith communities for direct action in social movements. She is excited to further develop dialoguing and organizing skills to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church. Taylor plans to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Global/Social Epidemiology, addressing systemic oppressions through population health work. You can usually find her reading, playing music, biking, attending lectures, or spending time with friends.

Ceri Anne Lewis

Ceri Anne Lewis is a Christian transgender woman, and parent of two adult kids, Kevin and Kaitlin. Ceri (pronounced Carrie) lives in the Kansas City area, but was raised in Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota. As a Navy Veteran she has been stationed in Norfolk, VA, San Diego, CA, Pensacola, and Key West, FL. Ceri grew up in a family of Evangelical ministers. In the process of reconciling her faith with being transgender, she was called to help others struggling with the suffering the church has been causing LGBT people. She currently attends UMC Church of the Resurrection. Professionally, Ceri has worked in photography her whole life, beginning with newspapers, then Naval intelligence, studio, dance and theater. She’s been in the technical, photo science side of photography for the last 27 years. She has a long history working as a Scout, and Church youth leader, having led many youth missions to Mexico. Her passions include travel, music, motorcycles, and the outdoors.

Joyce Lin

Joyce is on a quest to learn as much as she can about the world. She grew up in Taichung, Taiwan (proudly brewing boba tea since its inception), and she currently lives in the heart of Los Angeles, California. As an engineer and project manager, she asks too many questions and tries to break stuff so she can make them better. She is a queer woman who loves Jesus, and she is sticking around the Church and working towards making it a fully LGBTQ affirming space. She enjoys museums, dance parties, and taking the perfect jump pic. She occasionally tweets @joyceclin.

Rika Lively

Rika Lively is a recent college graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. For five years she worked with the church in various ministries, including student, mission, music, college and adult ministries. She has led and trained international mission teams to the Bahamas and Haiti and has a heart for working with orphans and at-risk youth. After coming out as gay, she was asked to step down from leadership and lost her position in ministry. For a while, Rika thought her chance to serve in ministry was over and that she'd have to find a new passion. However, after learning about The Reformation Project and the work that it does, she realized God wasn't done with her or the Church's relationship with the LGBT community. That is why she is dedicating her time and energy to this leadership cohort - this opportunity will help her in seeing her vision of connecting LGBT members with the church. She believes God has a place for ministry for her and all other LGBT people. Until then, Rika has her eyes set on seminary, and is currently doing freelance graphic design and working at a local toy store. Rika spends time with her fiancé, Meaghan, listening to Hamilton, playing Nintendo games and playing with their dog, Hercules. 

Sarah Lythe

Sarah Lythe grew up in England, became a nurse, got married and had two children. Her husband’s job took them to Belgium and then the USA where they have lived for 19 years. As an alien resident, she was unable to work for several years so she volunteered for the Ambulance squad, becoming an EMT and began helping her husband lead the church they planted. They became citizens two years ago and her children both got married recently. Sarah is passionate about helping to create a church where all feel able to express who they are and creating community in their neighborhood. She loves to paleo bake, take care of her two dogs and has recently started CrossFit to stay in shape. Sarah would love to be able to support other Christian parents who have a LGBTQ child and that is why she is seeking to equip herself through the Leadership Development Cohort.

Logan Paiste

Logan Paiste is an undergraduate student at Penn State. This year, he is working at Penn State University Park’s LGBTQA Student Resource Center, where he serves as the Community Outreach intern. In addition, he is one of the founding members of Receiving with Thanksgiving, which is Penn State’s only LGBTQA-inclusive Christian organization. Logan sees himself as a bridge builder and a lifelong learner. He is enthusiastic about meeting people with different perspectives as well as facilitating cross-cultural dialogue and conflict resolution. For fun, Logan enjoys learning new languages, both ancient and modern. As of December 2016, he has received university credit for 10 different foreign languages! Additionally, Logan is an avid recycler and loves cooking and baking. Upon his graduation in December 2017, Logan plans to move to Los Angeles where he intends to pursue his Masters of Divinity while building his ministry of reconciliation and dialogue between Christians and the LGBTQ+ community.

Jenny Rain

Jenny has 25 years of experience in training and marketing. She recently completed her first book and her hope is that this book will change the partisan and theologically-charged conversation around LGBT families to be less combative and more redemptive. Her passion for serving the LGBT community began in the 70's when her biological father met his now husband. Watching her dads fight for equality and a voice in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, as well as personally experiencing prejudice because her family looked different sparked Jenny's passion for advocating for other LGBT families like hers. She joins the Reformation Project 2017 LA Cohort to learn how to build bridges between the church and LGBT families in a manner that promotes true reconciliation, healing, and allows for the full inclusion of LGBT families into the life of every church community. Jenny served on the board of One Million Kids, whose mission is to engage, educate, and empower LGBT youth and children of LGBT parents with a voice around equality. She is a member of Family Equality Council’s “Outspoken Generation” and was a speaker at the national Communications conference “Simply Communicate.” Jenny participates in women’s empowerment initiatives in the U.S. and Africa. Her work helps stamp out the marginalization of women from atrocities such as domestic violence, trafficking, and bonded servitude. She has a BA from University of Iowa, and graduated with honors from McAfee School of Theology. She is the former Communications Director at a multisite megachurch in DC, spends lots of time snuggling with her pit-bull Pinkerton Moose, and is currently traversing the U.S. to create a new home closer to her dads in Palm Springs, CA! 

Heidi Riley

Having lived many years at both ends of the Bible Belt, Heidi Riley is highly invested in the conservative, Evangelical church in America. Heidi worked for six years part and full time in parachurch ministries, and the people sheI worked with and served during that time challenged and nurtured her in Christ more than she knew possible. Heidi is forever grateful to these brothers and sisters for charging her to share the Gospel even in the midst of her angsty questions about what it means to be a Christian and gay at the same time. Heidi loves Jesus, and loves His Church. One of her greatest desires is for us not to be fragmented over questions about orientation and sexuality, and is pleased to be part of the Leadership Development Cohort this year in order to learn how to better bridge our perceived gaps. Heidi hopes and prays these efforts will hand down a faithful tradition to the Church that comes after us so that we may glorify Christ as one as He commands.

Bethany Rodriguez

Bethany Rodriguez grew up just outside of NYC and currently resides in Queens, NY. She grew up the second of four children, was raised within a non-denominational church since the age of one and is the daughter of the associate pastor. She has previously served in the children’s and youth ministries. With a greater heart for music, she now serves in the choir, ensemble and worship team. She received her clinical doctorate in physical therapy in 2014 from Hunter College and currently works in the NYC school system with children in grades K-12. Since accepting herself as a queer person and recently coming out to family, she is excited to be a bridge builder for LGBT inclusion within her conservative community. Other miscellaneous things that make her heart skip a beat are live music, coffee, spinning records and enjoying craft beer with friends. 

Justin Siu

Justin is a gay-identifying first-generation Chinese American born and raised in Los Angeles. Midst much of the segregated diversity in LA, he was surrounded by a predominantly Asian community most of his life where traditional Asian culture further heightened the taboo of being a sexual minority within a conservative religious community. He struggled with severe depression throughout adolescence, wrestling with homophobia in his community and feeling hopeless from what seemed like hopeless condemnation in Christianity. In college, he began to initiate the social change he wanted to see on campus, and began unpacking the Scriptural topic of homosexuality with an increased critical eye. As a follower of Christ, social activist, and future physician/healthcare leader, Justin is determined to engage his passions and talents in creating healthy communities that are educated on this paramount Scriptural topic. 

Sara Smith

Sara Magee Smith began researching what the Bible really says about homosexuality when an extended family member drank himself to death.  After his death, it became known he had lived his entire life as a closeted gay man, and some of his more painful tales suddenly made sense.  His story is hardly unique.  Sara was raised deep within conservative Christianity: baptized at age 10, graduating from Westminster Christian Academy, and then from Wheaton College. Her biological family are all old-school Southern Baptists from the deep south (she still loves crawfish jambalaya!).  Sara gradually became convinced our existing Biblical beliefs around LGBT persons were deeply flawed.  Where was the “abundant life” Jesus promised in John 10:10?  Where were the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – found in Galatians 5:22?  She is excited to participate in the Leadership Cohort to learn better skills in advocating full Biblical inclusion! 

Lauren Ileana Sotolongo

Lauren Sotolongo grew up in a family of Cuban refugees, who established themselves as educators, public service professionals, and active church leaders in Southern California. With a familial passion of public service instilled at a young age, she found the intersection of her own passions, within faith and social justice issues, at the heart of creative expression. As a former social worker and education professional, Lauren is passionate about the communal and individual experience of hope within contexts of suffering. As a graduate of a Christian University, a member of the LGBTQ community, and a writer, she is passionate about communicating those experiences. Lauren currently resides in Washington, DC, is a proud Tía to four bright-eyed revolutionaries, and can usually be found brewing coffee at a local roastery, or eating oreos. Her favorite colors are orange and purple.

Vickie Spivey

Vickie Spivey is from Eatonton, Georgia and currently works with two non-profit art organizations as she reworks her own photography business. As a closeted bisexual woman living in the South, she has grown accustomed to hiding her true self to the world and sadly that simply has kept her at an arm’s length from living her truest life. Now that the cat is out of the closet, she has found life to be more honest, peaceful, and fufilling. Vickie has seen throughout her life as the phrase goes, ‘God is so faithful to wreck your plans before they wreck you,’ and experienced them as signals of God’s commitment to her in helping her live a life that no longer holds hidden spaces and attempts to keep her truest self from the world. God is faithful to her sanctification and she feels fairly certain that the Leadership Development Cohort will play a huge role in her growing in love and truth.