SAN FRANCISCO – Mormon Stories, a nonprofit support community that seeks to create safe spaces where all Mormons can express themselves authentically, this weekend will present the San Francisco “Circling the Wagons” conference for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their friends, families and allies.
Church leaders and ward congregation members are welcome. The conference will be held from noon to 6:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 11, at St. Cyprian’s Church at 2097 Turk Street (at Lyon) in San Francisco. Registrations are now being accepted HERE.
Mormon Stories “Circling the Wagons” conferences seek to create a space where LGBTQ or SSA individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences.
The inaugural Mormon Stories “Circling the Wagons” conference held in Salt Lake City in November 2011 garnered national media attention thanks to Bishop Kevin Kloosterman’s courageous public advocacy for Mormons everywhere to open their hearts to their gay brothers and sisters.
“Who we love and how we understand and honor God are deep, personal issues that carry an especially profound weight in Mormon communities,” said Joanna Brooks, president of Mormon Stories. “Same-sex attraction has been the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, judgment and hurt and has divided gay Mormons over how to address same-sex attraction and negotiate the choices they face.”
“In convening this conference,” said Mormon Stories regional communities organizer Anne Peffer, “We are inviting LGBTQ and SSA Mormons and their families and allies to step beyond historic divisions and come together to share their life-experiences authentically and respectfully.”
Keynote speakers Don Fletcher and Mitch Mayne serve together in the leadership of their Bay area ward. Fletcher serves as bishop, the highest office in a Mormon congregation. Mayne is openly gay and serves as Fletcher’s executive secretary, a position usually reserved for straight Mormon men. Speaker Carol Lynn Pearson is the acclaimed author of No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones. Pearson, a long time straight advocate for gay Mormons, will be addressing her own experiences as a straight spouse of a gay Mormon. Social worker Dr. Caitlin Ryan is the director of the Family Acceptance Project and just released an evidence-based booklet intended to help Mormon leaders and family members respond to LGBTQ youth in a manner that keeps youth safe and families intact.
The most popular session of Mormon Stories conferences is the closing Story Sharing Meeting conducted in the spiritual tradition of Mormon testimony meetings. At the San Francisco “Circling the Wagons” conference, as at all Mormon Stories conferences, the microphone will be open to attendees for the sharing of their thoughts, feelings, life-experiences and beliefs. During past “Circling the Wagons” Story Sharing Meetings, attendees have openly and authentically shared their journeys in regards to sexuality, belief and Mormonism. Stories will be recorded and podcasted.
The conference and a Sunday Interfaith Service featuring Michael Pappas, executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, will be held in the historic St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, a congregation rooted in African American and Caribbean experiences and commended by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for its progressive vision of community inclusiveness.