Parity presents our next Be the Hope conference / retreat:

March 22-24, 2018
Chicago, Illinois 

Hosted by McCormick Theological Seminary and made possible
by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation

 A conference / retreat to celebrate and share the gifts of LGBTQ people of faith

With special guest speakers -- The Rev. Elly Mendez Angulo from Hartford, Connecticut, Pastor Rich Havard of Chicago, Father Shannon Kearns from Minneapolis, The Rev. Phiwa Langeni from Lansing, Michigan, and featured keynote speaker, The Rev. Elizabeth Edman from New York City.  


Parity invites seminarians, clergy, academics, LGBTQ people of faith, allies and the LGBTQ Faith Curious to this conference with optional retreat which will:

Featured keynote by The Rev. Elizabeth Edman, author of Queer Virtue

Featured keynote by
The Rev. Elizabeth Edman, author of Queer Virtue

Empower emerging and seated LGBTQ and allied faith leaders through cutting edge instruction in timely topics to enrich their ministry;

Connect faith leaders and allies with local and national leaders and organizations for increased impact, mutual support, collaboration and LGBTQ faith community strengthening;

Highlight LGBTQ faith leaders and their work to instruct and inspire attendees and allies with the latest, visionary theories, discoveries and strategies.

After attending Be the Hope, participants will have new knowledge of such contemporary faith topics as:

  • “Queer” as a lens and catalyst for faith
  • LGBTQ/social justice intersections and why understanding them is foundational
  • Transgender issues in faith, spirituality and religion

Attendees will gain techniques and skills to:

  • Expand and deepen personal and community ministries
  • Advance LGBTQ ministry and social justice efforts
  • Forge new connections and relationships with leaders and groups, locally and nationally, for sustained communication and collaboration


Attendees may choose a conference-only option or a full-retreat option.

  • The conference-only option ($125) includes all workshops, plus Thursday evening refreshments, Friday breakfast, lunch and snacks, and Saturday breakfast and snacks.
  • The full-retreat option ($400) includes all of the above, as well as lodging, an individual meeting with the retreat leader, and special retreat activities on Thursday evening, Friday morning and evening, and Saturday morning, with an option for continued mentoring and community support.

A limited number of scholarships are available for this event. Parity also helps attendees fundraise to cover the cost of attendance and transportation. Our goal is to support each and every person to attend our retreats and conferences--it wouldn't be the same without you!

Be the Hope Roadmap

Thursday:  Hello, Chicago! 

6:30 - 8:00 pm
Opening Night Reception
The Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity, hosts this casual, fun evening that will give us a chance to meet one other and talk with representatives of local and national LGBTQ faith and allied organizations.

Friday:  Foundations, Successes and Challenges

8:00 - 8:30 am ~ Breakfast

8:30 - 9:45 am
Rev. Elivette (Elly) Mendez Angulo
Identity Bowling: Beyond the Frontera to Intersectionality

What says welcome more than an invitation to BOWL together? But what if I have no idea what “bowl” means? In this session, we will discuss the importance of cultural competency, language and music as forms of authentic welcome. This workshop will help attendees be better informed on how barriers of exclusion intersect. Participants might leave tender, but energized.

9:45-10:00 am ~ Break

9:45 - 11:00 am
Father Shannon T.L. Kearns
Subversive Stories: Queering Scripture and the Power of Personal Narrative

For too long in the Christian tradition, marginalized people have felt that they needed to use Scripture to defend their right to exist. But what if there is another way to approach Scripture that allows us to re-imagine it with transgender identities in mind? How does this re-imagining both give agency and strength to transgender people and also aid in the movement for justice? In this presentation, Father Shannon TL Kearns weaves his personal narrative of coming out and transitioning with theological reflections on the life of Jesus and how the two stories can inform and deepen one another. He will speak about the power of storytelling to empower people, and to change hearts and minds.

11:00 - 11:15 am ~ Break  
11:15 - 11:45 am ~ Workgroups: Naming Our Successes
11:45 am - 12:00 pm~ Facilitated Group Discussion
12:00 - 1:00 pm ~ Lunch

1:00 - 2:30 pm ~ Keynote
Rev. Elizabeth Edman: Queer Virtue

2:30 - 2:45 ~ Break
2:45 - 4:15 ~ Workgroups:  Challenges, Personal and Community
4:15 - 5:00 ~ Facilitated Group Discussion
Break, then meet for dinner and pub theology

Saturday:  Religion, Faith and Spirituality, Queered:  The New Frontier

8:00 - 8:30 am ~ Breakfast
8:30 - 9:45 am
Rev. Phiwa Langeni
A New Frontier:  Queer Ministry that Celebrates Wholeness in Conflicted Times      

Everyone comes from somewhere, unique with diversity in experiences that span age and cultures. One ought not to have to diminish any aspect of self for the sake of community. For queer people of color, for example, if they want to be in religious spaces, and to keep their queerness intact, they often have to be in primarily white spaces and tone down their blackness. If they want to be unapologetically black in religious spaces, they often have to check their queerness at the door. When they’re in queer spaces, it has become necessary to squelch their religious identity because of the harm and violence done in the name of religion/Christianity. Phiwa had never experienced a church where they could bring their full self, but from this experience they have created a new way to minister with LGBTQ people.

9:45 - 10:00 am ~ Break
10:00 -10:45 am ~ Facilitated Group Discussion:  Living Boldly as a Queer Person of Faith
10:45 - 11:00 am ~ Break
11:00 - 11:45 am ~ Closing Worship

Retreat component:
Lodging, an individual meeting with retreat leader and group activities

Thursday evening (after) reception:  "Getting to know you" group activity, 90 minutes
Friday 7:30 - 8:15 am: Prayer walk / queer theology discussion
Friday evening (after pub theology): Group reflection
Saturday 7:30 - 8:15 am: Prayer walk / queer theology discussion
Saturday after worship: Final group goodbyes
Optional virtual mentoring / community activities continue