The idea for the whole series - and this presentation especially - came from many conversations that Eli and I had about being a LGBTQ Christian. At our former church I had helped bring into being a series of one-day conferences to try to help Christian students engage faithfully with real-life issues, and Eli would press me to try to focus one of those events on LGBTQ acceptance and ministry. Our conversations usually ended with some version of the phrase, "In your dreams" - we knew that our pastoral staff were not likely to be open to fresh thinking on this matter, however deep its theological grounding might be. But we did get as far as preparing a list of speakers, in case our dreams might someday come to fruition.
After our child's death Liane and I thought again about those dreams and that list. While taking a walk with friends along the high ridges behind State College which he loved,we opened our hearts to Ben Wideman, pastor to Third Way Collective and to Receiving with Thanksgiving, the group that Eli helped found. With the other RwT students we felt a call to try to make Eli's dream a reality, though we felt that a speaker series made more sense than a one-day event. There were four names at the top of Eli's list: Justin Lee, David Gushee, Allyson Robinson, Austen Hartke. We contacted them, thinking we might get a couple of acceptances. Every single one responded withe an immediate "yes". That's when we knew something was afoot.
So now the series is over. I continue to mourn - on this Holy Saturday, I continue to wait for the One who will make all things new. But I am glad also that out of our grief have come some resources which can continue to bless others - the video above and its two predecessors - as well as what would have made Eli's heart glad, a loud and unapologetic shout-out to queer people of faith on Penn State's campus.
Easter blessings to PoI readers (including all my atheist and other non-Christian friends, if you are graciously willing to receive them)