St. Louis Conference Honors 'LGBTQIA Saints and Prophets'

by Maria Dominguez


Saturday October 14, 2017

A groundbreaking conference comes to the Marriott St. Louis Airport, located at 10700 Pear Tree Ln. in St. Louis, Mo., from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. "Rolling the Stone Away: Generations of Love and Justice" brings together pro-LGBTQ Christian leaders from Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Metropolitan Community Churches and United Church of Christ communities, as well as attendees of any faith or identity. No matter what one's particular affiliation or background might be, all are welcome to register to attend.

"Rolling the Stone Away," its website declares, is "a conference for LGBTQIA saints and prophets - generations past and present - to honor our history and empower our future." Leaders from 13 different LGBTQ organizations united in planning the conference, the first of its kind in history.

The event is meant to bring together early LGBTQ Christian leaders with today's leaders and activists. Attendees will participate in formal and informal discussions about the past, present and future of the LGBTQ rights movements and the importance of LGBTQ Christians in the work towards progress.

Sessions are broken up into time periods, with leaders from the 1960s/1970s, 1980s/1990s, and 2000s each featured in interview panels each day. Breakout sessions in between will consider topics including transgender identities, engaging the religious right, queer theology, lesbian feminism and organizing communities of color, and many more.

Another compelling plenary event, Stories from the Heart, features attendees recalling their motivations and memories throughout their journeys for justice. Conference speakers include a variety of historical and contemporary LGBTQ Christian leaders and activists.

Some invited attendees and panel participants are: Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches; Rev. Carter Heyward; a trailblazing female Episcopal priest; Bishop Carl Bean, founder of Unity Fellowship; Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop; Mel White, founder of Soulforce; and Rev. Dr. Irene Monroe, a scholar and advocate.

Outside of formal panels, plenty of break time has been scheduled for attendees to engage in informal discussions. These offer the chance for the more-shy participants to ask questions or offer their own experiences in order to contribute to the dialogue around LGBTQ history and progress, as well as its intersection with race, class and gender issues - and more.

"Rolling the Stone Away is bringing together the largest and most diverse coalition of Queer Christian groups ever assembled," said Mark Bowman, Conference Coordinator in a press release. "The energy, spirit and passion growing around this gathering are contagious."

Conference registration is now $330. Registration fee scholarships are available for students, young activists and scholars who choose to apply.

Accommodation rates are $99 per night at the host hotel, the Marriot St. Louis Airport. In order to make the conference more affordable and accessible for participants, organizers are using their Facebook page as a vehicle for attendees to find roommates with whom to split the cost of housing.

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