Sunday, January 30, 2011


In all the busyness of the past month I've become somewhat neglectful where my blog is concerned. Part of that busyness came from attending the Gay Christian Network's annual conference in Denver two weeks ago. This was my sixth GCN conference, so it's an event that's become a significant part of my journey.

Back when I attended my first GCN conference in Orlando, I was still in the process of pulling away from the last ex-gay ministry I was a part of. I already knew a few GCNers from local gatherings and several trips I'd made the previous summer, and they were the first gay people I'd (knowingly) interacted with outside of ex-gay programs. That first conference (and the next) helped me quite a bit as I was learning how to be comfortable in my own skin, and introduced me to a lot of amazing people that, looking back, I couldn't imagine not being a part of my life.

Since then the conferences have, for me, centered around seeing those friends again and making new ones. Not that the programming isn't worthwhile (the conference has had some great speakers over the years, including Jay Bakker, Tony Campolo and Philip Yancey), but it's the relationships that keep me coming back.

Were I just now attending my first conference it's hard to say how the experience would be; 430 people are a lot more daunting to an introvert than 90. Even knowing as many GCNers as I do now, I can only spend so much time in that large a crowd without needing to retreat for a while. All the same, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

GCN certainly isn't for everyone - for many it's too conservative or too liberal, too supportive of either Side A or Side B, too religious or too inclusive. But regardless of where we best fit in, we all have one thing in common: a need for community.

A lot of people who have become disillusioned with the church have retained a belief in God while discarding all institutional forms of religion. I understand the sentiment and can't argue with the fact that the church tends to be a very dysfunctional place. But I don't see how one can hope to cultivate a truly healthy spiritual life without the assistance and encouragement of others who are headed in the same direction.

Hopefully the day will come when the church as a whole has grown to the point that havens like GCN are no longer needed. That day seems to be a long way off, but there are more encouraging signs of change every year. The Body of Christ needs all of its members - perhaps especially the more "unseemly" ones. And wholeness is a dream worth pursuing.

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