The Reformation Project hosts sixth national LGBTQ Inclusion Conference in downtown Orlando

By : Jaime Donelson
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ORLANDO | LGBTQ Christians, theologians and allies will gather for worship and education on inclusion in the church at the Reformation Project’s sixth annual LGBTQ Inclusion Conference at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Orlando Oct. 18-20.

The Reformation Project is a Bible-based, nonprofit Christian organization that works to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups in the church. They focus on reforming the church’s teachings on sexual orientation and gender identity.The Reformation Project was founded by author Matthew Vines in 2013.

Shae Washington, the group’s programs and organizing director, believes the conference gives queer people the opportunity to be recognized in the church. “We’ve had too many lives lost and have had too many people pushed away [from the church that] feel completely unwelcomed,” Washington says. “It’s causing detrimental harm to our community.”

The Reformation Project works to break stereotypes and to push for inclusion of LGBTQ members, says Washington.

“There is a very vibrant queer, Christian community. It is possible to find; it can take some time, but there are spaces where that’s happening,” she says.
According to Washington, the conference will feature first-rate teachings and workshops from leading biblical scholars and theologians to help attendees learn how to talk about the Bible and LGBTQ inclusion.

Workshops include activism and organizing, family and community, LGBTQIA+ margins, racial justice and theology workshops.They will also feature four featured speakers before a closing worship ceremony.

Rev. Brit Barron, who is a pastor at New Abbey Church in Pasadena, Calif., and a spiritual director at The Christian Closet, an online counselling practice for LGBTQ Christians, will be the keynote speaker on Friday, Oct. 19.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, “Mama” Tammye and son Myles Hicks will be the event’s speakers. Tammye and Myles Hicks are best known for their appearance in the second season of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”

During the episode, Tammye Hicks told the story of how she struggled to accept her son because of her faith. In the end, she proclaims her love for him, the LGBTQ community and her faith to the entire church.

Myles Hicks is a full-time funeral director’s apprentice with aspirations of opening a funeral home committed to serving members of the LGBTQ community and HIV/AIDS victims. On “Queer Eye,” viewers watched his journey back to his mother’s church. Washington says that the story of the Hicks’ family is something a lot of LGBTQ Christians can relate to.

Rev. Stanley Ramos, who is an associate pastor at Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando, will be the keynote speaker on Sunday, Oct. 21. His ministry focuses on the Latinx LGBTQ community of Central Florida.

The Reformation Project also announced via social media that one of their community partners, QLatinx, will erect a Pulse Ofrenda – a memorial alter meaning “offering” in Spanish – to honor the victims of the Pulse tragedy in their serenity room.

“It’s to honor their spirits and the lives lost. Our people will be able to interact with the Ofrenda to pray and reflect on the lives. It’s a time to bring laughter and love in the space as well as a celebration of the spirits,” says Washington.

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