California Lutheran University students travelled to the Queer Fellowship Conference, which works to be inclusive of LGBTQ Christian members in Denver, Colorado Jan 18.
Over the last three years, Cal Lutheran students have attended the conference and this year PRIDE took three students to the 2018 Queer Fellowship Conference.
At the conference, it was announced that the name of the organization would be changed from “Queer Christian Fellowship” to “Q Christian Fellowship.” According to their website, this is the second year that the name has changed as the group was founded with the name “Gay Christian Network.”
“The reason for the name change was to be equal and more broad in their self-understanding. It also predicated on awareness of the bandwidth to which they pay attention to,” said Cal Lutheran Pastor Scott Maxwell-Doherty.
Q Christian Fellowship Interim Executive Director Isaac Archuleta said in an announcement on the website that name changes follow an “intensive process of discernment, reflection, and investigation.”
The “Q” will now stand for LGBTQ, as a “cue” to rise up in the community, as a recognizable symbol of the Christian community and as a stand-in for the word “questions.”
Activities at the conference included service projects, Bible study, a vigil against LGBTQ violence, karaoke and a family acceptance project.
At the event, keynote speakers included Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder, Rev. Asher O’Callaghan and Julie Rodgers.
A panel titled “The Imago Dei: Created for Relationships” created a dialogue for healthy relationships built under the scripture.
“It’s amazing to hear that the conference used scripture in such a positive way,” said attendee Cal Lutheran junior Jennifer Padilla. “As I’ve gotten closer to my faith, I’ve realized that there is no one right way to be religious.”
Maxwell-Doherty said this was a public event where students came back all feeling welcomed.
“[The conference] has always been about providing for individuals from the queer community who know themselves to be Christian, to find a gathering place where their voices are heard, where their sentiments are understood and where there’s a great and palpable experience of inclusion,” Maxwell-Doherty said.
Maxwell-Doherty said that students who attended said it was good to be among members of their own tribe.
“One of the hallmarks of Lutheran theology is a very robust understanding of a gracious God who loves us in an incredibly unfiltered way. By that I mean, I don’t have to be a certain way, act a certain way or look a certain way to be a recipient of God’s love,” Maxwell-Doherty said.
Padilla shared how the conference impacted her views on Cal Lutheran.
“CLU has gone above and beyond by providing us with the opportunity to go all the way to Colorado for this conference,” Padilla said. “It shows that we are not only inclusive, but we want to change the world of religion, community and LGBTQ.”
Maxwell-Doherty said that several years back, the President of Cal Lutheran’s PRIDE Club heard about the Queer Fellowship Conference and asked if funding was available for them to go.
He worked with a donor who put funding towards these types of ministry efforts. He said that it became very easy to say yes to the conference.
“It will continue as long as a set of students walk in the office door and say, ‘can we do this?’ Then my job is trying to figure out a way to make this happen,” Maxwell-Doherty said.