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Feb  2010 10
Beyond Apologetics Symposium

Six nationally known scholars and pastors will propose new ways of thinking about ministry with transgendered, bisexual, lesbian and gay people during a public symposium at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Tabbernee Conference Center of Phillips Theological Seminary, 901 N. Mingo Road in Tulsa.  

Speakers will present summaries of their scholarly work and describe its importance to BLTG people, congregations, and the broader community. Topics include the dynamics of the “closet” in church settings, internalized homophobia and sexual shame, transgender experience as a resource for pastoral care, bisexual embodiment, and contextual care with GLBT-identified people.

There will be time for questions and discussion. The symposium is free and open to the public.  

The event is part of a larger project titled Beyond Apologetics: Sexual Identity, Pastoral Theology, and Pastoral Practices, which brings together 12 North American scholars and pastors to begin creating a new generation of thought and practice for ministry with GLBT people.

“We are creating conversations among scholars, ministry professionals, and broader communities who share concerns about the health and well-being of LGBT people,” said Duane Bidwell, a former member of the Phillips faculty and currently on faculty at the Claremont School of Theology in California, who co-directs the project with Joretta Marshall of Brite Divinity School.

“Congregations can access a lot of resources that offer an ‘apologetics of inclusion’ for involving GLBT persons in the life of the church without condemning them,” he said.

“We want to move beyond arguments for inclusion to arguments for engagement. Pastors and others need theological stances and practices that take the experiences of GLBT persons seriously, so that those experiences shape the life of congregations and denominations.

“Our primary goal is to help spiritual caregivers and others engage in meaningful, informed, and proactive ministry with GLBT people.”

To that end, the project will contribute to pro-active pastoral care texts and models of education for seminaries, local congregations and pastoral care specialists, including mental-health professionals who integrate spirituality into their work.

The project was initiated by researchers at two Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seminaries—Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK and Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX. Financial support is provided by the Carpenter Foundation.

Bidwell said “Beyond Apologetics” will create practical theologies that acknowledge and integrate GLBT experiences, theologies and theories. The spiritual and theological practices and understandings that will be generated—focused on gender, identity, sexuality, and community action—have the potential to benefit people of all sexual orientations, he said.

More than twenty local, state and regional LGBT organizations and faith communities have become local partners of the project, lending their names in support of its purpose.

Scholars and pastors presenting their preliminary work on Feb. 25 include:

 Other participants in the “Beyond Apologetics” project include:


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