About Us

Church

The Problem

The church has earned a reputation for being anti-LGBTQIA+. In some cases, the church has been openly hostile to LGBTQIA+ people, treating them like outcasts rather than siblings and children of God. In other cases, the church has remained silent rather than follow the example of Jesus.  As a result, LGBTQIA+, straight, and cisgender Christians have left the church or have given up on their faith because they feel unsafe, unable to engage sincere questions, and unwelcome from communities where they can authentically grow in their faith. 

The church can do better.
WE can do better.
WE MUST DO BETTER.

Who We Are

OUR MISSION

LOVEboldly exists to create and develop spaces where LGBTQIA+ people can flourish in Christianity.

 

OUR VISION

A world where all LGBTQIA+ people can belong, feel safe, and flourish. 

WE ARE AFFIRMING

We are an affirming organization, but we do not require those we work with to hold a specific theology, sexual ethic, or denominational affiliation. We are an interdenominational organization.

WE BELIEVE

We are deeply persuaded that agreement with one another’s political and theological perspectives is not essential for moving towards loving one another boldly. LOVEboldly, therefore, does not require adherence to a set creed, statement of belief, or faith perspective beyond modeling our actions after those of Jesus. 

ANTI-RACISM

Centered in our understanding of the person of Jesus, who consistently affirmed the worth and dignity of every human being, LOVEboldly is dedicated to confronting and resisting racism. As an organization with an entirely white staff and board, we confess that our blindness and lack of action has caused further harm to our Black neighbors, including our Black LGBTQIA+ siblings. Please read our anti-racism statement here to learn more about how we are working to correct this.

WHERE WE WORK

As a small team with limited resources, our work is currently centered in the Central Ohio & Ohio Valley region. This focus is essential for our momentum and success. Our aim is to create thriving communities in this focused area to export to other cities around the country.

However, our trainings and consulting are available anytime and anywhere. If you’re interested in scheduling time to talk or bringing a LOVEboldy seminar to your area, let us know!

MORE QUESTIONS? VISIT OUR FAQ PAGE

Board & Staff

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Dr. Ben Huelskamp (he/they) is the Executive Director of LOVEboldly and an openly Queer Christian dedicated to helping the Church love LGBTQIA+ people because God made them in God’s image. A lifelong church geek, Ben appreciates a stirring sermon as much as he loves a well-executed liturgy. He earned a BA in philosophy, a MEd in higher education and student affairs, and an EdD in leadership with a focus on religion and ministry. He wrote his dissertation on the leadership of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church. Ben is a voracious reader, active writer, avid Star Trek nerd, and an alumnus member of Phi Mu Delta fraternity. If he ever got a tattoo, it would be of the Oxford Comma. Ben can be reached at bhuelskamp@loveboldly.net

Dr. Ben Huelskamp
Executive Director
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Rachel Dew

Board Chair

Rachel Dew (she/her/hers) cares deeply for those on the margins and has always valued building bridges of learning, understanding, and friendship between diverse groups of people. She credits her children with giving her the courage and motivation to develop her voice as an everyday advocate for inclusivity, equity, and justice in her community. 

 

Her journey of acceptance with her own child, and the subsequent hurt she experienced in the church, has given her a heart for coming alongside Christian parents of LGBTQIA+ children to provide a safe space of love and support. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Ohio University and a certificate in Leadership and Theology.

 

Rachel enjoys listening to music, hosting parties, and hiking with her family in the captivating beauty of Hocking Hills. She lives in Westerville, Ohio with her husband, their four bright and lively children, and gentle giant puppy, Hugo.

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Sheri Lytle

Board Treasurer

Sheri Lytle (she/her/hers) resides in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus with her husband Matt and her Doberman Shiraz (lovingly known as Razzy). Originally from the Phildelphia suburbs, she has a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry and had completed graduate work at The Ohio State Univeristy in Inorganic Chemistry. She is now a Proposal Consultant for a large staffing firm. 

Sheri’s passion for the LGBTQIA+ community started in college when a friend came out to her but wanted to stay closeted. After that, the flood gates opened and she started to befriend more LGBTQIA+ individuals until ultimately her best friend came out to her in 2004. She began to realize that her friends may be “welcome” at her church, but not free to marry or lead. Since then she has worked to bring together the church and the LGBTQIA+ community, showing the church that these individuals are worthy of God’s love and acceptance, and showing the LGBTQIA+ community that Jesus loves them. 

In her spare time, she loves to cook and entertain and is a passionate wine lover. She is a HUGE Harry Potter fan (and a proud Slytherin). She is also an exercise enthusiast who enjoys weight training, yoga, and spin classes.

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Heidi Weaver-Smith (she/her/hers) Heidi Weaver-Smith (she/her) is the founder of LOVEboldly and has been hosting dialogues with traditionally-minded Christians and the LGBTQIA+ community since 2008. Compelled by Christ's interactions with marginalized folks in the Gospels and disturbed by the stories of LGBTQIA+ friends who had been treated poorly by Christians, she founded LOVEboldly in 2011. Through her work with LOVEboldly, Heidi empowers LGBTQIA+ and straight Christians to step towards loving one another boldly and equips Christians to engage with dignity and civility in the polarizing conversations surrounding faith and sexuality. Heidi has an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and lives with her husband, Steven, and her young daughters, Felicity and Violet, in Westerville, OH.

Heidi Weaver-Smith
Founder
Board Secretary
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Kelly Crouch (they/them) Kelly is a bisexual and genderqueer Christian from Southwest Ohio. Kelly wrestled with questions of faith and sexuality at an early age, having grown up in a rural community with fundamentalist perspectives on queer people.

Kelly holds a Master of Arts from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York with a Social Ethics concentration. They are in the process of becoming a recorded minister in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Currently, Kelly is attending the London School of Economics while residing in London, England.

Kelly Crouch

Board Member

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WHAT PEOPLE SAY

LOVEboldly practices what it preaches—it boldly reaches out in love—to LGBTQ+ children of God and to their families and faith communities—so that everyone might know how precious they are to God and how desperately each one is needed in order for the Body of Christ to be complete. Their trainings, advocacy and community-building gatherings are professional, compassion-based, and effective. We’re proud to partner with LOVEboldly!

 

Kristyn Komarnicki
Director of Oriented to Love, Evangelicals

for Social Action

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania