Arguably one of the most divisive topics of our time, faith and sexuality conversations continue to divide churches and families, hurt our witness with others, inhibit our own spiritual growth, and damage LGBTQ+ people. In February 2019, following the United Methodist Church's vote to maintain and reinforce their prohibition on same-sex marriage and ordination of gay clergy, we held this dialogue event to model, encourage, and elevate thoughtful perspectives on faith, sexuality, and gender identity across diverse theological perspectives.
conversation partner BIOS:
Morgan Kohls is currently a medical student at the Ohio State University and is hoping to pursue orthopedic surgery. After many years of hiding her sexuality, Morgan came out as gay during college at Ohio University. At the same time, she found deeper faith in Jesus and joined a large campus ministry. Towards the end of college, some prickly experiences made Morgan extremely wary of other Christians. Morgan currently attends Central City Church, and that wariness is finally going away. In her free time, Morgan likes to play frisbee, eat food, and pet her cat.
Johanna Finegan got involved in her first dialogue project on faith and sexuality in 1997 as a gay atheist sophomore in college. There she met people who introduced her to what a vibrant evangelical faith in Jesus Christ could look like and became a Christian herself in 1998. After underwhelming experiences with ex-gay ministries and the pursuit of “healing”, she settled on gay celibacy for herself until meeting a man she wanted to share the rest of her life with in 2004. She lives in Waynesville, Ohio, with her husband Tim and their two daughters. Johanna holds an A.B. degree in philosophy from Princeton and a PhD in philosophy from MIT. Her passion is encouraging and strengthening gay Christians who are seeking to live out a traditional sexual ethic (side B). She currently serves on the advisory board for Spiritual Friendship, and writes and speaks for them as well, including a well-received presentation at the pre-conference before Revoice 2018. She attends a Cincinnati LOVEboldly small group and enjoys the fellowship and safe space that it offers. Her new blog will be launching in the first quarter of 2019 at johannafinegan.com.
Alex Shanks is Rachel’s husband, Ella Marie’s papa, and a transman. He considers himself a thinker, woodworker, story teller, servant leader, and spiritual seeker. After studying Organizational Communication, Religion, and Entrepreneurship at Ohio Northern University, he held various ministry roles. Most recently he worked for Equality Ohio as Project and Field Director, where he developed and oversaw their faith organizing initiatives; and for Reconciling Ministries Network as North Central Regional Organizer. He lives with his family and 7 dogs in Pataskala, OH.
Siobhan Boyd-Nelson is a native of Columbus, OH and is deeply passionate about the city’s LGBTQ and Africa-American populations. In her current role as Development Director at Equality Ohio, the statewide advocacy and education organization for LGBTQ Ohioans, Siobhan is responsible for developing and executing the organization’s fundraising and engagement strategies. She is a graduate of Liberty Christian Academy, Howard University in Washington, DC and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Until early adulthood, Siobhan believed that her same-sex attractions, Black identity and Christian faith could never be reconciled. After being exposed to the examples and writings of Bishop Yvette Flunder (City of Refuge UCC, Oakland, CA) and others, Siobhan began to seek what she never thought she could have–a spiritual home that could be shared with her wife. Today, Siobhan and her wife Maritza call Move United Church (UCC) home. Siobhan serves on the board and Maritza plays in the band.
Carson Sotelo is member of New City Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Spanish, and International Studies from Saint Louis University. Carson seeks to pursue what it looks like for a gay Christian to live out a life that honors God, and believes that includes upholding a traditional sex ethic. He currently teaches English as a Second Language and leads a community group through New City. He resides in Cincinnati, OH.
Heidi Weaver-Smith is the president and founder of LOVEboldly. Compelled by Christ's interactions with marginalized folks in the Gospels and disturbed by the stories of LGBTQ+ friends who had been treated poorly by Christians, Heidi founded LOVEboldly in 2011. Through her leadership, Heidi empowers LGBTQ+ 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 completed 1 year of seminary coursework at Asbury Theological Seminary and has been participating in dialogues with traditionally-minded Christians and the LGBTQ+ community since 2008. She serves in various capacities at Central City Church and lives with her husband, Steven, and their young daughter, Felicity, in Columbus, OH.