Owning our identity;
Rediscovering our faith
The Gay Christian Network, (GCN) is initiating their first ever Gay Christian Youth Retreat.
More often than not our faith communities today lack a safe space for LGBTQ+ and ally youth to explore their faith and thrive in a loving community free from pressure to alter their identity or conform to a specific set of beliefs. This retreat is designed for LGBTQ+ youth, ages 14-19, to wrestle with and engage with their LGBTQ+ peers in questions of faith, community and family.
Expanding from the theme of the GCN Conference, our retreat is based on Matthew 13:34, which states, “Jesus used stories to tell all these things to the people; he always used stories to teach them”. We want to learn the stories of those who came before us, hear the stories of those around us and share our stories with those who love us... because our “Stories Inspire!”
We will share our stories with the world around us…
The camp is located in beautiful Pennsylvania at the Bear Creek Camp. Bear Creek Camp is a ministry of the Southeastern and Northeastern Pennsylvania Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Located on nearly 3,000 acres in the beauty of the Pocono Mountains, Bear Creek Camp offers plenty of year-round opportunities.
Speakers and Performers
Emmy R. Kegler
Emmy R. Kegler is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Northeast Minneapolis (gracenempls.org) and the founder and editor of Queer Grace, an encyclopedia of online resources around LGBTQ life and faith (queergrace.com). She was raised in the Episcopal Church and spent some time in non-denominational congregations before finding her home in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. She lives in Saint Paul and enjoys biking, board games, books, beer, and babysitting her fiancée’s dogs.
Austen Hartke is the creator of the YouTube series “Transgender and Christian,” which seeks to understand, interpret, and share parts of the Bible that relate to gender identity and the lives of transgender individuals. Austen is a graduate of Luther Seminary’s Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies, and is the winner of the 2014 John Milton Prize in Old Testament Writing from the same institution. He has spoken at conferences all over the country, including The Reformation Project Conference in Atlanta, the Gay Christian Network Conferences in Houston and in Pittsburg, and the 2016 Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference. Currently Austen lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is working on a collection of biblical and modern narratives from gender-non-conforming people of faith, to be published with Westminster John Knox Press in Spring of 2018. As a transgender person of faith his greatest passion is helping other trans and gender-non-conforming people see themselves in scripture.
Kevin Garcia is a speaker, writer, musician, creative and worship artist based in Atlanta, GA. He graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2013 with a BM in Music Education and has been everything from a barista to a corporate office worker to a non-profit professional since then. After coming out in the fall of 2015 as a gay Christian, Kevin has reached thousands of individuals across the globe with his blog, theKevinGarcia.com, his podcast, “A Tiny Revolution," and through speaking engagements at churches, universities, and festivals. His most recent endeavor is a YouTube channel dedicated to discussing the intersections of faith, sexuality, gender, race, and politics. Kevin also works with The Reformation Project, an LGBTQ direction action organization with a mission to make the global church more inclusive for queer people. He is presently a candidate for a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and is an active member of Grace Midtown Church. He believes that by telling our stories, we set others free to tell theirs. In addition to LGBTQ advocacy, Kevin’s passions include vocal jazz, tacos, and really horrible dad jokes.