2015 Healing The Hurt: Dancing With Broken Bones
On Saturday, September 26, 2015 people from all around will assemble on the campus of Chatham University for JUDAH Fellowship’s 2nd bi-annual conference entitled Healing the Hurt: Dancing with Broken Bones. The vision for this conference is to provide an atmosphere for growth, dialogue, and learning around issues that are rarely approached concerning the faith and LGBTQIA communities. This event seeks to give voice to the areas that have historically and systematically caused confusion, bigotry, injustice, and misunderstanding. The conference will be a one-day event in which national and local facilitators will share insight, information, and wisdom on various topics that effect the convergence of these communities. There will also be a time dialogue and fellowship. This event is not just for those within the LGBTQA community and their allies, but it is intentional in reaching all whom have an ear and a heart for those most in need of a voice within our society.
Rev. Rodney McKenzie
Faith Work Director, The National LGBTQ Task Force
Healing The Hurt
Rodney McKenzie, Jr., Faith Work Director, is an out person of faith, community organizer and a reverend. Over the last thirteen years, he’s worked for organizations fighting for grassroots political power in marginalized communities. From being a Field Organizer at the Task Force in 2002 to most recently being the Spiritual Director and Co-Creator of Expansion Church, his work focuses on the intersection of community organizing and radical spirituality in the public square.
Rodney’s currently a Master of Divinity candidate at Union Theological Seminary. By putting James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill and the Apostle Paul in conversation, he’s constructing a liberation theology that challenges how theology and LGBTQI politics approaches the intersection of race, class and sexuality.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Rodney currently resides in New York City, New York.
Faith Organizer, Equality Pennsylvania
Healing The Hurt
Ammon is our statewide Faith Organizer. After eleven years as a librarian and LGBTQ activist in Pittsburgh, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has worked with diverse faith communities in local, regional, and national settings, including four years with the National Council of Churches. In addition to doing faith organizing and community relations work for non-profits, he has served a small church as a pastor. Ammon serves on the boards of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh. He is in the ordination process in the United Church of Christ.
Executive Director, Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute
Healing The Hurt
Michelle Snyder has a range of responsibilities at PPI that are as diverse as her training and experience. In her administrative capacity, she serves as PPI’s executive director and specifically oversees The Center for Clergy and Congregational Care. In her clinical capacity, she works as a therapist with adults, couples, and families. She has dual training in mental health as well as theology, which provides a unique therapeutic perspective. Michelle believes that effectively grappling with the existential and spiritual dimension of life is central for a person’s developmental health and wellness. Michelle uses an eclectic approach to mental health treatment, which includes elements of psychodynamic, family systems, and cognitive behavioral therapies. Michelle is licensed to practice in the State of Pennsylvania. She is a trained executive leadership coach and specializes in working with those in ministry and non-profit leadership to develop their personal and organizational potential.
Michelle developed a diversity of human services experience working in homeless ministry in New York City, as a nursing home chaplain in Northwestern Pennsylvania, and in forensic mental health services at the Elk County Jail in central Pennsylvania. Michelle also has extensive experience with multiple diverse theological positions and has traveled, both in the Western and non-Western world, studying religion, faith, and culture.
When not at PPI, Michelle teaches courses in human behavior and the social environment in the MSW program at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in the South Hills with her husband who is a Presbyterian pastor, her two young daughters, her dog and her cat.
Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell
Professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Healing The Hurt
After studying at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Princeton Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell earned his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He taught at Erskine College, S.C. (1989-1992) and Randolph-Macon College, Va. (1992-2005), receiving numerous awards for teaching excellence. Tuell’s particular research interest is the biblical literature of the early Persian period. He has written numerous articles and book reviews, including multiple entries in Feasting on the Word (a commentary on the Common Lectionary published by Westminster John Knox). He has also been a frequent contributor to the United Methodist Publishing House Adult Bible Studies curriculum and Bible Reader series. Tuell has written The Law of the Temple in Ezekiel 40-48 in the Harvard Semitic Monographs Series; a commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Interpretation Series; a commentary on Ezekiel, published by Baker in the Understanding the Old Testament Commentary series; and with John Strong co-edited Constituting the Community, a collection of essays on community in the Hebrew Bible, written in honor of S. Dean McBride Jr. Tuell has just completed a commentary on Nahum through Malachi for Smith-Helwys An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Tuell has served churches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Virginia. He is a member in full connection of The Western Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church, and preaches and teaches frequently throughout the area. He and his wife Wendy have three adult sons.
Rev. Darren Phelps
Healing The Hurt
Pastor Darren W. Phelps (Pastor Darren) is the senior pastor/ founder. He was licensed to preach at age 15 at Allen AME Church, Queens NY. He was ordained at age 24 at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Petersburg VA. At age 25 Pastor Darren was called to the Pastor the Hickory Run Baptist Church, VA. After several years, He was called to pastor the Beverly Manor Baptist Church, VA. In 2008, he founded the Bethel Christian Church, DC with a focus on radical inclusivity – affirmatively welcoming of all people regardless of sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity or expression or economic situation.
Bethel is a vision-driven multicultural church, called to speak to this generation. We’re a church where people can grow in Christ and become transformed so that they might transform their world. Bethel is affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), under the leadership of Bishop Yvette Flunder.
In 2011, Bethel DC made history by purchasing their “First Home” located at 2217 Minnesota Ave SE, Washington DC. In July 2013, Pastor Darren was appointed as the TFAM East Coast Episcopal Liaison- where he is responsible for overseeing churches, Pastors and lay leaders in the DC/ VA/ MD region.
Pastor Darren is passionate about developing a hub in the community where the church resides. He has a heart for all of God’s children whether gay, straight, black, white, transgender, bisexual, young or seasoned. Pastor Darren reaches through the walls of conventionalism and he is a strong voice for those who have been marginalized. Pastor Darren is a dynamic teacher and preacher that embraces community, diversity, justice, equality, worship, fellowship, inclusion and social action.
His pastoral leadership along with his administrative and enthusiastic preaching style makes him an outstanding strategist who implements both socio and ecclesiastical approaches to his pastoral and overall interpersonal methods. Pastor Darren has a successful track record in building productive relationships. (i.e. community, educational, political, and congregational) This man of God has the ability to interface with persons from all walks of life.
Pastor Darren has been an active member with Clergy for Marriage Equality and the Gertrude Stein Club (the DC affiliate of the National Stonewall Democrats). He has served on the planning committees for Capital Pride and Black Pride -DC, organizing LGBT-inclusive interfaith services and focusing on broader inclusion of communities of color. He stepped up as a leader with Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence Committee (GLOV) working to reduce violence against the LGBT community within DC. He has received many awards for his community service- the Prism Award, the Capital Pride DC Hero award, just to name a few.
Pastor Darren has spoken out at Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils, supported the DC AIDS Walk and organized for One Nation Working Together. He is also on the Host Committee and People of Color committee for the "Practice Spirit/ Do Justice" Creating Change conference, organized by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
Pastor Darren is a graduate of Virginia State University BA Education, MA Psychology. He completed further studies at Virginia Union seminary, Beulah Bible University, ITC Atlanta, and Capital Bible seminary. He is the proud father of two daughters and two grandsons.
Bishop Joseph Tolton
National Director of Global Justice, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Healing The Hurt
Bishop Joseph Tolton enjoys a three-faceted career serving the gay and lesbian community as a voice for spiritual freedom, social justice and entrepreneurship. He is the Bishop of Global Ministries for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), and also serves as the Associate Pastor for Social Justice at Rivers of Living Water in New York City.
Bishop Tolton’s ministry provides leadership to TFAM’s justice collaborations and ministry affiliations outside of the United States. In this capacity, Tolton provides pastoral care and strategic consulting services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual communities in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, and the DRC. Additionally, Pastor Tolton partners with local clergy in each of these countries to pioneer a pan African open and affirming progressive Christian movement.
Under Bishop Tolton’s stewardship, The Fellowship Global has launched the United Coalition of Affirming Africans (UCAA) in Rwanda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UCAA conducts clergy outreach, training and mobilization for faith leaders seeking more inclusive positions. In 2014 Pastor Tolton presided over the affiliation of the Church of God Rwanda coming into full association with TFAM. This historic collaboration witnessed the first traditional denomination in Africa being fully aligned with an open and affirming communion.
Tolton had been pastor of Rehoboth Temple Christ Conscious Church in Harlem, which in 2012 merged with another local TFAM church to create Rivers of Living Water New York. During this transition Tolton ceded his role as Sr. Pastor, and took the role of Associate Pastor so he could expand his international advocacy work.
After graduating from Vassar in 1989 with a BA in religion, Tolton discerned a path toward liberation theology and reconciled his faith and call to ministry with his sexuality.
He was recruited to break the mold of ministry by weaving the Pentecostal tradition with an open and affirming culture, which led to him being ordained as Rev. Joseph Tolton, assistant pastor of The Potter’s House Church in Brooklyn, where he served for two years.
Tolton has also earned an MBA from the Columbia Business School, and in 2001 he established Blur Communications (originally Blur Advertising), a full-service brand development and marketing communications firm where he continues to be managing director. The New York based agency has operations in Rwanda and continues to provide business development consulting for start-ups, which have a social imperative, embedded in their mission.