An Evening with Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah
Save the date! Join us as we welcome Don Sherwood, current Bishop of the Berkeley University YSA Ward, where he serves on the front lines of creating a more welcoming and inclusive church experience for all, especially LGBTQ members. Don will share his outlook and experience as a Bishop as he has encouraged ward members to more fully "love one another" and create a welcoming space for all of God's children. We hope you can join us!
Don has served in his current calling since 2016 with his wife of 31 years, Mandy. Don joined the church in 1999 and has spent half his church tenure as Bishop. He served as Bishop of the Lafayette Ward from 2006 to 2012, and then served as Stake Public Affairs Director, organizing multiple regional blood drives and several Helping Hands projects that raised more than $50,000 and included thousands of volunteers over 4 years. Don and Mandy have three children and 2 grandchildren. He is a senior Finance Executive for Callidus Cloud a company recently acquired by SAP. Prior to that Don was involved in one of the largest tech acquisitions of all time the Vodafone purchase of wireless telecom company AirTouch.
Liz Darger: “A Common Humanity: Building bridges of understanding between LGBTQ&SSA and faith communities through the NCAA Common Ground Initiative”
Bob Rees: "It Isn't Just a Crisis of Faith, It's Also a Crisis of Reason & Especially a Crisis of Love"
We are honored to have Bob Rees joining us on February 25th at 7:00pm. Bob will delve more deeply into faith crisis among the Latter-day Saints to show that it is more multi-dimensional than most people realize. Often in the past, individuals have left the faith because of transgression or doctrinal differences, but some are leaving now because of ideology, culture and policy. How do we address this challenge, as individuals, families and congregations?
November 19th, 2017 at 7:00pm. Location: 400 Selby Lane, Atherton, CA.
Laura will share what it was like for her as an adult coming to terms with being both a lesbian and an active member of the LDS faith. She will also talk about what her experience has been like since, as she has continued her activity in the church, but now does so while being openly gay and married to another woman. Laura’s testimony of the gospel has deepened as she has followed her own spiritual journey. Her wife Lynette will also be joining us and will share her perspective of being married to a Latter-day Saint who remains active in the faith.
October 15, 2017 at 7:00pm. Location: 400 Selby Lane, Atherton, CA
At our upcoming Hearth Fireside we are honored to welcome Joanna Brooks, co-author of the moving book “Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began.” This book is a story of courage and resilience as Alex fights to survive and escape the conversion therapy program she was forced into by her parents in a misguided attempt to “fix her.”
Joanna has long been a voice and ally for the LGBTQ community and will share what she learned from Alex’ story as well as where the road can lead next for LDS LGBTQ+ and allies. We are thrilled to have her joining us.
Joanna Brooks is an award-winning Mormon feminist writer and scholar, a community organizer with 25 years of experience in labor, feminist, anti-racist and LGBTQ+ ally community organizing, and mother of a tween and a teen daughter who think she is okay most of the time. She is the author or editor of ten books on faith, gender, race, and politics, including The Book of Mormon Girl (Simon & Schuster, 2012), Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings (Oxford, 2015), and Saving Alex (2016). She lives in San Diego, California
We are excited to announce that Richard Ostler, known to many as "Papa" Ostler, will be joining us at the Hearth on September 17th, 2017 at 7pm! (Location: 400 Selby Ln, Atherton, CA.) Richard previously served as a YSA Bishop and will share his experience of being ‘called by God’ to begin his journey of outreach to the LGBTQ community as an Ally, his feelings about his LGBTQ brothers and sisters, as well as his thoughts on the future of the Church’s relationship with its LGBTQ members.
Join us Sun. July 9th at 7pm. Location: 3865 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA.
We are delighted to announce that this Hearth Fireside will be filmed by a documentary film crew! They are being sent here by Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, to capture some of the great outreach being done here in our Hearth Community! Click on the above title for more exciting and important details about the filming!
Carol Lynn Wright Pearson is an American poet, author, screenwriter, and playwright. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Pearson is best known for the book Goodbye, I Love You, a memoir of her marriage to a gay man who died of AIDS in 1984. She frequently addresses the topics of LGBT acceptance and the role of Mormon women. Carol Lynn lives in Walnut Creek, California and is an active member of her ward and stake.
Faithful: A Lesbian Mormon Story
Join us on Sunday June 25th, 2017 at 7:00pm
400 Selby Lane, Atherton, CA
What would it be like to live with the love of your life but remain celibate to meet the requirements of your religion? In this groundbreaking documentary, that is touching hearts and expanding paradigms, the story of two lesbian Mormons living in rural Utah is explored, showing how they are making it work in their own way. Join us for an exclusive private screening of the 20 minute documentary and a Q&A to follow with the filmmakers!
Faithful was born out of the need to tell an honest story and to foster compassion and conversation around the lived experiences of lesbian Mormons. Over the past several decades, at least 20 movies and documentaries have been made about the gay Mormon experience, but almost no films have been made about Mormon lesbians. At the center of this film are Marylu and Lauralie. Marylu comes from many generations of Mormons who crossed the plains, and Lauralie was once married in the temple to a man. Together, they live in the plateaus of eastern Utah in Roosevelt, a town of 6,700 people.
A trailer to the documentary can be viewed here:
1. Are Marylu and Lauralie active in the Church? Yes they are and they hold temple recommends. They are managing to be in a committed same-sex relationship while keeping the standards of the Mormon church, which is not a common choice. It’s not an easy path, but it seems to work for them.
2. Is the film promoting their choice to remain celibate? No, it is not. You will meet another couple under similar circumstances who have chosen very differently. This is a love story between two women and their love stories with their religion and God.
3. Who are the filmmakers? Dane Christensen is finishing his MFA in Documentary Film & Video at Stanford. This film is his thesis project. Jenn Lee Smith grew up partly in rural eastern Utah and is dedicated to telling true stories of women. They met at a Hearth fireside last year!
4. Is there a way to help support sharing this film to a broader audience? Yes! Dane & Jenn Lee have created a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to get the film into the upcoming film festival season. Even small donations make a huge difference as distributors are impressed by high numbers interested in a film. Additional information can be found here:
Jenn Lee recently screened a fine cut of the film to a select audience of about 20 people consisting of Mormons and non-Mormons. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
Comments included the following:
"You can feel their level of devotion both to each other and to the religion."
"I think about my parents who are truly wonderful people, but they have no exposure to stories like these. They have no frame of reference, so the best thing for them would be to talk to people who are gay and Mormon and the second best thing is for them to see people in a wonderful relationship. Why this film resonated with me so well is the thought that, wow, I would like to send this to my parents."
"You've done such a good job of just looking at these people and not trying to make a statement other than that they love each other and they love the church and those things come in conflict. It's not trying to pass a judgment or whatever. I think it's just beautiful."
We look forward to having you join us around the Hearth!
If you are learning to love with fewer conditions, if you are LGBTQ and looking for a safe place, or if you simply want to demonstrate your care for your LGBTQ friends and family and join with others who care, you will find a place with us.
Over the past twenty years, both fear of and likelihood of being ostracized from the church community have sunk appreciably for LGBT members. More people than ever are coming out, and so more people than ever are facing a question: how does one live as a queer Mormon?
Some people find a workable answer in the church’s limited direction, and stay; many more find Mormonism untenable, and leave. Come explore how we as individuals might contribute to an answer that’s not just workable, but sustaining for ourselves and our loved ones.
Why would an openly gay graduate student in theology choose to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints one month after the policy change? Come to The Hearth this Sunday, October 16, at 7:00 and hear Derek Knox's story of conversion and choosing to be baptized as an openly and proudly gay man.
Josh and Lolly are in a mixed orientation marriage that received a lot of attention when Josh came out as gay on his blog back in 2012. The story of their marriage has created a lot of controversy both inside and outside of the church. In their presentation, they hope to be candidly honest about the nature of their relationship and the genuine love they have for all members of the LGBT community.
This month we will be honored to hear from Carol Lynn Pearson, a long-time advocate for the LGBT community in the LDS Church. Speaking from extensive experience as an ally and friend to LGBT Mormons, she will share a vision for approaching the challenges and opportunities we meet in the Church and in the world.
Cynthia Bailey Lee, a Hearth community member and ally, will share stories of pioneers in her life and the lessons they can teach us about seizing the spiritual blessings available to us. She will also speak about how we can all be pioneers in creating a more inclusive and loving atmosphere for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Recent policy changes in the Church have breathed new life into age-old questions—What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Who has a place in the kingdom of God? How do we respond to change and diversity? What is my role in building Zion? Jon Arnell will share what he is learning as a gay Mormon, and what our questions and differences can teach us about moving forward as latter-day saints in a dynamic world.
The church has produced amazing examples of love and inclusion. This month, Don Fletcher will share with us some his experiences reaching out to LGBT members, both in his tenure as bishop of the Bay Ward, and beyond. Join us in thinking about what we can do in our own wards and stakes to make the church look more like God's inclusive family.
Questions about God's plan for LGBT people can shake and even topple our faith. Yet, these same questions can be a powerful impetus for growth as we engage with them and develop the ability to believe in the midst of challenges (D&C 46:14). Join us for an evening with Terryl and Fiona Givens as we explore some of the best reasons to believe.
Terryl Givens is professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, where he holds the Jabez A. Bostwick Chair in English. He has participated in the Joseph Smith Papers project, and has authored several books in Mormon Studies, including, By the Hand of Mormon, People of Paradox, and Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought.
Fiona Givens (MA European History, University of Richmond) has published articles on LDS history and culture, and is a popular speaker at conferences and workshops. She has co-authored two works with her husband: The God Who Weeps, and The Crucible of Doubt.