This coming weekend, Friday evening and Saturday, is the annual Circling the Wagons Conference. In order to make sure North Star stays supportive of living gospel principles, we typically only allow advertisement of events or resources that are explicitly and exclusively supportive of the values and behavioral standards of the Church.
In reference to this year’s Circling the Wagons Conference, which is intended to be open and inclusive of all perspectives in order to hear and empathize with a diverse array of perspectives, I would like to make an exception to that policy. The organizer of the conference, a friend and colleague of mine, Anne Peffer, has made an especial and sincere effort to organize a conference that is true to its theme: “Coming Together: Listening to Gain Understanding and Find Common Ground.”
We are at an inflection point in the history of how we address issues of diversity in sexuality and gender identity, and there’s an important conversation that needs to happen, a conversation that includes those of varying perspectives who have a level of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual maturity such that they can healthily and productively engage those of differing perspectives as we seek to more healthily and sufficiently minister to the individuals and families who deal with these issues, and particularly those who might be most vulnerable to depression, despair, or even suicide.
As I wrote in the Introduction to Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction:
“Not all issues surrounding mortality, including homosexuality, are as clear-cut as we would like them to be. Even when we may not always agree with what others have to say we should not be afraid of sincerely opening our minds and hearts to simply listen—to understand the length and breadth of what it means to be human from the perspectives of others whose mortal experiences, challenges, or beliefs have been different from our own. We need not compromise revealed doctrines or inspired convictions in doing so. In fact, such explorations may provide us with opportunities to more fully discover the godly heart and divine nature—where we come to know more fully of the Savior’s infinite love for each of our Father’s children. The Savior had to come to people where they were. Often, those lost sheep were wandering, lost in the mountains. We, as His emissaries, must do the same. And we cannot find people until we know where they are.”
Because I believe this conference has the potential to be a valuable experience in simply listening to better understand and empathize with others, and for us to share our own stories so others can better understand and empathize with our choices to carve out our path within the framework of the teachings of the Church, I would like to invite and encourage as many members of the North Star community to attend the conference as might be able.
Keynote addresses and workshops will be led by varying individuals along the spectrum of experience, including several members and leaders and friends of the North Star community, including myself.
Please check out the conference website and find location, registration cost, and other details at:
President, North Star