Rising from the Ashes Conference Recap.
By Adam Woods
OneByOne, Executive Director
In a room full of ministry leaders Christine Sneeringer brought the crowd into fits of laughter as she shared about her journey coming out of homosexuality, “I wish I could tell you that my pastor waved a magic wand over me saying, ‘one, two, three, now you’re free, go be straight, date and mate!’ but that’s not what happened,” she said.
Christine, founder of Worthy Creations was one of many church leaders at this past weekend’s conference “Rising from the Ashes,” at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C. This was the first conference hosted by the Hope For Wholeness Network, whose goal is to bring “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.”
“I didn’t look the part of a Christian,” Christine said with reference to her life after surrendering her sexuality to Jesus. “But that’s what’s also really cool about a place like this, that wants to talk about real things.”
The event brought together leaders from several like-minded ministries such as McKrae Game, Kristin Tremba and Mary Heathman. Each of these leaders gave speeches sharing their own testimonies of the transforming power they experienced by surrendering their sexuality to Jesus Christ.
McKrae Game is the president and founder of Hope for Wholeness and the executive director of Truth Ministry in Spartanburg, S.C. McKrae is quick-witted and fearless when it comes to addressing homosexuality and the Church. McKrae shared in a recent newsletter that he wants the Hope for Wholeness Network to be a “landing place for people to utilize, as we work collectively as a family.” He is zealous and passionate and transparent in all that he shares.
Former OneByOne Executive Director Kristin Tremba was also present and shared some reflections of her own. Kristin, her husband and their three-year-old daughter are now living in Orlando where she directs Exchange Ministries located at First Baptist of Orlando.
Mary Heathman felt called to this ministry after her stepson came out as a gay man. After being told by another church member that the Church could not provide help in the area of homosexuality, Mary felt called to take action in the name of Jesus Christ. This resulted in the ministry of Where Grace Abounds, which Mary founded in 1986. Where Grace Abounds is still ministering to Denver residents and folks abroad that are in conflict with their sexuality.
“People need to be rooted and grounded in love with all the saints,” Mary said in her address at the conference. “People are programmed to grow—like plants—and God will not break off a bruised reed.”
Author and public speaker Joe Dallas also spoke at the conference, offering insights on Gay Theology, which he became an expert on during his days as a leader in the Metropolitan Community Churches, an LGBT-affirming denomination founded by Rev. Troy Perry in 1968. As Dallas shares in his book The Gay Gospel, he first tried to convince himself it was acceptable to be both gay and Christian but through his own study of the Scripture, he later came to the conclusion the two were incompatible.
Acts of Renewal, a well-known drama team also presented at the conference, performing skits to illuminate Biblical accounts like the story of Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Burning Bush, and the Samaritan Woman. These dramas were incredibly powerful and reminded participants that the God we serve uses the weak to confound the wise and loves us as we are.
There were also a variety of workshops throughout the weekend. I attended “Ministering to Gay Teens,” “Managing Minstry: Boundaries and Balance,” and “Healthy Male Same-Sex Relationships.” Each workshop lasted 50 minutes and each was jam-packed with helpful insights. For instance in “Ministering to Gay Teens,” Youth Pastor and Director of Six:11 Ministries Shawn Harrison shared the motto “Belong, Believe, Be Transformed.” This motto emphasizes that LGBT identified teens must first feel that they belong in a church youth group before they will accept the truth and allow it to transform their hearts.
In short, Rising from the Ashes was a much-needed experience for me. It gave me a chance to meet other ministry leaders and share what God has been doing through me and the work of OneByOne. I feel a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit to go out and love the LGBT community and to equip churches to do the same.
“We often think that we have to clean ourselves up for God, we don’t,” Christine Sneeringer said. “He wants to take us like we are, we don’t even have the power to clean ourselves up.”
Adam Woods, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org