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November 3-5, 2022
Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, TX

CenterPeace is thrilled to announce this fantastic speaker line up for our 2022 conference.

Don't miss out - register today!

Keynote Speakers

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Jeff Chu
Pastor, Author, Does Jesus Really Love Me? & Wholehearted Faith, with Rachel Held Evans 

I wear several different hats to cover my coarse Chinese hair, which requires too much product to tame: Writer, reporter, and editor. Teacher-in-Residence at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where my husband and I recently moved. (Neither of us has ever lived in the Midwest. Snow tires are a revelation!) Elder and candidate for ordination in the Reformed Church in America. Retired farmhand and aspiring farmer. Co-host, with my dear friend Sarah Bessey, of Evolving Faith.

 

But these are all things that I do, and as with anyone, there are so many more aspects to who I am. I am the son of immigrants from Hong Kong, the grandson and nephew of Baptist preachers, husband to Texas-born Tristan, and someone who is still learning how to be a good friend. I love to grow things, even if I’m not that good at it, and then I like to cook them, especially if there are many people around my dining room table. English is my second language; my first is Cantonese, though I have lost much of my fluency. I believe in the Oxford comma. I’m an introvert and an Enneagram 6. I love the Bible, even if I interpret it differently than I once did. And for those of you who love Schitt’s Creek, I wish I had David’s sartorial boldness, but I’m really more of a Patrick.

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Staci Frenes
Musician, Mom, Author, Love Makes Room 

Staci Frenes is a songwriter, author, and speaker who has spent the last 25 years singing and speaking in churches, conferences, women’s retreats and other faith-based venues. She has released ten albums of original music, and her songs have been placed in multiple films and TV shows. Her latest book, Love Makes Room: And Other Things I Learned When My Daughter Came Out, reflects a season of deep, profound changes in her faith and family life. This memoir and accidental guidebook for Christian parents and other loved ones of LGBTQ people is about coming to accept and understand her daughter’s gay orientation within the context of her deeply-rooted Christian faith. 
 
Staci and her husband Abe make their home in the San Francisco Bay Area and have two adult children, Zach and Abby. 

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Candace Hardnett
Pastor, Podcaster, "Godly & Gay" 

Pastor Candace E. Hardnett is the Senior Pastor of Agape Empowerment Ministries in Savannah, GA. She and her wife Erika K. Hardnett founded the church in 2009 and have worked diligently in the kingdom to  bring about awareness of God’s inclusive love for all people through their many community development endeavors and their advocacy for equal rights. Pastor Candace served her country as a United States Marine for five years. She served as her squadron Lay Leader for the Marines and the Ministry of Convalescence at the church where she was a member in San Diego, California. Pastor Candace has rallied on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for equality, trained with GLAAD, marched and protested locally as well as worked with the city of Savannah’s council and Mayor to bring about equality within her city. In 2019 she became the chairwoman of PROUD Savannah, the Mayor’s LGBTQ Taskforce as well as the Board of Directors Chairwoman for the Reformation Project. Candace is a social media influencer, (Godly and Gay). Candace holds a B.S. in Religion and an MDiv from Liberty University. She is the mother of three and a devoted wife. She and her family currently reside in Savannah, GA.

Joel Holier
Joel Hollier
Pastor, Author, A Place At His Table 

Dr. Joel Hollier is a pastor, social worker, writer, and academic hailing from Sydney, Australia. Married to Thomas, he co-pastors New City Church and enjoys outrageously over-catering for dinner parties, spending time with his sausage dog (Hank), and helping the church think about trauma. His PhD (Behavioral Science) explored the lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ people in the Australian Evangelical church. His current research and practice interests include  youth development, holistic frameworks of integrated care, LGBTQIA+ diversity and inclusion, mental health, and religiously mediated trauma. Joel is eager to develop and promote social work and pastoral  approaches which emphasize practice with the whole person in the context of rich community connectedness. He is the author of A Place at His Table, and currently holds
research and teaching positions at the University of Sydney.

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Matthew Vines
Author, God & the Gay Christian, &  Founder/Exec Dir, The Reformation Project 

Matthew Vines is the Founder and Executive Director of The Reformation Project and the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

 

Matthew attended Harvard University from 2008 to 2010. He then took a leave of absence in order to research the Bible and same-sex relationships and work toward LGBTQ inclusion in the church. In March 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at a church in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, about the Bible and same-sex relationships, calling for acceptance of gay Christians and their marriage relationships. The video of the speech was viewed more than a million times on YouTube, leading to a feature story in The New York Times that fall.

 

In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project, a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that works to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church while remaining grounded in a love for God, a love for the Bible, and a love for the church. The Reformation Project hosts a variety of events, including a conference, a Parents in Process group, a Pastors in Process group, and leadership training cohorts.

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Justin Lee
Author, Torn and Talking Across the Divide 

For the last two decades, Justin Lee has been an influential Christian voice for LGBTQ affirmation, best known for working across areas of theological disagreement to promote grace and mutual understanding. He is the founder of the world’s largest LGBTQ Christian advocacy organization, the author of two books, and an internationally known speaker on faith, sexuality, and dialogue. Justin’s first book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, has been widely cited for its role in helping Christian parents understand and accept their LGBTQ kids. His newest book, Talking Across the Divide, offers strategies for having more productive conversations on controversial issues in a polarized society.

 

Justin lives in Orlando, Florida, where he currently serves as the executive director of Nuance Ministries. He makes educational videos on the Bible and other topics on his YouTube channel and blogs at GeekyJustin.com.

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Sally Gary
Author, Affirming: A Memoir of Faith, Sexuality, & Staying in the Church, & Founder/Exec Dir, CenterPeace 

Originally from Wichita Falls, TX, Sally now lives in Dallas with her wife Karen and their miniature dapple dachshund, Rudy. She is the author of two books: Loves God, Likes Girls (2013) and Affirming: A Memoir of Faith, Sexuality, and Staying in the Church (2021). 

 

Sally holds bachelor's and master's degrees in communication from Abilene Christian University, as well as a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. She has coached high school and college speech and debate, worked as a civil trial attorney, and spent ten years teaching communications at ACU. Sally is a teacher at heart. Most of all, Sally is dedicated to serving queer youth, helping them know they are loved and that they belong. Everywhere. 

In-Person and Virtual Hosts

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John Alan Turner
Author/Speaker/Executive Coach 
from Atlanta, GA
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Portia Andrews
Executive by day, DJ by night 
from Los Angeles, CA