Each year, a hand-picked set of thoughtful, intelligent Latter-day Saints talk about how they have chosen to interact with Mormonism. This “Why We Stay” session of the Sunstone Symposium is always very popular, and this year’s session has an incredible lineup. 

PANELISTS:

MODERATOR: Dan Wotherspoon, Ph.D. is the host of the Mormon Matters podcast and former editor and executive director of the Sunstone Education Foundation. Each year he curates and moderates the Why I Stay panel.

 

PANELIST:  Robin Linkhart is a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the lead missionary quorum of Community of Christ. She is assigned to the North Central USA Mission Field. She also oversees Restoration heritage seeker ministry.

Her previous assignments include president of the Quorum of Seventy. She also serves on the International Leaders Council, Theology Formation Team, Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministries Team, and chairs the Latter-day Seekers Ministries Team.  On special assignment in Utah, Robin is served as pastor of Salt Lake City Community of Christ and supports a variety of new ministries along the Wasatch Front.

Prior to holding the office of seventy, Robin provided ministry in the offices of elder, and high priest. Her experience includes pastor, youth and young adult ministries, community outreach/partnering, leadership development, and congregational consulting. In her prior assignment she served the Western USA Mission Field as field missionary coordinator. Linkhart has been employed by the church since January 1999. She holds a master of arts in Christian ministry from Community of Christ Seminary and a bachelor of arts in biological sciences from the University of Northern Colorado.

Community of Christ has 250,000 members in more than 60 nations. The church’s mission is to “proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.” Community of Christ International Headquarters is located in Independence, Missouri.

PANELIST:  John Gustav-Wrathall is Senior Vice President of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons and adjunct professor of American Religious History at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, where he teaches future Protestant ministers about Mormonism (and other religions).  He is the author of Take the Young Stranger by the Hand: Same-sex Relations and the YMCA (University of Chicago Press, 1998), has published articles in Sunstone and Dialogue on being gay and Mormon, and is the author of the Young Stranger blog.

John has been an activist for greater understanding of LGBT people since the 1980s on college campuses, in churches and faith-based organizations, and most recently on behalf of marriage equality in his home state of Minnesota.  Over the years he has spoken in churches and community forums, on university campuses and in religious assemblies and conferences (including at the Sunstone Symposium and at Affirmation conferences) about the issues affecting LGBT people in communities of faith.

Though excommunicated from the LDS Church, John has a testimony, and has been active in his south Minneapolis ward since 2005. He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his husband of over twenty years, to whom he was legally married in Riverside, California in July 2008, and with whom he has foster parented three sons.

PANELIST: Maxine Hanks is a Mormon feminist theologian who compiled and edited the book Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (1992). She was excommunicated on September 19 (along with fellow contributor D. Michael Quinn). In February 2012, Hanks was rebaptized as a member of the church.

PANELIST: Nathan McCluskey earned his PhD from the University of Canterbury in Political Science. His thesis focused on election promise-keeping. Nathan now works as the Union Convener for New Zealand’s national statistics agency.

Listen to past Why I Stay sessions here.

 

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