‘This Jesus heals’: Gender Matters Conference to share the truth of God’s love

Moira Cullings

Same-sex attraction and gender identity are among the most-talked about issues in secular society.

“To some extent, everybody has some type of relational or sexual brokenness,” said Scott Elmer, Executive Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Denver.

“It’s a thing where you’re tempted to think it’s such a hot button issue, maybe the Church doesn’t have an answer or that the Church’s answer would be incredibly unfulfilling,” he said.

But the Church does have an answer, and it will be addressed at the Gender Matters Conference, presented by Desert Stream Ministries on Jan. 19.

“What Gender Matters and what Desert Stream does is they say that Jesus has an answer and that the Father has given you an identity as his son or his daughter, and you’ll find fulfillment there,” said Elmer.

“Even if it’s somebody that’s experienced profound same-sex attraction, the Lord can actually bring about healing in that.”

Elmer believes that through Desert Stream, the conference has great potential to heal the hearts of those who attend.

“Desert Stream Ministries is a ministry which is designed to expose people to the love of God the Father, receive their identity in Jesus Christ and heal the wounds that have come from their brokenness,” he said.

Although the conference will focus on same-sex attraction and gender identity, it will be helpful to all who struggle with sexual or relational issues.

“The conference is designed for people that are looking for how Jesus answers people with this type of brokenness,” said Elmer. “If you come, you’ll realize that the Lord wants to restore and bring to fulfillment something in you.”

That fulfillment can come out of even the most complicated wounds.

“Most of the wounds you and I have is because of failed relationships,” said Elmer. “So, it’s actually relationship that restores that wound. The communal aspect with other Christians is necessary, too.”

The conference will utilize the teachings of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, as well as Scripture, to explain the Church’s position on these issues.

“[Desert Stream] brings people to the source of healing, which is Jesus, and then through some teaching, some ministry and powerful small group experiences, the Lord ministers healing,” said Elmer.

“The people that have been sent to it have experienced profound healing, profound renewed intimacy with Jesus and knowing him in a new and powerful way.”

Elmer explained that although society strives to make it easy for people who struggle with these issues by accepting them without question, “it’s a false compassion in the sense that we don’t think that’s the highest dignity that God called them to live.

“He doesn’t want to just leave them in brokenness,” he added. “This Jesus heals.”

Aaron Lambert contributed to this story.

Gender Matters Conference

Saturday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1300 S. Steele St.
$25

Visit gendermatters.eventbrite.com
to register.

COMING UP: Catholic Baby University prepares parents for the real deal

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Heidi and Jim Knous had no idea that something like a Catholic childbirth education existed. But not long after finding out the great news that they were expecting their first child, Brady, they came across an article in the Denver Catholic introducing Catholic Baby University — a program designed to teach expecting parents the nuts and bolts of both childbirth and Catholicism.

“I think it’s special because it gives you an opportunity to step back from all the registries and baby shower… and to really take time to come together as a couple to think about this vocation, what parenthood is … and how you want that to look for your family,” Heidi said.

“I think there’s a lot of distractions when you’re about to have a child,” Jim added. “Everybody knows it’s going to be tough and you’re going through a lot. Everybody’s trying to tell you, ‘You should do this, you should do that.’ But Catholic Baby U really gives you a solid understanding of what having a child is going to be like and includes the values that we learned as a family in raising a baby in the Catholic faith.”

Jim and Heidi Knous and their son Brady, are parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver. (Photo provided)

 

The Catholic Baby University holistic program for parents — offered both as a weekend retreat or a six-class series — is the result of the partnership between Rose Medical Center and the Archdiocese of Denver and was inspired by the previously-founded Jewish Baby University.

The classes touch on topics dealing with childbirth instruction, postpartum experience, baby safety and the Catholic faith — and they are taught and facilitated by certified birth and safety instructors, mental health professionals, and members from the Office of Evangelization and Family Ministry of the Archdiocese of Denver.

“Statistically, people become more religiously involved when they have children, so we want to respond to people’s desires to reengage their faith with the coming of their child,” said Scott Elmer, Director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver and also a facilitator of the program, in a previous interview. “We want to be there to welcome them, celebrate the new life, and give them the tools they need to incorporate God into their home life.”

For Jim and Heidi, who are parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, the experience of having both the childbirth and Catholic aspects in this preparation did not disappoint, as they learned from each one.

“It was a great opportunity to come back and think about things from a basic level again and how to bring our child into the faith — things that you haven’t necessarily thought of or how you would teach a child something, [like praying],” Heidi said.

“Something we learned [that really made me reflect] was that the bond between me and Brady and between Heidi and Brady are very different. It happens at very different times,” Jim shared. “Right away when Heidi finds out she’s pregnant, then her bonding with Brady already starts all the way until Brady’s born. As a dad, it doesn’t start until he is born and I’m actually holding him.”

Heidi assured the concept of “gatekeeping” also helped them prepare for parenting better.

“[Gatekeeping] is when, as a mom, you get really wrapped up in, ‘Only I know how to change baby diapers, only I know how to feed the baby, only I know how to do this,’” Heidi explained. “And I am someone who I could’ve seen thinking that I could be the only person that knew how to take care of [my child]. But gaining that understanding helped us co-parent a lot easier from the very beginning because I was aware of it.”

“I would tell [expecting couples] that Catholic Baby University is a great place to start, to gain community, to meet other people that are in a similar place that you are in; having people in the same room who are just as excited, just as terrified who also want to learn,” Heidi concluded. “It’s just a really awesome opportunity to take advantage of.”