FUNDING & GRANTS

Mission and vision:

Gay Christians at the Gay Christian Network ConferenceThe mission of Canyonwalker Connections is to repair the division that exists between social conservatives and conservative Christians and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community through education, training, and dialogue in both secular and religious environments.

It is the vision of Canyonwalker Connections to uncover and explore long-standing influences that have led to discrimination of the LGBT community. By increasing conversations and educating communities, the organization will discover solutions for broader inclusion of a historically marginalized community.

Purpose:

In recent years, there has been rising interest and involvement by the parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children within faith communities to stand in solidarity with their children when they come out. Canyonwalker Connections seeks to educate and empower this ever-growing population, individually and community-wide.

While many parents, families, and civic and faith community leaders are highly motivated to advocate for their family members, they have not had sufficient training to counter the discriminatory anti-gay and anti-transgender messages heard in both the conservative culture and churches. Similar issues exist within Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) groups. The educational programs, training, and leadership provided by Canyonwalker Connections will foster greater understanding and advocacy for social justice within the LGBT community.

Canyonwalker Connections is a woman-led organization based in Reno, Nevada.

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Kathy Baldock

Kathy Baldock

Organizational History:

Canyonwalker Connections was founded in 2011 by Executive Director Kathy Baldock to bridge the gap of understanding and communication between LGBT people and their families, as well as their civic and religious communities.

In 2001, Baldock, well insulated in a conservative Christian church, had no gay friends, and held tightly to the belief that one could not be both gay and Christian.

Netto & Kathy finishing the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail

Netto & Kathy finishing the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail

After befriending a fellow hiker – a gay, lesbian agnostic woman – on the trails near her home in the Sierra Nevada, her cultural attitudes toward the gay community were challenged and began to change. In 2007, Baldock became the first straight Christian to attend the Gay Christian Network (GCN) annual conference with the simple desire to explore the faith lives of LGBT people. The relationships established there set a direction for her to become an ally and eventually a strong advocate for LGBT people of faith in conservative Christian communities and beyond.

In 2010, Baldock began a blog at canyonwalkerconnections.com; she also began speaking for equality and inclusion in churches and at national conferences. After discovering her distinctive voice and perspective on the relationship between LGBT people and communities of faith, Baldock left her job as a successful sales person in the tech industry to make a significant impact for justice in speaking into the conservative faith communities she well understood.

Currently, Canyonwalker Connections is one of the foremost organizations working to educate and invite productive dialogue for both religious inclusion, and for social equality for the LGBT community. Initially, the advancement was accomplished mainly through a widely followed blog posting frequently; CWC receives tens of thousands of reads per month.

Baldock is the one of the most prominent female voices for inclusion of the LGBT community in conservative churches. She has published Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community and is one of the foremost experts in the history of the cultural and religious discrimination of the LGBT community speaking and writing about:

  • History of cultural and religious discrimination of the LGBT community
  • Psychological history of homosexuality, gender identity, and current status
  • Politics and policy
  • Sexuality, gender, and orientation
  • Biblical interpretations of same-sex behavior
  • History of HIV/AIDS
  • Mixed-orientation marriages
  • Reparative therapy
  • History and current status of the LGBT Christian movement
  • Becoming effective allies and advocates
  • LGBT youth
  • LGBT issues in minority communities

Granting and funding needs:

Canyonwalker Connections is seeking funding to hire staff, and expand the reach of the organization by education and training through engaging in dialogues centered on equality within both secular and religious environments.

Yvette Cantu Schneider

Yvette Cantu Schneider

The initial funding will used to pay Director Baldock an increase in salary, and to hire Yvette Cantu Schneider as National Director for Policy and Advocacy. Schneider was a former policy analyst and speaker for the Family Research Council, and was the head of Women’s Ministry at Exodus International.

Along with continuing onsite presentations, CWC is in the process of creating a new curriculum for repeatable six-week seminars and trainings specialized for targeted audiences: Christian parents of LGBT youth, PFLAG chapters, and GSAs. Presentations would still be offered onsite for congregational and civic attendee. All programs will include guided question and answer sessions designed to facilitate open dialogue.

The initial seminar series focuses on Christian parents of LGBT youth. Often, home church leadership sees parents as caring about LGBT inclusion only after their own child comes out. While these parents are highly motivated to advocate for safe places in faith communities, they typically have not had sufficient training and education to counter the discriminatory anti-gay and anti-transgender messages heard in both the conservative culture and churches. Canyonwalker Connections seeks to educate and empower them.

Yvette Cantu Schneider and Kathy Baldock

Yvette Cantu Schneider and Kathy Baldock

Likewise, within PFLAG chapters and GSAs, there is a similar lack of education about historical cultural and religious discrimination that includes resolution methods. Therefore, seminars and presentations will target high school and college students and PFLAGs. Since CWC’s inception, Ms. Baldock and her board of directors have established significant inroads of communication with these organizations.

It is the intent of Canyonwalker Connections to host a yearly conference (in year two of growth) held at first in Reno, Nevada focusing on a variety of possible themes and issues including, but not limited to:

  • History of cultural and religious discrimination of the LGBT community
  • Psychological history of homosexuality, gender identity, and current status
  • Politics and policy
  • Sexuality, gender, and orientation
  • Biblical interpretations of same-sex behavior
  • History of HIV/AIDS
  • Mixed-orientation marriages
  • Reparative therapy
  • History and current status of the LGBT Christian movement
  • Becoming effective allies and advocates
  • LGBT youth
  • LGBT issues in minority communities

Year one and two plans:

Budget needs– including equipment, online costs, travel to PFLAG chapters and conferences, and local schools — will be approximately $10,000.00 in year one and year two.

Walking the Bridgeless Canyon by Kathy BaldockWe will continue doing presentations educating on the historical cultural and religious discrimination of the LGBT community with focus on the specific teaching requested by the target groups including: cultural history, science, psychoanalysis, politics and/or religion, sex, gender and orientation, Bible interpretation, damaging effects of reparative therapy and mixed orientation marriages, advocacy, and current policy and public dialogue.

Presentations have already been given in: churches, conferences, LGBT centers, GSAs, and other public settings.

CWC is creating several repeating 6-week online seminars/presentations including Q & A interaction, to be repeated several times yearly for target groups. The initial series focuses on Christian parents of LGBT youth.

Often, parents are seen by home church leadership as “having an agenda.” While these Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 10.32.33 PMparents of LGBT children are highly motivated to advocate for their families, they typically have not had sufficient training and education to counter the anti-gay and anti-trans messages heard in both the conservative culture and churches. We seek to educate and empower them.

Because similar situations exist in PFLAGS and Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs),  subsequent studies/presentations will target educating and fostering advocacy in PFLAGS and GSAs  in high schools and colleges.

Canyonwalker Connections already has established significant inroads in all three of these venues (parents, PFLAGS and GSAs).

Year two through five plans:

Continuing all activities and programs above, with the addition of conferences to include topical experts from subject matter covered in Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community. Reno is proposed as the possible base of once/twice each year conferences. (Access to facilities, hotels, year-round recreation, and ease of airport. Both Baldock and Schneider reside in Reno.)

Budget needs for two conferences, based in Reno: $60,000 to $90,000.

TRP_0744-2Marriage equality will force conversation for inclusion in conservative churches more quickly than they can navigate. As this happens, more conservative church leaders will be in need of education. One conference might be more focused to the needs and privacy of  religious leaders, while the other will be more generic.

Conference/presentation topics include:

  • The history of cultural and religious discrimination of the LGBT community
  • Psychological history of homosexuality, gender identity, and current status
  • Politics and policy
  • Sexuality, gender, and orientation
  • Biblical interpretations of same-sex behavior
  • History of HIV/AIDS
  • Mixed-orientation marriages
  • Reparative therapy
  • History and current status of the LGBT Christian movement
  • Becoming effective allies and advocates
  • LGBT youth
  • LGBT issues in the Asian/black/people of color communities

Online and print work of Canyonwalker Connections:

Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community, published October 2014

Canyonwalker Connections blog: www.canyonwalkerconnections.com

Online webinar series.

Sisters of Thunder Podcasts

Canyonwalker on Youtube:

Kathy & Justin

Kathy & Justin

Matthew Vines & Kathy Baldock

Matthew Vines & Kathy Baldock

Kathy Baldock also serves on the Board of two major advocacy non-profits: The Reformation Project and the Gay Christian Network.

Organizational history:

Kathy Baldock speaking on LGBT inclusion and the history of discrimination of the LGBT community in America

Radio interview on AmericaMatters.us, The Chip Evans Show (May 2015) — 96 minutes with commercials cut.

Radio interview with Chip Evans Show August 2015

Longer version of Presentation Excerpts (26 minutes)

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LGBT civil rights, LGBT history, Bible and homosexuality, gay Christian, transgender Christian, advocate, advocacy, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon, Kathy Baldock, homosexuality and Bible, LGBT rights, Yvette Cantu Schneider, Sisters of Thunder