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Meet our Gender Diversity Listening Session Guest Speakers

On Friday, September 10th as part of the Bishop's Installation weekend, a group of gender diverse faith leaders will discuss the joys and struggles of ministry in the Church. All are welcome to attend this listening session, we hope you will listen and learn toward action. More information on the Gender Diversity Listening Session here.


Here are the guest speakers who will be joining us!


Vance Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the Desk Director for American Indian Alaska Native Tribal Nations. An alum of Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Vance has previously served the ELCA in multiple

capacities, from taking a post as National President of the Lutheran Youth Organization during his TLU days, to later working as a diversity and cultural education professional for the Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, California Lutheran University, ELCA Youth Gathering, and LSTC’s Youth in Mission. In addition to serving numerous ELCA and ecumenical teams and committees throughout the years, he is at present the Indigenous Theologian and Coordinating Team Member for the ELCA’s Theological Round Table, as well as creator and producer of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium hosted at LSTC. Vance is also the founder and director of Other+Wise, a multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country. He has also previously served as the Director of Communications at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, as the Director of Communications for Native Americans in Philanthropy, and has held executive director positions at the Haskell Foundation, which supports Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Oaks Indian Mission. Vance served as the Guest Curator of the Indian Museum at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, and presently serves as the Indigenous Theologian for the Faith-Based Initiative for the City of San Antonio, where he currently resides.


Barbara Peronteau was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a place where she never lived. She grew up near Pittsburgh, San Rafael, and the suburbs of Philadelphia. Barbara was baptized and confirmed Lutheran (LCA). When Barbara was five years old, she had a revelation about herself that would change her life. It was at her Kindergarten Christmas Party when she first knew she was a girl. For the next 50 years Barbara remained closeted. In the meantime, Barbara graduated from Lynchburg College with her BA in History and Political Science. In 1988 she received her M. Div. from then Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (kna Union Presbyterian Seminary). A week later Barbara was ordained at Old First Church, UCC in Philadelphia. She went on to serve churches in Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. At the age of 55 Barbara could no longer put one foot in front of the other without emerging and becoming her elegant and lovely true self. In January of 2010 Barbara began her transition process. She would lose her job, marriage, and house. Keeping her dog and car Barbara remained unemployed for the next 29 months until she got a part-time job at Wal*Mart. In 2016 Barbara entered a year-long CPE program as a resident chaplain at the Reading Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 2017 Barbara moved to Berkeley, California where she now lives with her long-lost love, Susan, from 30 years ago, and their cat, Miley. From 2018- 2021 Barbara served an ELCA Church in San Leandro, CA as their intentional Interim Pastor, and is now serving as Bridge Pastor at Arlington Community Church, United Church of Christ in Kensington, CA.


The Rev. Drew Stever (they/he) serves as Lead Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, CA. They came out as transgender one month before the 2016 presidential election and has found comfort in the freedom of the gospel ever since. Drew is passionate about empowering the LGBTQIA+ community, growing intersectional LGBTQIA-centric worship communities and experiences, and educating congregations about LGBTQIA+ issues, language, and experiences. Drew received their B.A. in religion from Hamline University and their Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, both in St. Paul, MN where they were born and raised. Drew now lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with their family and is an avid front yard birdwatcher.


The Rev. Peter Beeson, (he/him/his) serves St. John’s Lutheran Church in Madison, WI and is Assistant to the Bishop for Generosity in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. A man of trans experience he thrives at the intersection of faith, finance, and real estate and encourages congregations and faith-based organizations to use their assets for good. Having initiated capital campaigns and projects at three congregations he has served, he and St. John’s are embarking on their most ambitious project yet – to transform their sanctuary into a ten story building with 100+ units of affordable housing for people working in restaurants, retail and service sector jobs, with worship, social service, and vibrant community space on the first floor. Peter is awed by the way transitioning parallels the dying and rising to new life God calls us to as the church. He uses his unique experience to accompany parishioners through the grief of giving up the ‘bricks and mortar’ of what was into the transformation and resurrection offered by God.


The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer (they/he) is Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Bishop Megan, the first openly transgender pastor ordained in the Lutheran church, was ordained Extraordinarily in 2006. One of 18 pastors ordained during the time when the ELCA did not allow LGBT pastors to serve openly. In 2010, Bishop Megan was one of the first seven pastors received into the ELCA after their policies changed. On May 8, 2021 they were elected as the first openly transgender Bishop in a mainline Christian denomination. Before serving as Bishop, they served as Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco, Community Chaplain Coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department and Executive Director of Welcome with the LGBTQ+ Homeless Community in San Francisco. Bishop Megan is an award winning filmmaker, musician and historian and has been featured on Queer Eye, Cosmo, People and in Wittenberg, Germany for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Bishop Megan lives near Golden Gate Park with their wife Laurel, two children and two cats.


Vica Steel (She/Her) is a woman. She is transgender. And she is starting her journey at the age of 56 toward becoming a faith leader. She could tell you all the joy and pain and hope that is embedded in those sentences, but this is a bio, not a book! She can tell you though, that she has been warmed by the welcome she has received from her churches in Madison (Midvale Lutheran and St. John’s) as well as the abundant love from the seminary she has just started attending, Wartburg Theological Seminary. As a child, Vica dreamt of becoming a priest, and though she wore the seeming of a boy, and though the entirety of society insisted she was a boy, she knew she wasn’t. She knew she was not welcome in her full truth. Now she is defiant in her love and her mission. She is doing the work to join other progressive faith leaders expressing Jesus’ radical Love through TikTok (@VicaSteel) and her blog (Qwest.SubStack.com) and other spaces and times authentic in the moment and she is starting a new role as Parish Associate with St. John’s Lutheran in Madison, WI.

She lives with her powerful wife (35 years in joy) surrounded by a family of friends and the love of community.

The Rev Dr. Dawn Roginski (they/them) grew up in cold MN and has a background in mental health. Dawn attended Luther Seminary and the wonderful adventure began. Dawn was ordained extraordinem in June of 2007 and spent all their ministry in the Sierra Pacific synod. The ministry varied from associate pastor to working with the Coalition of Welcoming pastor, to DMin student, to senior pastor and now interim pastor. Unpaid ministry includes serving on and chairing the synod's Witness Disciple team and chairing the board of Welcome Ministries. Dawn identifies as agender, which means they do not identify as either male or female. How Dawn presents in clothing and other gender markers varies. There is a preference for gender-neutral pronouns and if you have questions on how to do that, ask.

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