Beyond Binaries Conference 2023

Pastors in Exile is pleased to announce the return of the Beyond Binaries Conference with a focus on creating an affirming church for queer, trans, and nonbinary youth.

Join us for a day of celebration and learning together as the beloved, rainbow community of God.

Beyond Binaries is a day to celebrate the gifts of the Queer community to the church. Come away with inspiration and resources for the work of creating radically inclusive churches.

Whether you are a church leader or simply interested in this work, join the conversation with Queer Christians and other affirming churches. Come with an open heart, a curious mind, and a creative spirit as we listen for how the Spirit is moving us beyond binaries.

The conference is happening June 17th from 9am-4pm at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate (110 Doon Rd, Kitchener). Lunch is included.

Registration fees:

$0 – Queer Youth (under 25)

$35 – Student/Underemployed

$70 – I need some subsidy

$100 – Full cost

$135 – Help cover someone else’s cost

Registration fees may be sent by e-transfer to before the event, or paid on day-of with cash/cheque.

Registration closes on Saturday, June 10!

Schedule for Beyond Binaries 2023:

8:45-9:00 am – Arrival and Registration
9:15- 10:00 am – Opening Worship
10:05- 10:35 am – 2SLGBTQ+ 101 Session
10:40- 11:00 am – Break
11:00- 11:45 am – Workshop One
11:45- 12:45pm Lunch
12:45- 1:30 pm – Workshop Two
1:35- 2:20 pm – Workshop Three
2:20- 2:40 pm – Break
2:40- 3:25 pm – Panel
3:30- 4:00 pm – Closing Session

Tentative Workshop Titles:
*See descriptions and facilitator bios below

  • Supporting Queer Youth in the Coming Out Process
  • Queer Joy
  • Worshipping Beyond 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion: Liberating Worship from Oppressive Systems
  • Accessing Affirming Care for Gender Diverse Youth
  • Queering Our Theology
  • Attending Within: The Inner Work of Allyship
  • Parents’ Circle

Have questions? Contact Steph Chandler Burns at

Workshop Descriptions and Facilitator Bios
*Please note that descriptions and bios are in the process of being updated

Accessing Affirming Care for Gender Diverse Youth

Workshop Description: Research has demonstrated overwhelmingly positive outcomes from youth being able to access gender-affirming care. In this workshop we will explore the many forms of gender-affirming care, how we can best support youth who are accessing or hoping to access gender-affirming care, and what parts of gender-affirming care we can incorporate into our day to days lives.

Facilitator Bio: Erin Huston (she/her) is the Program Lead of OK2BME. Following her Masters at Laurier in Social Justice and Community Engagement, Erin has worked with non-profits focusing on public education and community facilitation work, exploring conversations about identity, belonging, relationships, and self-esteem using a trauma-informed, anti-oppressive lens.

OK2BME is a program within Camino Wellbeing + Mental Health located in the Waterloo Region. We offer programming and services built to support 2SLGBTQIA+ children, teens, adults, and their families across the region and beyond. This includes individual, family, and relationship counselling, group therapy, recreational youth programming, and public education.

Queering Our Theology

Workshop Description: Our theology is what we think/know/believe about God. It’s important because everything we do, where we spend our time, and how we care for each other and the world is influenced by what we believe about the divine and the divine’s role in the world. How does what we think/know/believe about God impact what we think/know/believe about queer and trans people? How do we examine our beliefs in order to create safer spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ persons in our churches and our world? 

Facilitator Bio: Steph Chandler Burns (they/them) is a bisexual, genderqueer, nonbinary pastor living in Kitchener, ON on the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee and Neutral peoples. Steph loves thinking and talking about the ways the Bible tells stories of people who broke with social norms, and believes God’s pronouns are (among others) they/them. Steph lives with their partner, Greg, and cat, Lulu. Together, they play a lot of board games, eat a lot of snacks, and dream about an inclusive future for the church. 

Worshipping Beyond 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion: Liberating Worship from Oppressive Systems

Workshop Description: Rev Michiko (they/them) will be sharing stories and ideas from their experiences of over a decade of 2SLGBTQ+ justice work, community building, and more within The United Church of Canada. Let us learn, share, and celebrate the ways in which 2SLGBTQ+ people can enrich our church and strengthen our faith, through exploring together practical ways to make worship spaces places of liberation for 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

Facilitator Bio: Michiko Bown-Kai is minister in The United Church of Canada who is passionate about social justice and creative expression. Michiko studied Social Justice and Peace Studies and Political Science at the University of Western Ontario before attending Emmanuel College for their Master of Divinity program.

Over the past decade Michiko has engaged in ministry in many forms: as a Sunday School coordinator, program coordination at The United Church’s General Council Office, a youth group leader, an intern minister at East End United Regional Ministry, and most recently as the minister at Glen Morris United Church. 

Michiko is always excited to learn more about cultures, languages, and nature. You can often find Michiko biking, highland dancing, or befriending as many dogs as possible. 

Parents’ Circle

Workshop Description: When your child comes out, there is a lot of new information to process as a parent. You might reflect on your dreams for your child, need to learn about how to better advocate with them, or wonder if you’re able to be supportive enough. In this Parents’ Circle, we’ll make space to process together the things we are learning, our own feelings around queerness and the church, and dream together about the world we want to create for our kids. 

Facilitator Bio: Margaret Andres (she/her) is a registered social worker with over 20 years of experience working with and supporting children, youth, and families through life’s many transitions. She currently teaches junior high students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. Though professional work has brought much learning and satisfaction, her biggest growth and joy comes from her roles as parent and partner within a family of five (plus an adorable senior dog) that experiences richness through various identities that fit within the “queer” umbrella. Margaret welcomes opportunities to discuss and learn more about what parenthood looks like when blessed with kids who identify as diverse with respect to gender and/or orientation. 

Attending Within: The Inner Work of Allyship

Workshop Description: Allyship is often about action: educating, speaking up, organizing, protesting. But our allyship needs to be anchored in the work of attending within: bringing awareness to difficult to acknowledge feelings, unconscious biases, and ways of seeing ourselves that might obstruct our ability to be less reactive and more compassionately grounded in our allyship.

This workshop offers a space for rainbow allies to explore their inner worlds. Through reflective exercise, contemplative practice, and conversation, this workshop will invite you to tend to your own heart/mind/body as you engage with the work of building a more deeply inclusive church.

Facilitator Bio: Tamara Shantz works as a spiritual director and Enneagram teacher. She is passionate about the intersections of contemplative spirituality and social justice, among many other things! She lives in the Cherry Park neighbourhood of Kitchener with her partner Gini, and their two beloved cats, Izzy and Melas.


PiE would like to say a very big thank you to the sponsors that are making Beyond Binaries possible!

St. Jacob’s Mennonite Church
Waterloo North Mennonite Church