In most ways, Tom Christofferson’s spiritual journey was not unlike that of many gay Mormons.
Christofferson grew up in a close-knit LDS family, attended Brigham Young University, served a Mormon mission to Canada, and then married a woman. (The marriage didn’t last more than a few months.)
His faith in LDS teachings went deep, but so did his sexual identity.
So Christofferson asked for excommunication from the LDS Church and lived as a gay man, including finding a permanent partner.
The rest of his story, though, differed from some gay Mormons.
His family, which includes a brother, LDS apostle D. Todd Christofferson, continued to love him without reservation, Tom Christofferson said last month in a speech in Arizona.
"Quite soon after I came out, [my parents] took an opportunity to express to my brothers and their wives their determination that nothing would be allowed to break the circle of love that binds all of us together as a family. As they expressed it, while none of us is perfect as individuals, we can be perfect in our unconditional love for each other."
About seven years ago, Christofferson found himself yearning to reconnect with his Mormon community. So he began attending LDS services in Connecticut.
His LDS bishop, Bruce Larson, welcomed Christofferson and his partner to worship with the congregation.
This week, Christofferson and Larson will be on a panel at a two-day conference sponsored by North Star, a group that serves same-sex attracted Latter-day Saints "who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines and values of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The meeting, which starts Thursday evening with a picnic and runs through Saturday afternoon, will include presentations by Brigham Young University religion professors Robert Millet and Camille Fronk Olson, LDS psychologist Wendy Ulrich, North Star President Ty Mansfield and a host of other scholars, therapists and entertainers from the Mormon and North Star communities.
Separate workshops are organized for men; women; transgender; spouses of gays; parents, friends and family members; and ecclesiastical leaders.
Organizers hope to provide a "safe place," they write on the group’s website, for participants to learn about these issues.
"Being women and men seeking to be like Jesus, we can be consistently diligent in seeking out those who seem alone or uncomfortable in our wards and taking the initiative to make them feel welcome," Christofferson said in Arizona. "We can be first to utter the kind word; first to offer praise; last to criticize or find fault."
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