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Plenary speaker, Gayle Gerber Koontz

Plenary speaker, Gayle Gerber Koontz

Equipping churches to nurture healthy sexuality

Gladys Terichow
December 9, 2009


WINNIPEG, Man.—What is healthy sexuality and how can churches nurture it?
A one day educational conference taking place February 6, 2010 at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg aims to equip churches and individuals to promote and nurture healthy sexuality.
The conference will focus on healthy intimate relationships, self-esteem and a church’s response to those who are hurting, said Jane Woelk, who is working with a 13-member committee to plan the event.
“We are the church—we have all experienced pain,” said Woelk, coordinator of Voices for Non Violence, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba program that addresses issues of domestic violence and abuse.
 “The Nurturing Healthy Sexuality conference is for anyone who has struggled with difficult situations and for those who want to respond to others in a Christ-like way.”
Through plenary sessions, workshops and worship sessions, participants will explore issues such as youth and young adults and their views on healthy sexuality, healthy intimate relationships among couples, singles and sexuality, same-gender attraction and relationships and the harmful effects of pornography.
These discussions will help participants learn more about biblical and theological perspectives on sexuality, obstacles to healthy sexuality in society and the church and the importance of showing love, concern and compassion when responding to individuals and families experiencing painful situations.
The theme song selected for the conference, Let us widen our tents, describes a supportive environment that can nurture healthy sexuality, explained Woelk. The song was written by Judith Snowdon, a director of MCC Canada’s Maritime program.
The lyrics are: Let us open our eyes to injustice around us, let us hear with our ears the expression of pain, let us pray that our hearts can receive understanding, so that love can restore us to wholeness again.”
“It is about showing Christ-like love to all individuals,” said Woelk. “The most important thing is listening, hearing the pain and seeking to respond as Christ would.”
The plenary speaker, Dr. Gayle Gerber Koontz, a professor at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN, has extensive experience teaching and writing on the topic of healthy sexuality and relationships. Professionals in their respective fields will be serving as workshop facilitators.
The agencies that are working together to plan this event, as well as those sponsoring it financially are Canadian Mennonite University, Evangelical Mennonite Church, Genesis House, Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, Mennonite Church Manitoba, Recovery of Hope and MCC Manitoba.
Visit for more information and registration forms. You may also call 925-1920 or 1-866-530-4450 or send an email message to