5:30 – 6:30pm

Pre-Conference Session

First Timers Overview

Facilitator(s): Joseph Stith and Tera Brown
Congratulations on attending your first North Star Conference! You are about to venture into an exciting, uplifting experience where you will get to meet other individuals who share your experience. This session will give you tips to ensure you are able to get the most out of your attendance.

6:30 – 9:00pm

Conference Kick-Off Social

Kick-off Social & Service Project

Location: Provo Recreation Center
The perfect opportunity to gather before the start of the conference and rekindle friendships as well as make new ones. There will be a light dinner served.

Youth Mixer

Location: Provo Recreation Center
To kick off the first North Star LGBT Youth Program, we want to get together and play some ice breaker games and begin the festivities.


9:00 – 10:30am

Opening Keynote Session

Presidents Address

North Star President, Joseph Stith
Joseph was elected to become the President of North Star International in August 2016.

Keynote Address

Speaker(s): Rebecca (Becky) and Bennett Borden
Bio: The Bordens are honored to speak at the 2017 North Star conference. Rebecca (Becky) and Bennett Borden lived most of their adult lives in same-sex relationships. They’ve known each other for nearly 30 years and have been married since 2013. They were sealed in the Washington D.C. temple in 2014 and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in the Spring of 2015, where they currently reside.

The Bordens have spoken at many events and firesides in the last few years. While they have a unique story in some ways, Bennett and Becky have realized that their experience is no different than anyone else who has been touched by the fullness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and have made their way back into the gospel. The Bordens are working on a book about their lives and journey and hope to share it with those who experience SSA and those who love, support, and serve them.


Breakout 1

The Worth of MY Soul is Great

Facilitator: Meg Johnson
We live in an increasingly critical world.  Have you ever begun to question your own self-worth? Learn to see the potential within yourself that the Lord sees. The worth of your soul is great in the sight of God.

Tools for Overcoming Compulsive Behavior

Facilitator: Danny Caldwell
Despite your best intentions, you’re not having success in overcoming unhealthy behaviors that rob you of peace and purpose. Perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. Discover tools, resources and best practices that will help you find lasting freedom from addiction.

Suicide Prevention

Facilitator: Dr. Ben Holt, MD
Many in our community struggle with suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Learn to recognize behaviors and thinking patterns within yourself and your loved ones that create and worsen suicidal thoughts and how to respond in appropriate, healthy ways.

When and How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Same Sex Attraction/Gender Dysphoria (Panel)

Facilitator: Dr. Jeff Case. PhD
At some point in your children’s lives, it may become appropriate or necessary to discuss your same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria with them. Hear from parents who have had just such conversations. Find out what worked and how to develop a healthy dialogue with your children.

Understanding the Transgender Experience (Panel)

Facilitator: Brandon Hannah Jenson
The transgender experience is often misunderstood even by those who love and support us.  Let’s take this opportunity to come together and listen to several transgender individuals as they help us better understand their experiences and let us know how we can better support and love our transgender friends.

Rebuilding Trust in Marriage

Facilitator: Alisha Worthington
How can you rebuild your relationship when trust has been violated? We’ll share stories and best practices for opening lines of communication and restoring trust to strained relationships.  Your marriage can return to being a source of strength and fulfillment again.

12:15 – 1:15 pm


1:30 – 2:30 pm

Breakout 2

A Modern Day Social Crisis:  Body Shame, Dieting and Disordered Eating

Facilitator: Dr. Nicole Hawkins
With the ever-increasing prevalence of dieting and disordered eating among woman and men, it is critical to determine how this is impacting body image, and contributing to the development of disordered eating and eating disorders. Current research on frequency of dieting will be presented and how dieting is associated with depression, low self-esteem, and disordered eating. The presentation will also address a non-diet approach as a solution for individuals that frequently are trapped in the diet dance.
Examine the role of negative body image, dieting and disordered eating in our culture.
Examine the past and current research on dieting and determine the truth about dieting.
Discuss a non-diet approach, Intuitive Eating, that helps individuals break free of the dieting

Be Still and Know: Showing Christ’s Love to Others Regardless of Their Path

Facilitator: Dr. Matt Draper, Elizabeth Snyder and James McGraw
The love of Christ applies to all of us, regardless of the challenges we face in life. Sometimes we forget this when our loved ones choose a path that we do not understand or disagree with. Our inability to convince them to stay on a path we believe is right for them can prompt us to feel helpless, and sometimes we inadvertently make the relationship worse when we try to help. The purpose of this presentation is to remind us all to trust in Christ’s eternal love and how we might embody this love for others regardless of the path they follow.

Living in the Gray: Healthy Grieving vs. Becoming a Victim

Facilitator(s): Kylee Shields
For most people it is either all or nothing-black or white. If there’s a plan then I either fit in it or I don’t. Either God loves me no matter what or He doesn’t. Either He hears my prayers and answers them or He must be punishing me. The reality is that much of life is lived in the gray. In this presentation we will be having the difficult discussion about the difference of going through difficult experiences in life and grieving them in a healthy way or choosing to become a victim. Come join the discussion to learn how to better balance your unmet expectations with gratitude.

Fostering Understanding and Support Within the Transgender Community

Facilitator(s): Brigit Pack
As a transgender individual, have you ever felt judged or alienated even from within the transgender community?  Join us in a heartfelt round table discussion as we seek to come together in a spirit of love and healing.  We need each other, and we can find strength and understanding as we seek to listen an honor each other in our journeys.

Honoring My Wife While Maintaining Close Male Friendships

Facilitator: Dr. Jim Mock
Every married person maintains important friendships outside of the marriage. In this session we’ll discuss how to find balance between your relationship with your wife and her needs with your need to maintain healthy male friendships.

Building Your Support Community as a Same Sex Attracted/Gay Woman (Panel)

Facilitator: Jenn Curtis
Do you have a strong support community to help you manage the struggles you face as an SSA/Gay woman?  Let’s discuss what has worked well for other women as they seek to build their own support communities, whether locally or across the world.  You may even meet other women who are eager to become part of your support network!

2:45 – 3:45 pm

Breakout 3

Gratitude & Grief: Finding Meaning in Seemingly Conflicting Emotions

Facilitator(s): Courtney Merrill
It can be tough to navigate seemingly conflicting emotions, especially when they are felt at the same time.  Have you ever felt like you shouldn’t feel sadness or grief because there is so much to be grateful for?  Join us as we discuss how to honor both feelings and find greater peace.

Finding Healing: Forgiving Myself & Others

Facilitator(s): Dr. Wendy Ulrich
The transformative power of the Atonement can heal even the deepest wounds. With the Lord’s help, burdens can be lifted, and friendships and famlily relationships can be healed. But forgiveness is more a process than an event. We’ll discuss how to start, how to move forward again when that process stalls, and how to know if forgiveness is even the issue.

Challenging Your Beliefs: Making the Gospel Work

Facilitator(s): Kyle Reid
When sexual orientation or gender dysphoria appears to be incongruous with one’s desire to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the internal conflict can be difficult to reconcile. In this session we’ll talk about how to make the Gospel work for you despite the internal struggle. You may find your sexuality and your faith are not as incompatible as you once thought.

Seeking a Higher Love: Loving Ourselves and Others in God’s Way

Facilitator: Ty Mansfield
How can I develop greater love for myself and others?  Learning to love as God loves can be challenging, especially when we’re surrounded with the world’s ideas of what love should look like.  Join Ty Mansfield, past president of North Star and co-author of “In Quiet Desperation” as he shares insights around God’s love and our capacity to develop this love.

Finding Joy in the Gospel as a Daughter of God (Who Also Happens to Experience Same Sex Attraction)

Facilitator(s): Becky Borden
Come talk with Rebecca (Becky) Borden and listen to her journey back into the Gospel after 20 years. Becky has experienced SSA her whole life, and will share both her experience and some of the tools she learned to help her find joy, peace and love in the Gospel as a daughter of God and in her eternal marriage. Bring your questions, your laughter and your love and join us for this special session for women (and those who love, support and serve them).

Strengthening Your Marriage With Your Transgender Spouse

Facilitator(s): Shannon Rants
Marriage to a transgender individual has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities.  Do you sometimes wonder if your marriage can survive and even thrive?  Join us as we share ways to strengthen your marriage and find greater peace and connection to your transgender spouse.

4:00 – 5:15 pm

Keynote Session

Keynote Address

Speaker(s): Tom Christofferson
Bio: Tom Christofferson has spent his career in investment management and asset servicing, living in Los Angeles, New York, Luxembourg, San Francisco, and London.  He is currently a senior executive of a New York-based firm providing transaction services to credit and debit card issuing banks.  He has served on corporate and non-profit boards, and currently is a director of Encircle, a group proving resources to support LGBTQ individuals and their families in Utah County, and a member of the national advisory council of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.  He is an active member of the LDS church, currently serving as a gospel doctrine teacher in his Salt Lake City ward.

5:30 – 6:15 pm

Special Performance

Musical Performance by Jason Lyle Black

Jason Lyle Black is an award-winning concert pianist, composer, and entertainer from Salt Lake City. Black has delighted audiences around the world with his piano comedy and his clever “musical story” videos. But even deeper than that, he is a pianist with a rich musical artistry.

Black is known to many as “The Backwards Piano Man®” for his viral music videos viewed by over 30 million people, which have been featured by Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, and other news outlets. In addition, Black performed live on the Ellen show in Hollywood and on television in Tokyo, Japan.


9:00 – 10:15am

Keynote Session

Keynote Address

Speaker(s): Ally Isom
Bio:  Ally Isom knows words have power, so she helps people feel the power of The Word. Ally is director of Institutional Messaging for the LDS Church, with responsibilities for integrated communications and global brand strategy. Her previous Public Affairs portfolio included women’s outreach, addressing the vestiges of racial folklore, and supporting leaders and managing the team who developed

With a background in communications, policy and politics, Ally was deputy chief of staff, communications director and spokesperson for Utah’s governor, a state agency administrator and a legislative liaison. She started in politics by running political campaigns between babies. Ally graduated from BYU-Provo, having married an Idaho farmboy following her freshman year. After 27 years, they have two daughters, two sons, one granddaughter and two not entirely smart labradors. When she finds free time, Ally enjoys historical fiction, preferably on a beach, and mole poblano, pretty much anywhere.


Breakout 4

Understanding Same Sex Attraction & Gender Dysphoria for Church Leaders

Facilitator(s): Joseph Stith, Kyle Merkley & Jeremy A.
Talking about sexual orientation or gender identity can be challenging and rewarding for both the individual and their church leaders. In this session we’ll explore some of the basics surrounding the complex feelings that same-sex attracted or transgender members of your ward may be experiencing and how you, as their leader and friend, can minister to them with love, compassion and understanding.

How Can Local Church Leaders Create a Welcoming Environment? (Panel)

Facilitator(s): Kurt Francom
Christ’s invitation to “come unto Him” is extended, of course, to all of God’s children – including those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. How can we create an environment where all can worship and be edified together? Kurt Francom, Executive Director and podcast host of LeadingLDS will facilitate a discussion with several church leaders who have successfully created a welcoming environment for all within their wards and stakes.

What Does It Mean to Be “Loving”, “Compassionate”, or “Inclusive” (and Why That Matters More Than We Think)

Facilitator(s): Jacob Hess
In public discussion about sexuality, it’s often taken for granted that we’re all on the same page about what something like “love” or “inclusion” actually means. As a result, most attention can be absorbed in sorting out people or institutions that qualify for these labels. But what if we profoundly disagree on the nature of love and inclusion (and lots of other stuff?) And what does it mean if we continue to not (really) talk about those differences? Come explore the potentially profound (and hidden) influences of language for decisions people make about family, marriage and faith.

Meeting My Core Needs as a Same Sex Attracted/Gay Man

Facilitator(s): Dave Matheson
Being a same-sex attracted/gay man includes unique needs that warrant our attention. How can you distinguish wants from needs? How do you work them into your life as a disciple of Christ? In this session, we will learn how we can meet our core needs within the bounds the Lord has set.

How to Live Without Fear and Have Peace – No Matter What

Facilitator(s): Kim Giles & Nicole Cunningham
Master Coaches Kim and Nicole will teach you how to live every moment without the fear of not being good enough or being afraid of things that might go wrong in the future. Yes this is possible!  You can learn our simple psychology methods to think and behave at your best and most loving.  Our simple system makes healthy psychology easy and it will drastically improve your life, relationships and give you the peace you are missing.

Making and Keeping Healthy Relationships with Other Women

Facilitator(s): Shannon Rants
As an SSA/Gay woman do you sometimes struggle to make and keep healthy relationships with other women?  This can be a challenge to many, but meaningful friendships are vital to our well-being and thus worth fighting for.  Join us as we share insights and successes with each other.

12:15 – 1:15pm


1:30 – 2:30pm

Breakout 5

Overcoming Codependency in Male Relationships

Facilitator(s): Mark Chamberlain
You’ve seen the word “codependency” thrown around in reference to relationships. But what exactly is codependency? As human beings, we are wired for intimacy and connection with other people, but how can we know when a relationship becomes unhealthy? In this session, we will find out how our own personal improvement and self-assurance can lead to healthy, more fulfilling relationships with other men.

Where Can I Turn for…? Utilizing the New Website in Personal, Family and Church Ministry

Facilitator(s): Steve Kohlert
Late last year the LDS Church went online with its website.  The name of the website reflects the intent that it be a resource to those for those who experience same-sex attraction or who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) and who desire to participate in their faith community; and to be a resource to church leaders, parents, and friends who are trying to support them. The website is intended as a starting place for open loving communication and a platform for personal revelation. The purpose of this session is to discuss the questions and challenges facing leaders and family as they provide support to a loved one who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as LGB and how the material on the website can help. We will have as valuable resources for our discussion some of those whose personal stories are featured on the website.

Trusting His Plan for My Life

Facilitator(s): Courtney Jensen and Rachelle Wofford
Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. This can be scary at times and leave us wondering what God’s will for us really is.  Come hear the remarkable story of Courtney and Rachelle’s lives as they have learned to trust in God’s guiding hand. Courtney Jensen

Understanding My Spouse’s Need for Friendships

Facilitator(s): Tera Brown, Tanya Bennion and Maryann Broberg
Some struggle to understand their spouse’s need for friendships. Same-gender friendships are vital for all people. Learn more about their need to connect and how you can help them cultivate meaningful and healthy friendships with others while honoring and strengthening your marriage.

Dry Bones Come Alive: Befriending Loneliness and Depression

Facilitator: Jodie Palmer
“You can’t get away from suffering. That’s the good news. For at the core of your most painful experiences, perhaps more than anywhere else, you will find the seeds of your awakening.”-Pema Chodron  Loneliness and depression will be our life companions in various intensity and frequency. By befriending our experiences of loneliness and depression, we can cultivate the courage to truly come alive.

Navigating Gender Dysphoria Within the Gospel

Facilitator(s): Sean Crandall
Navigating gender dysphoria within the gospel can be challenging. Often it feels like the many questions overwhelm the few answers, leaving us, our families, and our priesthood leaders walking rough and ill-defined roads. Listen to imperfect saints describe how they seek, with help from family and friends, to live Christ-centered lives while walking those difficult roads.

2:45 – 3:45 pm

Breakout 6

Finding Gold in Our Wounds: Seeking Wholeness in Christ

Facilitator(s): Spencer Thompson
All of us carry wounds of various sorts. With these wounds can come pain and heartache, and it can oftentimes feel easier to avoid facing our wounds all together.  However, if we choose to partner with Christ in facing our wounds and go deep into our hurts and heartaches, we can resurface on the other end a more whole and magnificent being. Come learn how partnering with Christ in facing the trials and difficulties around same-sex attraction and gender identity issues can truly help you to discover the gold so often buried beneath your wounds.

Making and Sustaining Healthy Male Connections (Panel)

Facilitator(s): Blaine Hickman
Through prophets and apostles, we have been given guidance about sexual relations and fidelity. What does that mean for SSA/gay people? Does that mean we have to go through life alone? Without love? The answer is a astounding “NO!” In this session, we will hear from several men as they share how they have built healthy relationships.

Loving and Supporting My SSA Child (Panel)

Facilitator: Lana Garfield
When a child reveals they experience same-sex attraction, this is a significant revelation. How can we, as loved ones, provide the encouragement, love and support they need to thrive? Hear from parents of SSA children and learn what has worked for them.

Lift Where You Stand: 5 Ingredients For a Successful Community Wherever You Are

Facilitator(s): Julio Ospina
Having a local support network with others who understand your journey is vital. This can be challenging whether you live in Provo or in Peoria. Hear from people who have found ways to do just that and are having success lifting where they stand. You’ll come away with best-practices you can start implementing right away wherever you live. You might be surprised how simple it is to create a community of like-minded people and to accelerate the globalization of North Star’s mission.

Supporting my Transgender Family Member (Panel)

Facilitator(s): Neca Allgood
Finding out that your loved one experiences gender dysphoria can leave family members wondering how to provide love and support in helpful ways. Join us as children and siblings of transgender members share their experiences. Their insights might be just what you’ve been looking for as you prayerfully seek to lift and love your transgender family member.

Becoming a “Joy Master”

Facilitator: Peggy Matheson
Even the best of marriages have their ups and downs. When you’re not feeling good about yourself, or when your marriage feels like it’s under attack, what can you do to shift to a place of joy? Join us and learn how to claim the joy that is yours, right now.

4:00 – 5:30 pm

Closing Keynote Session

Keynote Address

Speaker(s): Terryl and Fiona Givens
Bio: Fiona Givens was born in Nairobi, educated in British convent schools, and converted to the LDS church in Frankfurt-am-Main. Since retiring as a teacher of French and German in Richmond, Virginia schools, she has become a full-time independent scholar. Fiona is a frequent podcast speaker and presenter at conferences and Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women series, and has been published in Journal of Mormon History, LDS Living, Exponent II, Dialogue, and other venues. With Terryl Givens, she is the author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life, The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith, and the forthcoming The Christ Who Heals.

Terryl Givens is from the American southwest, served an LDS mission in Brazil, and did his graduate work in Intellectual History (Cornell) and Comparative Literature (Ph.D. UNC Chapel Hill). He is Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English and Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. He is the author of several books, including two studies of the Book of Mormon, a history of preexistence in Western thought, (When Souls had Wings), and a history of Mormon culture (People of Paradox). His first volume on the history of Mormon theology, Wrestling the Angel, was published by OUP in 2014. The sequel, titled Feeding the Flock: Church and Praxis, will be out in June. He is currently at work on a history of the Pearl of Great Price and a biography of Eugene England. Terryl and Fiona make their home on a few acres of woodland in Montpelier, Virginia.


9:00 – 11:00 am

Post-Conference Session

Experience Sharing Session

Facilitator: Joseph Allen Stith
Join us Sunday morning for an opportunity to share testimonies and experiences of how “The Worth of Souls” conference helped you come closer to Christ. Open to all.