Pastors’ Learning Cohort

Sexuality and Gender: Care and Clarity


Many churches hold to the biblical, historic view of marriage and have focused on doctrinal clarity on sexuality and gender. Doctrinal clarity, however, does not always translate into clarity regarding good pastoral care for LGBT+ people in the church. Churches have numerous leaders and volunteers who may interact with LGBT+ Christians but who lack training about how to walk well with them. As a result, churches who are clear on doctrinal matters are not as clear about what discipleship for LGBT+ people look like. This learning cohort will equip you and your church to grow in clarity regarding teaching, pastoral care, and discipleship for LGBT+ people.


Pastors: Pastors will participate in the cohort reading and monthly in-person cohort conversations with the goal of implementing a plan for equipping those in their church in partnership with The Foundry (see objective 4 below).

Churches: In addition to equipping pastors, churches can invest in workshops for leaders (elders, deacons, youth workers, parents, etc.) who would benefit from further training in this area.

Note: cohorts have a maximum of 10 pastor participants.


Pastor participants will:

  1. Gain greater understanding of the terminology used in contemporary gender and sexuality conversations.
  2. Understand past paradigms that have informed poor models of care and discipleship for LGBT+ people.
  3. Identify and explore best practices for including and ministering to LGBT+ people in churches that hold to the biblical, historic view of marriage.
  4. Develop and implement a plan for equipping leaders in your church on these matters.

Schedule, Location & Time Commitment

The learning cohort will meet monthly for 9 months (Aug. 2022-April 2023). We will kick off the cohort with an initial retreat (if local) or introductory session (if virtual) to connect and get to know each other. We will then meet once a month for 2 hours/session. We will read approximately 4 books over the course of this time.

The dates for the cohorts are as follows:

Aug. 24 (initial introduction and retreat).
Sept. 7, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Dec. 7, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, Mar. 1, Apr. 5


The in-person cohort meets at 9:30 am at The Foundry @ Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. 

The virtual cohort meets at 1 pm Eastern time at the provided meeting link. 


Dr. Branson Parler and Dr. Jeff Fisher are professors and ordained pastors who have engaged matters of sexuality and gender in a wide variety of academic, denominational, and pastoral contexts. Jeff has led workshops and class sessions on these topics and served on a study committee regarding same-sex marriage. Branson is the author of the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality, serves as part of the collaborative leadership team of The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, and is the author of the forthcoming Every Body’s Story: Six Myths about Sex and the Gospel Truth about Marriage and Singleness (Zondervan, 2022)

Cost and Registration

The cost for pastor participants in the in-person cohort is $1,250. The cost for pastor participants in the virtual cohort is $1,000. A space can be reserved with a deposit of $250 with the remaining invoiced later.

In addition to the group participation, this cost includes up to three 1-hour coaching calls with a Foundry team member. The Foundry will also facilitate workshops for participant churches using our sliding scale based on church size.

Participants must register (including payment) by August 10. Each cohort will have maximum of 12 participants. Cohorts are filled on a first come, first serve basis, so participants are encouraged to register and pay as soon as they are able.