Darren Calhoun is a justice advocate, worship leader, and photographer based out of Chicago. He works to bridge relationships between people of differing perspectives through story and relationship. Intersectionality is his primary lens when facilitating dialogue and education about justice and inclusion for people marginalized based on race, gender, and/or sexuality. He’s co-lead the #ImSorry and #MakeLoveLouder campaigns at Chicago’s Gay Pride parades and volunteers with organizations like The Gay Christian Network, the Center for Inclusivity, and The Reformation Project. Currently, Darren is Worship Leader at Urban Village Church – South Loop, Associate Fellow for Racial Justice at Evangelicals for Social Action, in addition to owning Darren Calhoun Photography. He’s also an extrovert who loves hugs.
In his youth, Darren first joined St. Felicitas Catholic Parish where he was baptized and confirmed. In College he co-founded the AFC Upper Room campus ministry and would be ordained as a minister by the Ambassadors For Christ World Outreach Ministries at only 19 years old. During his youth and college years, he cultivated a range of creative interests including photography, founding three dance teams, becoming a self-taught graphic designer and web designer, and eventually being trained in grassroots community organizing. Each of these skills would continue to be foundational for the creative ways that Darren engages people in worship spaces as well as around justice issues.
Darren’s story also includes being hurt by the church. At least 16 years of his church experience can be marked by the sometimes devastating struggle to be understood and supported by church communities. Darren credits a God-given resilience to his continued dedication to church communities in spite of the ways that churches have often mishandled him in the past. His experiences with rejection, toxic communities, poor policy, and bad theology have instilled in him a sensitivity for many communities who are marginalized by churches including women, people of color, gender and sexual minorities, non-Christians, and people living with disabilities. It is his hope to see the religious communities continuously growing in ways that are inclusive and safe for everyone in and around them.