The Gay Christian Network Conference 2017 Recap: Reflections, Setlist, and Videos! #GCNconf

Hey Friends! 

I had an amazing time leading worship at the 2017 GCN Conference.  A few folks have asked about my experience as well as a copy of the set lists so here we go!  

I’m still in awe. I’m writing this weeks after the conference and the awe of being asked to serve as worship leader for this conference still amazes me.  For those who don’t know my story, I’m someone who was told by church leaders that God would never fully use me because I’m gay or that people would never see me as a man of God because of my sexuality.  Years later I’m seeing every one of those words fall to the ground as amazing opportunities to lead and be an advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in churches continue spring up on my path. 

I also had the honor of assembling a world-class team of LGBTQ people and allies. Many of us share the similar stories of being wounded by churches and church leaders and being part of an event like this – while sometimes difficult – is cathartic and redemptive in ways that we can’t fully describe.  When possible I’ll do follow-up posts with stories that I have permission to share.

For those who couldn’t be at the conference or who missed the live stream, videos are here! Our team led worship for the first three general sessions of the conference, which all can be viewed on GCN’s YouTube page (Session 1, Session 2Session 3, Session 4 – Liturgical Worship).  Additionally, please enjoy the keynote speakers who’s talks are also on these videos.

I’ve created a Spotify playlist with most of the songs we shared. You can follow that playlist here

I wanted to be very intentional about the song selections for the conference. With 1400 people in attendance all coming from different churches, denominations, theological leanings, and musical preferences, creating a worship experience for us to have TOGETHER required some intentionality.  Fortunately, this is something that I strive to do year-round, GCN being no different. Our selections tried to incorporate songs that would be familiar when possible or easy to pick-up and follow-along if it was your first time singing it.  The songs range from hymns to gospel to contemporary Christian music and included a bilingual worship song.  We also tried to be mindful of the messages and language of each song to be sure that the sets were as accessible to a wide an audience as possible.  I’m still learning and there are lots of places where I can do better at this, but I think it’s worth the extra effort. 

One of the songs that are not on Spotify is “Room For Us All” by The Many.  In 2016 I started singing with this group and I LOVE the music that we’re making together. You may download the song for free here along with other music from The Plural Guild.  Something I secretly hoped for while we were singing this song is that while we repeat the chorus of “We are on this earth to love” that people would hold hands or lock arms and sing this… and it happened! It’s the little things that make my heart glad. 🙂

Below is the written setlist and after that some cameraphone photos and screen shots of what people shared about the conference on Twitter. 

Thanks for following my grand adventure and stay tuned for more! 

Session 1 – Thursday:

  • Lord, You’re Worthy
  • Medley: Set A Fire, Always, Ever Be, Simple Gospel
  • My World Needs You
  • You Are Good (in Spanish and English)

Session 2 – Friday:

  • Reprise of “You Are Good”
  • For Those Tears I Died
  • Simple Gospel
  • In Christ Alone with On Christ The Solid Rock
  • Glorious

Session 3 – Saturday:

  • Here’s My Heart
  • Deep Cries Out
  • Old School Medley: We Bring The Sacrifice of Praise, In The Name of Jesus, Victory is Mine, 
  • “Here’s My Heart” (Reprise)
  • My World Needs You (Reprise) with Isaiah 58 Spoken Word
  •  Room For Us All
  • Hold Us Together 

Session 3 – Continued at Offering: 

  • Chase Away my Dark
  • It Is Well

Faith and Sexuality Dialogue in Philly: Oriented to Love

Thursday through Saturday I’ll be in Philadelphia for Oriented To Love: a dialogue about Faith and Sexuality. The dialogue is sponsored by Evangelicals for Social Action.

The event aims to bring various people and perspectives together to listen and understand. More details about the event are here:

I would really appreciate it if you kept me in your thoughts and or prayers this weekend!  I’m continuing my efforts of engaging churches and communities on the intersections of race, sexuality, and reconciliation.

– Darren

Upcoming Events with Darren Calhoun: June 2015

Tonight (6/9/2015) I’ll be hosting a Living In The Tension gathering for The Marin Foundation. 7pm at First Free Church (5255 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60640). 

We’ll be looking at and discussing the history and influence of LGBT rights movements. Everyone is welcome. This is a safe space to learn and ask questions. These gatherings are inspired by Dr. King’s ideas of constructive tension where we intentionally spend time with those who may not agree with us for the purpose of building understanding across various divides. 
Details and upcoming dates can be found here: LINK:

 photo by @NVphotography  
Additionally, we’ll be continuing the “I’m Sorry” campaign at Chicago’s Pride Parade on June 28th. The idea is that as Christians we go out to apologize for the ways the church has harmed LGBT communities as well as commit to making things better within church communities. This isn’t about condoning or condemning, rather we are there to listen and show love in tangible ways (free hugs are welcome too!).

Details about the history and purpose of the campaign are here: Link: 
Lastly, this week on Thursday I’ll be part of The Reformation Project’s Atlanta regional training conference. I’m part of a team that will conduct the Accademy For Racial Justice – a one day workshop on racial reconciliation and justice. 

On Thursday night I’ll be part of the LGBT 101 panel discussion. This panel is aimed at teaching people the basics of how to engage with LGBT folks (do’s and don’ts) from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christians. 
It will be live-streamed as well as archived on YouTube. I don’t have the live stream link yet but details are posted here: and follow the hashtag #TRPinATL on social media.  

If nothing else, your prayers and good thoughts are requested and appreciated. If you can, tune in, show up, and or tell a friend. 


Why we said “I’m Sorry” at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade

Photo Credit: Michelle at

Hey Friends and Family,

I just wanted to share a blog post that beautifully sums up the “I’m Sorry” campaign I participated in at the Gay Pride parade in Chicago this past Sunday with The Marin Foundation.  The echoing reactions have been powerful and people across the country have been inspired to take action toward reconciliation with the Gay community.

From Nathan’s Blog Post:

“What I saw and experienced at Pride 2010 was the beginning of reconciliation. It was in the shocked faces of gay men and women who did not ever think Christians would apologize to them.”

Photo Credit: Michelle at Continue reading “Why we said “I’m Sorry” at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade”

…and a New Chapter Begins

Some stories have to be told and retold when the goal is authentic understanding. We must have understanding to make action effective.

In many ways I feel like I’ve told my “same old sad story” about the challenges I’ve faced in life and specifically in church.  Because I hear myself tell it so much, I feel like I’m going to be that old guy who is always reliving war stories and never really doing much else.  Today in part helped me realize that that’s not the case for me.  The reality is that I’m meeting new people and building brand-new relationships.  These new people don’t instantly get a complete picture of me so I have to over time share more of myself with them.  The beauty about that is that we grow closer in the process and I gain a bit more understanding each time.  Also, the purpose of sharing my story isn’t to relive it, but rather to learn more about my process and to take action in writing a new ending.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)

Today I had a long over-due meeting with my church.  I was able to share some very personal and raw areas of my life and get a renewal of their commitment to walk with me through it all.  Because of some very negative experiences in similar situations in the past, events like these stir apprehension and fear. What’s amazing is to go into a situation that has turned out so terribly in the past and to discover that there are other healthy people out there who have the same goals and aspirations as you do.  It’s so affirming to be in a healthy church even though it’s not a perfect church.  I underlined “to each other” and “for each other” in the above scripture because the events of today underscored the two-way  relationship of accountability and healing in relationships. Each party must be able to own their part of what’s wrong, but also pray and support the other.

*Sigh* this is all vague now, but I hope to begin to retell this story with clarity soon. Thanks for listening.


eric diaz

Willow Chicago’s First Worship Arts Reception Was A HIT!

WCC_ARTS-2009 Reception PhotoThis summer I attended a workshop at the Willow Creek Arts Conference this Summer.  Jason Hatley of the Journey Church led an AWESOME workshop that was the foundation for this event.   I just wanted to share with you the exciting news about our first Worship Arts Reception.  We had 45 RSVP’s but only 20 of those who RSVP’d showed up.  However we had 60 people come to the reception unregistered totaling at LEAST 80 in attendance.  The room was PACKED!

A few things that I think worked for us:
Continue reading “Willow Chicago’s First Worship Arts Reception Was A HIT!”

Notes from Wonder09 Breakout Sessions

to WorshipBelow is a continuation of my series of notes from Wonder, the Willow Creek Arts Conference 2009.  Click here for notes from Day 1. These notes are from Day 2 – the breakout sessions where we were able to pick sessions that most interested us.  Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments as well.  If you attended other workshops, share the link to your posts about them here as well!

Continue reading “Notes from Wonder09 Breakout Sessions”