Listen, Learn & Love Hosted by Richard Ostler
Summary: My name is Richard Ostler (twitter: @papaostler) and am a native of Salt Lake City. I have degrees from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University (business). I married by best friend and eternal companion Sheila Juergens of Houston, Texas in 1990 and we are the parents of six great children and two grandchildren and live near Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. I believe deeply in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and want it to work for a wider group. The name ‘Papa Ostler’ resulting from being introduced to Twitter by my High School age son Matt in 2010. I wanted the high school age kids to know I wasn’t their age as I interacted with them … hence the name Papa Ostler. I served as a YSA Bishop in the West Valley City/Magna area of Salt Lake (released in 2016) and met some of the finest people I will ever know. In addition to meeting with wonderful active members of my Ward, I reached out and connected via social media (mostly via the private messaging features of FB and Twitter) with many of our inactive members and their non-member friends. Over time, many felt comfortable meeting with me and sharing their stories. Through hundreds of interviews and ‘listening to understand’, I was able to ‘see’ the church from the eyes of those outside of active Latter-day Saints. Many feel the church is their ‘spiritual home’ but feel uncomfortable attending for a variety of reasons such as work-in-progress testimonies, concerns about church history, feeling unworthy because of past or current sin, don't fit the cultural mold, role of women, are LGBTQ and/or feel God's LGBTQ childen should be more welcomed in our congregations, etc. This podcast, from a deeply believing/committed Latter-day Saint, is designed to 'Have a Conversation' about some of the more complicated issues in our church to help all of us 'listen, learn and love' so we can minister in a more effective way to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Some podcasts will me 'going solo' and other podcasts will be guests helping us to better understand God's LGBTQ children as taught by President M. Russell Ballard 'Mormon leaders, along with the rank and file, need to listen to and understand what LGBT members are feeling and experiencing (Nov 2017 BYU Devotional).' With love, Richard 'Papa' Ostler ❤
My friend Roxanne Kennedy bravely shares her story of a 20 year marriage to a pornography addict (the marriage ended about 4 years ago). It’s a deeply touching story of how she turned to Heavenly Father for guidance and the atonement of Jesus Christ to heal and give hope. Showing great courage, vulnerability and acting on Heavenly Father’s impressions, she wrote a book called “Cutting Ties. Healing from Betrayal Trauma as the Spouse of an Addict.” See her web site to order the book and more info: http://cuttingties.com/ As a former single ward Bishop who conducted 100s of interviews about porn, I wish I had heard from Roxanne before I was called to have better principals, spiritual insights and role of experts to help my ward members. I encourage parents of children, local leaders, spouses and people working to solve porn to listen to this podcast and read her book. I promise it will increase your insights and give you better tools to help people in this space. Thank you Roxanne for your courage to share your journey and insights. You are one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met. You voice is helping so many.
My dear friends Ken, Sue and Hank Hansen share their family story. Ken and Sue (a convert) have served the Church their whole lives outside of Utah (Illinois, Connecticut and New York). They talk about making their Wards loving and inclusive. Ken and Sue talk about the pain of the November 2015 Policy Statements and how that almost broke their testimonies but how they remain committed members. Ken and Sue now live in Utah and share the differences in Ward culture. Ken, Sue and Hank share the story of Hank coming out as gay at age 16 (a student at the University of Utah) and how they are navigating that road with Hank stepping away from active church attendance. They share principals to keep the family circle together even with different feelings about our Restored Church. Instead of ignoring these complex topics, there is open communication and discussion helping to create real connection and deeply family ties. There are no ‘elephants in the room’ at the Hansen home. Thanks to all three of you for being on the podcast. This podcast will be particularly helpful for active LDS parents who have adult children who have stepped away. Each of you are remarkable, thoughtful and deeply spiritual. Honored to have you on the podcast!
My friends Willy and Kristy Donahoo, who don’t have any immediate LGBTQ family members, share their story of becoming LGBTQ allies. It started with Willy’s talk in Church (Sept 2015) about owning the ‘visitors welcome’ message at our buildings when he mentioned the need to welcome our gay friends. Willy and Kristy then connected with Encircle (they serve on their advisory board). They talk about the need to proactively ‘act’ to be accepting versus a passive statement of acceptance. In April 2019 Willy and Kristy, wanting to act, purchased 60 pride flags for their neighborhood in Sandy, Utah. They share the remarkable story of encouraging their neighbors (thru social media, letter writing and door-to-door visits) to consider displaying a flag until all 60 flags were claimed and displayed starting on May 27th. Click here for a copy of their letter: https://www.dropbox.com/s/030qh99n2js98sr/Pride%202019%20Neighborhood%20Flag%20Letter%20FINAL_Redacted.pdf?dl=0 and the Mr. Rogers quote: https://www.dropbox.com/s/68tw2n80o077t2d/Mr.%20Rodgers%20Unique.pdf?dl=0 It’s a really cool story. This resulted in Mama Dragons, a group of mothers of LGBTQ children, posting a picture and story on Facebook about the flags https://www.facebook.com/mamadragons/posts/2265960243502364 that went viral including KSL running a story https://www.ksl.com/article/46565141/each-person-is-accepted-unconditionally-sandy-neighborhood-lines-streets-with-rainbow-flags-for-pride-week .But what happened once the flags were up in their neighborhood is the real story. Willy and Kristy share some of these deeply touching and healing stories that occurred as these much needed conversations finally happened. Several of these brought tears to my eyes and hearts were healed and authentic connections made. Willy and Kristy invite you to consider doing this in your neighborhood next year. Thanks Willy and Kristy for being on the podcast and your discipleship. You two are awesome.
My good friend Amelia Hepworth (age 22 and in a serious relationship with her friend Greg) calls in from Kansas City, Kansas to bravely share some of her story. Amelia has bravely dealt with and mostly solved her eating disorder (anorexia) including a deeply spiritual experience at the Kansas City Temple giving her the courage to seek treatment. Amelia talks about how her eating disorder is not a sign of weakness or spiritual deficit, but a mental illness that needs clinically trained people to help solve. Amelia also talks about being a bi-sexual Latter-day Saint and opening up to Greg before they even started dating. She talks about her close relationship with Greg and their hopes for the future. You are a wonderful and courageous woman, Amelia. I was so touched by your courage, strength and faith. Thanks for being on the podcast!
My friends Ian and Gareth Calk (brothers) share the journey as Latter-day Saints navigating their faith. Ian has gone through a faith crisis and is currently active LDS. Gareth has stepped away. While neither brother is inviting others to follow their path, I believe it is helpful to hear their story so we can better understand why some of our members step away giving us better insights to minister to them. I believe the Good Shepherd knows His sheep well enough to know why one left and where to find them. Yes, I think this increases the chances someone will return if the person ministering to them understand the full story behind their journey. Ian explains what a faith crisis is like in this article: https://iancalk.blogspot.com/2019/06/understanding-crisis-of-faith-for-those.html Ian co-founded (with his friends Jenn Mack and Andrew Sturgess) RISE, an LDS LGBTQ support group in Atlanta. https://www.facebook.com/Rise-Atlanta-LGBT-Mormons-and-Allies-162728337716159/ Ian has spent countless hours getting to know our LGBTQ friends through private interviews which has been transforming to him. RISE meets every other month in a different LDS member home in the Atlanta area usually hearing from one of our LDS LGBTQ members. Thank you Ian and Gareth for sharing your journey. Honored to have you on the podcast. You two are great friends.
My friend Kurt Francom, married father of 2, former Bishop and Stake Presidency member, joins me to share insights into effective local leadership. In 2010 Kurt founded Leading Saints (https://leadingsaints.org/) a non-profit to provide additional tools for local leaders including podcasts and virtual summits. This list of guests is impressive (Anthony Sweet, Tom Christofferson, Patrick Mason, Bruce and Marie Hafen and my brother Dave Ostler). The tag line of Leading Saints is ‘Be a Leader, Not a Calling’. Kurt has great insights into ministering to those who have a more difficult road to stay active Latter-day Saints. I learned so much from Kurt’s insights. Thank you Kurt for your wonderful ministry to help people come unto Christ through our Restored Church
Our family friend Matt Easton shares his journey as a gay Latter-day Saint. Matt came out as gay during his BYU Valedictorian Speech at BYU for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. Since that speech on April 29th, Matt has been features in thousands of stories and done hundreds of interviews including appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show on May 6th. We are honored to call Matt a close family friend particularly our daughter Emily who is a fellow BYU Student. Glad to have you on the podcast Matt to share a longer version of your story. You give hope to so many. You are a great man, friend, and have a wonderful future!
My friends Dallon Smith and Taylor Winget share their journey serving missions (Chile and Argentina, respectively), coming out as gay, graduating from college (Utah State and BYU respectively), starting to date, now getting married (Aug 2019) and continuing to attend church as best they can. They were featured by ABC4 last April https://www.abc4.com/…/same-sex-couple-choosing-…/1903886065. Dallon and Taylor share how their active and wonderful LDS families are supporting them in their upcoming marriage to keep the family circle together in love, support and understanding. In sharing their story, I am not inviting anyone to follow a path outside the doctrine of our church. I invite everyone to stay. However, I feel it is important to humanize stories of those who choose to different road so we can keep the family circle together and show support as each LGBTQ person decides their best path as they move forward. This podcast may also be helpful for LDS parents who have a child going into a same-sex marriage and how to navigate this road. Thanks for being on the podcast Dallon and Taylor! You two are great and I look forward to your future and the wonderful contributions you two will make in society. Richard 'Papa' Ostler ❤ listenlearnandlove.org papaostler.com
My friend Kate Toronto joins us to talk about stepping into the space of active LDS and understanding/supporting our LGBTQ friends when she felt impressed to do her thesis on this subject as part of earning a Master’s Degree in Psychology in Education from Columbia University in New York. As part of her thesis, she conducted research with 450 LGBTQ Latter-day Saints (mix of active/not active). She shares her findings, conclusions and pastoral implications for our LDS LGBTQ members. Kate successfully defended her dissertation and graduates in late May 2019. Kate has unique and fresh insights into the difficult road our LGBTQ friends walk and things we can do to minister to them and lighted their road. I was deeply moved by Kate’s insights and her good heart and have more hope that we are moving in the right direction to both lift the burdens of our LGBTQ members and embrace their contributions to help us become the Body of Christ.
My friend Clare Marshall calls in from Warrington, England (one of my mission areas) to share her journey as an active Latter-day Saint and supporter of our LGBTQ+ friends. Clare, a life-long member in her 20’s, talks about a transgender ward member and her friendship with a transgender man during her youth, her mission in Frankfurt Germany, returning from her mission to study a masters in MSc Art Psychotherapy and final completing her dissertation and training year at a LGBT Health Centre before taking on a full time role at LGBT Foundation located in Manchester, England. Clare helps us understand how following the Gospel of Jesus Christ encourages us to reach out to those who have a more difficult road in mortality like our LGBTQ+ friends and how we can help lift their burdens. Clare shares helpful insights to our transgender and non-binary friends. Thank you Clare for being on the podcast. You are awesome and doing a great work!
My friend Brett Hales shares his life story of growing in Magna, serving a mission in Alaska, marrying Cindy Ulrich (37 years ago), raising 5 kids (all married with 7 grandchildren), serving as a Bishop (sharing very tender stories involving priesthood blessings), being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and serving on the Murray City Council. Brett also shares his thoughts about our LGBTQ friends and people of other faiths and seeing the goodness in everyone.
My friend David Daniels bravely shares his journey as a gay Latter-day Saint knowing he was gay in his teens, telling no one, serving a successful mission in Puerto Rico, marrying a woman which ended in divorce after 5 years, leaving the church for about 13 years and then returning in 2013 where he is an active member in good standing. It’s a brave and courageous story with a very supportive family. Thank you David for sharing your story. You are a great man with a wonderful life ahead of you!
My friend Tember Harward shares his story growing up in California in a part member family but not going to church, becoming aware of his orientation in High School and then several years with same-sex partners and not connected to any religion. Tember that shares the journey home. Deeply spiritual experiences leading to his baptism into the Church (by his father), serving a mission, becoming a Temple worker, believing he would be alone, but then falling in love with his wife Tefany and the joy of being a father. Thank you Tember for sharing your story. You are a great man with a wonderful future.
My friend Nathan Winters, a committed Latter-day Saint, shares the difficult road of being an early release missionary. Nathan has been brutally stretched with things outside of his control and has turned to his Heavenly Father and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s a remarkable story of courage, faith and navigating complicated territory. Nathan has a very supportive family and wonderful Mission President. I believe the unique lessons that Nathan is learning will help him become the man, future husband and father, and disciple of Christ that God needs him to become. He will have a unique ability to reach and help others. Nathan shares great insights on how to minister to our early release missionaries on the podcast and here: https://medium.com/@najwinters/what-early-returned-missionaries-want-you-to-know-b9ef9ef80e83 and his homecoming talk here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ixq132vfscemh9/Nathan%27s%20Homecoming%20Talk.pdf?dl=0 Thanks for sharing some of your journey, Nathan. You are a great man with a wonderful future.
Episode 126: Kyle Manwaring, Gay Latter-day Saint, Recent BYU Graduation, RM by Richard Ostler