Elena Joy Thurston is an inspirational speaker and founder of the PRIDE and Joy Foundation. She grew up in a turbulent home, joined a conservative church as a teenager, put herself through college, married, birthed 4 beautiful children, and then....
Life 2.0 brought a divorce, leaving/getting kicked out of her church, a beautiful love story and a successful new career! Her viral TEDx talk has pave3d the way for speaking engagements around the country. Audiences have included ABC, CBS, and FOX news stations, the First Event in Boston, the Seacoast Wellness Series in New Hampshire, the THRIVE conference in Utah, as well as multiple print and online media stories and podcasts.
Bob Verstege was born in Indonesia in 1956 with Dutch and Indonesian ancestry. He grew up in Southern California, attended UCLA, then had a long and successful career in corporate marketing and communications.
At age 14, Bob converted to and was baptized a member of the Church, even though he knew he was gay. After serving a mission in Chicago, he left the Church at age 22 and lived life as an openly gay man. At age 30, Bob met his future partner and husband, Dr. Walter Jay Eldredge, who had also been a faithful member of the Church and returned missionary. They enjoyed a life-long committed relationship until Jay’s passing in 2013 due to complications from early onset Alzheimer’s. During that time, Bob retired at age 50 to become Jay’s full-time caregiver for seven years.
After Jay’s passing, Bob received many spiritual promptings in which he felt Heavenly Father calling him back. Bob returned to Church and was soon put to work serving in the Elders Quorum presidency, then as ward clerk. He was recently called as his ward’s Elders Quorum President and as a senior missionary in the Mesa Temple administration office. Bob shared his personal story as a gay Church member in Richard Ostler’s podcast in 2019. In that same year, the Church asked him to write an article for the Ensign about his life experience, which came out in the July 2020 issue.
Nathan Kitchen is serving his fourth year as the elected president of Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends. Affirmation is a forty-five-year-old organization that creates worldwide communities of safety, love, and hope—supporting LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families as they define their individual spirituality and intersection with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a full-time mission for the Church in Alabama, graduated with a B.S. in Zoology from BYU Provo, earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Southern Illinois University, and completed a general practice residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is currently in private practice in Mesa, Arizona. He is the proud father of five children and three grandchildren and lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his husband Matthew Rivera.
Clare Dalton (she/her) is an Arizona girl through and through. She was born in Mesa and grew up in Tucson. She graduated summa cum laude from The University of Arizona in Linguistics with a minor in Spanish. She then put that minor to use as a missionary in the Spain Barcelona mission from August 2011-February 2013.
After jobs in coaching, door-to-door sales, bilingual drivers ed and substitute teaching, she decided to put her high tolerance for teenagers to good use as a seminary teacher in religious education and currently teaches at Highland high school in Gilbert, AZ.
After coming out as gay in 2021, she is trying to navigate her faith, her orientation and her career more openly so that her students--past, present and future--and their families can see that Christ really did say, “Come, follow me” to everyone, and He actually meant it.
When she’s not the only girl on the basketball court “with the guys,” Clare enjoys being Auntie Clare to her 14 niblings, entering new worlds through reading, understanding the real world through podcasts, and disregarding public health notices of skin cancer by getting frequently sunburned while laying by her pool.
Voices of ALL
OPENING SESSION (10:00 AM - 11:00 AM)
Opening Remarks: Rachel Moulton
Speaker: Elena Thurston - "Fulfilling the Measure of My Creation"
Speaker: Bob Verstege - I Will Go Before You and Level Exalted Places" - Isaiah 45:2 (ESV)
20 MINUTE BREAK
CLOSING SESSION (11:20 AM - 1:00 PM)
Voices of ALL Panel Discussion
Speaker: Nathan Kitchen - "Fear Not, I Am With Thee; Oh Be Not Dismayed!"
Speaker: Clare Dalton - "You Can Trust Yourself AND Christ"
Closing Remarks: Bryce Cook