Tim Wolfe is the son of Pentecostal fundamentalist pastors who managed to come out of the closet with his faith intact. While he grew up in the church, in a tradition he cherishes even today, his call to ministry didn’t come into focus until he discovered how many other people were struggling to reconcile their faith and their identities—both as LGBTQ people and as compassionate allies. His work in radical inclusion began in earnest with the publication of a blog, “Straight-Friendly,” which quickly evolved into a strong online community of diverse, progressive believers; the blog’s reach was global, with over 500K discreet hits before it’s final post in March of 2013.
Tim Wolfe, Pastor
Tim is ordained in the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an interdenominational collective of congregations under the leadership of Bishop Yvette Flunder in partnership with the United Church of Christ. In addition to planting a new, radically inclusive congregation in Austin-Oak Park, Tim earns his keep as a freelance creative director and lives in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood with his partner of 28 years, Walter Swift, and their two cats, Max and Oscar. He holds an undergrad psychology degree from Northwestern with a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary. If you’ve got a few minutes, pick a topic and ask Tim to tell you a story based on your suggestion. He’s always got one and they’re usually pretty good!
Shea Watts is a worship leader/songwriter/minister with a Pentecostal background. He has led worship in various denominations (Pentecostal, PCUSA, UMC, SBC, AME Zion, and UCC) and is committed to writing songs that are approachable and theologically robust. Beyond the music, Shea is published in the Journal of Hip Hop Studies and the Berkeley Journal of Religion and Theology. Music has been the center of his work and life. Shea is a graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary (MA, Theology), where he is currently entering his fourth year in the PhD program (Theology). His research focuses on the relationship between ritual and embodiment, particularly within Pentecostalism.
Shea and Tim began dreaming of Gather while Shea was in Chicago for his PhD coursework. They would spend hours weekly brainstorming and praying about what it would look and feel like. Knowing the church would need an online presence, they devised a way for Shea to continue his pastoral work at Gather from a distance. As a result, Shea now serves as Gather’s digital pastor, offering support and care through Facebook and behind the scenes. Shea lives in Charlotte, NC with Kathryn, his wonderful wife, and their three cats: Sophie, Curly, and Rosalyn. He’s always down for a good brew—coffee or beer—and a chat, whether about theology, music, or sports.
You can contact Tim and/or Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org.