PROVO, Utah — The 2016 international conference of Affirmation, a support group for LGBTQ Mormons, kicks off Thursday night with a potluck, then continues with three days of sessions Friday through Sunday at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo.

Thomas McConkie, who left the LDS Church at age 13 but returned 20 years later and is the author of "Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis," will headline the conference's Sunday devotional. The Unity Gospel Choir (formerly the Genesis Choir) will perform.

Founded in 1977, Affirmation supports a broad range of people in the LGBTQ/same-gender attraction community. Tracks at the conference are available for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer and for their parents, family, friends and leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A track for youth is also available.

"We need a space of non-judgment, empathy and support," said John Gustav-Wrathall, Affirmation's president, "and that’s what this conference is designed to create."

Consequently, some of the workshops discuss finding space for LGBTQ and same-sex attracted people within LDS wards and stakes. But other sessions are designed to support those who have left the LDS Church. A full program is available at affirmation.org.

Registration is $69 for the full weekend, $30 for Saturday only and $20 each for Friday or Sunday only.

The Thursday night potluck dinner begins at 6:30 and runs until 9:30 at Lions Park, 950 W. 1280 North, in Provo.

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