Update: Since the publication of this blog, Jenn Pepper changed her Instagram account from @jennpepper2.o to @dobetter_theology.
For those seeking to further understand more about the beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture within Young Life regarding sexuality and homosexuality, I recommend reading the posts on the Instagram account jennpepper2.o. Jenn Pepper has 10+ years of experience serving as a volunteer leader and staff member in various roles within Young Life. Her most recent role in Young Life was in Bellevue, Washington.
Through a combination on her public Instagram posts and direct messaging through Instagram, Jenn Pepper has brought increased clarity to many questions about the beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture within Young Life regarding sexuality and homosexuality. Clarity from Young Life and its staff and volunteers regarding these matters is rare, which makes the information Jenn Pepper has provided even more valuable.
First, I will establish Jenn Pepper’s credibility as someone who is thoroughly knowledgable about Young Life’s beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture regarding sexuality and homosexuality.
On August 22, 2020, Jenn Pepper wrote, “I’ve been involved with YL for a decade and it has been formative for me in my growth of Christian theology (because of amazing training classes at the seminary level)…”
A conversation between Jenn Pepper and I on September 17, 2020:
Jenn Pepper: Have you seen other staff and leaders post those policy papers?
Me: And while posting beliefs rather than policies may not be officially prohibited, I would say it is very rare for staff and volunteers to acknowledge them or talk about them honestly. Danielle Eylander has admitted that when kids ask her about the policies she says she doesn’t know.
Jenn Pepper: I would say affirming staff probably do for sure, and it’s a lack of integrity. Orthodox staff probably just Have no idea how to communicate it and know they’ll be labeled homophobic bigots and want to avoid it.
*some* orthodox staff
And some say it plainly and unapologetically. I think your experience was between staff 1 and 2 probably. I was in the #3 category and don’t think we need to be apologetic about it. Articulate and compassionate 110%, but not cowardly. And it doesn’t need to be on the web, that’s silly.
So to answer in a roundabout way your initial question, when I found staff in category 1, they were not interested in what I was interested in. Mixed results in convos with staff in category 2. And area conversations and trainings with staff in category 3.
Me: So you have been asked to lead area conversations and training regarding sexuality and have shared the same information and beliefs you have posted publicly?
Jenn Pepper: A few. I didn’t share about myself much but more broadly on the topic. My personal life I only shared with select few staff that I considered friends. Not because I was told to. I just didn’t want to, and only have now because it felt like it was time to do so.
Me: Who asked you to lead those trainings and how did they know to select you?
Jenn Pepper: People I had had personal conversations with.
In a letter to me on May 12, 2017, Young Life’s Vice President of Communications, Terry Swenson, wrote,” want to be clear that we must ensure that those leading our ministry activities do so in accordance with our beliefs.” This further clarifies that Jenn Pepper’s beliefs regarding sexuality and homosexuality have been proven to be in accordance with those of Young Life.
Conclusion: During her 10+ years as a Young Life staff member and volunteer, Jenn Pepper was recognized by Young Life as someone who was qualified to lead Young Life trainings and conversations regarding sexuality. This make her a credible source for anyone wanting to learn about the beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture regarding sexuality and homosexuality within Young Life.
Jenn Pepper also clarified that she totally agrees that people should follow her profile in order to learn more about Young Life’s beliefs regarding sexuality that are allowed and required among Young Life leaders.
Jenn Pepper has also clarified the connection between her posts and the beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture of Young Life regarding sexuality and homosexuality with the following public comments on the Instagram accounts “younglifeleader” and “younglife”
Jenn Pepper has also posted the following support from Young Life staff and volunteers who both lead in accordance with Young Life’s beliefs and policies regarding sexuality and homosexuality and also express agreement with Jenn Pepper’s posts regarding sexuality and homosexuality:
The purpose of this blog is to clarify that Jenn Pepper has acknowledged that her beliefs regarding sexuality and homosexuality have been determined to be in accordance with those of Young Life. As a person with 10+ years of experience as a Young Life staff and volunteer who was tasked with the responsibility of leading official Young Life trainings regarding sexuality, Jenn Pepper offers a rare and accurate view into the beliefs, attitudes, policies and culture of Young Life regarding sexuality and homosexuality. Anyone interested in these topics should view the content on the Instagram account jennpepper2.o and on Jenn Pepper’s blog.