Free livestreaming for the Disruptive Faith Conference, July 26-28!

For the first time ever, parts of the Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble annual conference will be livestreamed, free of charge. Please join us for thought provoking theology, advocacy, spirituality, and worship!

All videos will be available live here:  

https://www.hillhurstunited.com/live-video

Bios for some of our amazing presenters are here.

Many thanks to Hillhurst United Church for sharing their technology and their commitment to inclusive public communication with the national Affirming movement. Any donation in support of this virtual national space and the vital voices in it is welcome: https://www.hillhurstunited.com/give

(All times Calgary/ Mountain)

Friday, July 26, 7:30PM-9:00PM: Rev. Emmy Kegler: Keep Sweeping

Saturday July 27, 9:00AM-9:45AM, opening worship

10:00AM-11:00AM, Rev. Emmy Kegler: Loving the Bible?

11:15AM-12:30PM, Mike Morrison: Love Out Loud

1:30-3:30PM, Harlan Pruden: Two Spirit Reconciliation

8:30-9:30PM, Gay Straight Alliances panel: Lived Experiences (The theatrical reading of Care Takers which precedes the panel cannot be streamed because of copyright.)

Sunday, July 28, 10:00AM-11:00AM-ish: Morning worship with the Hillhurst United Church community.

 

2018 annual report available now!

Are you a super-supporter of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble? A keener? A generous donor? An avid reader of reports about truly amazing cross-Canada work? Then this soon-to-be bestseller is for you!
Our annual report, covering highlights and accountability reports for 2018 and the first half of 2019, is available now, right here. Enjoy stories and photos that show not only the range of work we’re about- but show you how important your support is. Thank you for all the love-affirming ministry you’ve offered our movement through your gifts of time, skill, experience, and financial support. Onward to the rest of 2019!

Is an Affirming journey even needed? Four voices

From a thread on the United Church of Canada Facebook group, spring 2019. The post related to the United Methodist Church’s March 2019 decision to renew its ban on LGBTQIA+ clergy and equal marriage.

Part of the conversation turned to the Affirming process in the United Church: whether it should be a priority since the perception is that the whole church is “already welcoming”; whether it was accessible to congregations who struggle with a lack of volunteers; or whether it’s needed at all. Different opinions about how welcoming our United Church ministries really are were expressed, and debate offered up. Here are some stories from responders in that conversation, used with permission. Please note that they are speaking from their personal experiences, and not speaking on behalf of the ministries they serve.

Leigh Sinclair (Minister, Robertson-Wesley United Church, Edmonton AB): I have been in affirming congregations and welcoming congregations. There is a difference. How often do we preach love from the pulpit, how much do we discuss each marriage request and most importantly are we telling the community we live in what we believe on the outside of our building or in the safety of our hearts? The harm done by the Christian faith towards the LGTBQ communities can only be atoned for when love is shared as publically as it once proclaimed hate. Continue reading

Gower Street United Church: the island of Newfoundland’s first Affirming ministry

By Larry Kelly (See also “Uplifted as Equal”: Larry’s reflection offered at Gower Street before their Affirming vote.) Photos by Martina Bennett, with thanks.

It’s official! Gower Street United Church is an Affirming Community of Faith in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. On June 5, 2019 the congregation hosted a public celebration to recognize its Affirming status. It seemed fitting that Gower, the oldest United Church congregation in the province, dating back more than 200 years, was publicly affirming its commitment to inclusivity, equity and justice for all God’s children, including those of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The air seemed electrified with the beautiful sounds of What the World Needs Now is Love, played by the Gower Community Band while approximately 300 jubilant congregants and special guests filed past two progress pride flags at the main entrance and into the sanctuary, but not before stopping to pet St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and chat with their owners. Sunday school children offered pride colored crosses that they made and painted during the previous week.

Special guest choirs, The Stella Burry Inclusion Choir and Spectrum Queer Choir, as well as the Gower Youth Choir and the Gower Senior Choir, settled into place as the official celebration began with the playing of the Royal Salute to welcome their Honours, The Honourable Judy May Foote, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Mr. Howard Foote.

A procession of youth and parents followed carrying pride flags while the congregation sang Let us Build a House. The pride candle was lit for the first time by a young girl, Naomi Addison, with the support of her family.

The Lieutenant Governor. (Photo: Martina Bennett)

The order of celebration included thought-provoking and encouraging words of inclusion from Her Honour, carefully selected musical pieces, an inspirational address by guest speaker, Mr. Remzi Cej, a man of Muslim faith, Kosovar refugee, Rhodes Scholar, LGBTQ activist, and human rights award winner. Rev. Pamela Jones- Fitzgerald’s welcome and inclusive words were, as usual, a moment of pride for the congregation. An uplifting message from the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, The Right Reverend Dr. Richard Bott was read by the 37th Moderator of The United Church of Canada, The Very Rev. Dr. Marion Pardy.

The celebration continued with a reception, cutting of the Affirm cake and continued fellowship with old and new friends over tea and sweets.

Our Affirming journey has begun, and while we aren’t sure where it will lead us, we are confident that we are on the right path: God’s path to living out our mission of full inclusion, justice, and equity for all.

Spruce Grove Gay Straight Alliance on the difference a church made

Affirming Connections in Calgary writes, “We want to cheer on that St. Andrew’s United Spruce Grove celebrated becoming an Affirming Ministry on Sunday, April 28!

We received a letter from Spruce Grove GSA Society about their affirming experience with St. Andrews, and it’s amazing – we wanted to share it with you.”

Additional context: St Andrew’s Affirming celebration took place days after Alberta decided on a new provincial government. Alberta’s United Conservative Party won the election, and it had campaigned in part on removing privacy protections that allowed schools to not inform parents when a student joined a GSA.

From Spruce Grove GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Society:
“In January 2018 the Spruce Grove GSA had its very first meeting. Unfortunately for our next meeting, in February, we suddenly found ourselves homeless. I had approximately three weeks to find somewhere to host our youth! I was heartbroken, devastated and crushed. What would I tell our kids, the parents, what would I tell Spruce Grove… our community GSA has suddenly come to a crushing halt.

A friend referred me to Connie Archer from St. Andrew’s United Church. I called her up and she agreed to meet with me at the church the next day.

Continue reading

National ecumenical consultation of affirming ministries, April 2019

Jordan Sullivan, is the Ministry Partnership Animator for the United Church of Canada, and a bridge builder between Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble and the wider United Church. He and AUSE co-chair Michiko Bown-Kai were involved with a recent ecumenical national consultation of Christian denominations about their work towards being truly LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit-welcoming.

He writes, “I am so very grateful for the courageous, faithful, and committed people involved in LGBTQIA2S+ Justice work among their respective faith communities across Canada.

Continue reading

PIE video- more about the hosts and ministries!

People have been asking about the hosts of our new video, who take us through what PIE means, and spend a lot of time eating pie. And our new 15 minute free video on a Public, Intentional, and Explicit welcome for LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people also features five Affirming ministries from BC, Alberta, Ontario, and PEI. Learn more about them all here! (What’s “Affirming”? Learn more here.)

Running time: 15 minutes. Download or stream and enjoy: https://vimeo.com/320966739

Thank you to Gifts with Vision and all who support Affirming Connections and Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble with your time, love, and resources. Read on to get to know our storytellers, and please share the video widely.


Continue reading

Why P.I.E? at Kamloops United Church

A talk offered by Christine Dolson March 17 for Affirming PIE Day 2019 (drawing the circle wide on or after Pi Day and exploring Public, Intentional, and Explicit celebration/ welcome of LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people.)

Good morning!

As you can see we have a bit of a pastry situation going on.

I want to talk to you about pie, all kinds of pie and about some of our pie practices around here.

Affirm United is the national organization that works for the full inclusion of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations in the United Church, and in wider society. They help ministries to become truly welcoming safer sacred spaces. In 2019, to have a little fun and build awareness, they declared that March 14 would be National Affirming Pie Day. Today, belatedly, KUC is celebrating PIE day.

Why PIE ? Well… Public; Intentional; Explicit is the standard for an affirming welcome of LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit people. Two-spirit is a uniquely Indigenous identity.

Why Pi?    Love is a circle. It’s irrational, inclusive and infinite. So why not add that affirming twist to International Pi Day celebrations on March 14?

Why pie? …Why not?  Pie makes everything better!

So let’s slice up some PIE. Continue reading

Affirming PIE video ready for free download!

The Affirming PIE video is now ready for free download! Join our pie-loving hosts Stéphane and Pam as they introduce us to PIE, and five Affirming ministries tell their stories about their Public, Intentional, and Explicit work and welcome for the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

Running time: 15 minutes. Download or stream and enjoy: https://vimeo.com/320966739

Thank you to Gifts with Vision and all who support Affirming Connections and Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble with your time, love, and resources.

Remember: Affirming PIE Day is 14 March 2019! Sign up or learn more at www.pieday.ca!