Our big event, SpiritPride 2017 and the Affirm United Annual Conference, is just 3 weeks away, July 28 – 30, 2017! We’ll gather in Vancouver on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples including the Musqueam, the Squamish, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nations, as part of Pride Vancouver’s celebrations.
Some of you have already registered and we are looking forward to seeing you there! AUSE especially encourages Affirming ministries and those in the process to come and share your experiences, questions, and hopes.
For those still considering attending, here’s latest news about the event; we remind you that there’s a week left to register online at the early bird rate at www.spiritpride.org (last minute registrations will be accepted, as well as at the door). On the SpiritPride website there’s also a contact for billets, should accommodation be a barrier for you or your family or friends.
Read on for exciting program updates! Note that AUSE’s annual meeting will be held Friday afternoon– a break from our usual timing.
Kamloops United Church in BC has been an Affirming ministry for decades. Lately they’ve put energy into creatively renewing that commitment, in part by focusing on how to be out, proud, and present in the wider community. Have a look at their invitation to the congregation to be present at Kamloops Pride 2017.
As Affirming committee member Christine Dolson reminds the congregation, “Most congregations do their best to be welcoming, but being affirming goes deeper and is public, intentional, and explicit, in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Being affirming is about radical hospitality, about making sure that everyone finds this to be a safe place to be who they are, and to be fully included in all aspects of the life of the church, and the broader society. In particular, Affirming Ministries like Kamloops United Church work for the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the United Church of Canada and in society.”
The AUSE Council invites all churches to ring their bells 49 times (or use another form of good noise) at noon Florida time on Monday June 12. The Florida-based One Orlando Alliance writes, “We are asking churches around the world to toll their bells 49 times June 12, 2017 at noon to commemorate the 49 innocent victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting. For the loved ones of those taken and as a united community at large, we ask you to join the 49 bells movement of love.
For more information and to sign up, visit https://oneorlandoalliance.org/49-bells/
The United Church offers us both a prayer for Pride and a reflection on Pride Month that moves Pride from the local to the global: “During the month of June, thousands of people in Canada will be participating in Pride activities celebrating the lives and freedom of LGBTQ+ people. That won’t be happening in Chechnya, or in Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and many other countries…
Millwoods United Church, Edmonton at Edmonton Pride 2015.
Testimony for Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble, by Anne Squire
On May 27, 2017, Emmanuel United Church in Ottawa became Affirming. At that celebration, the physical presence of a congregation member central to the Affirming process was missing. Here is that story, and words from that member. Anne Squire, presente. With us in Spirit.
Anne Squire’s rainbow cape draped over her wheelchair; Emmanuel United Church’s Affirming celebration, 27 May 2017. Anne had died on April 24.
Margaret Armstrong writes, “Anne Squire was at the founding of Affirm. At the Morden, MB General Council amid the clash of argument that led to the United Church agreeing to ordain gay ministers, a group of gay people and supporters met in a little room to found a group of people to affirm the place of gays within the United Church. Anne was there.
Every year, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble invites your nominations for outstanding individuals and Affirming ministries whose work and witness have inspired our movement. Awards are presented at our annual conference, which will be held July 28-30 2017 in Vancouver. The deadline for nominations is June 10 2017. The decision will be made by a committee of the Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble national Council.
Altar banner, George St United, Peterborough ON.
Please use the form below to nominate people, or contact the co-chairs if you wish to send a nomination by mail. The form allows you to attach Word and PDF documents as well as photos. Links to relevant videos should be included in the form text or the Word document.
The Person of the Year Award honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the work of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble by their volunteer commitment in any part of the movement; and/ or by furthering the welcome and inclusion of LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people in the United Church of Canada, faith communities, and Canada as a whole.
The Affirming Ministry Award recognizes outstanding examples of ministries who inspire and lead our movement with the creativity and energy of their ministry to diverse communities and the church.
Thank you for your help in naming and honouring those who inspire us.
By Bryon Delarue
It was Sunday April 15, 2007 that Deer Park United Church in Calgary celebrated becoming an Affirming Ministry within the United Church of Canada. And it was also my birthday. On Sunday April 23, 2017 Deer Park celebrated 10 years of being an Affirming Ministry.
The Unitarian Church of Calgary lent us their rainbow banner as a backdrop for our celebration. The 500 foot banner was created as a project of a group of youth from the Unitarian Church of Calgary. In June 2005 Parliament Hill was awash in the colours of all 500 foot of the banner as it was paraded during rallies supporting legalization and to inspire a positive vote for same-sex marriage which became a federal law on July 20, 2005. What we displayed in the Sanctuary was 125 feet of the original banner. Continue reading
Mill Woods United Church in Edmonton, showing off its Affirming welcome.
Many thanks to Bryon Delarue for bringing together this excellent overview of some of the 24-plus Affirming ministries in Alberta. Exactly ten years ago, there were three Affirming ministries in Alberta. Now there are twenty- four, with many more to come. Many of the more recent ones are in small towns. It is also home to the first assisted living facility in the country to become Affirming. This did not happen by accident or alone. Have a look at the details of this story- and be inspired to work on a similar commitment in your own context.
In the fall of 2003 Deer Park Council held two congregational gatherings with the purpose of listening to a collective voice on the core identity and passions of the congregation. An outcome was to live our mission for the next three years by focussing on youth; men; community with each other; people of other faiths; people in need and people of gay or lesbian orientation. Continue reading
In May 2014 our minister, Rev. Cari Copeman-Haynes received a phone call from a couple asking if our congregation performed same-sex marriages. When she responded that we did, she was asked, “How would we know that? We didn’t see anything on your website.”
The thing to know about our congregation, Crossroads United Church, is that we thought of ourselves as already open and welcoming. We had the history to prove it, didn’t we? And so it was that the question from the caller, “How would we know?” became key for us. Continue reading
From Vancouver Island, an excellent new video on being Affirming:
Brechin United Church’s Rev. Sally Bullas writes, “I wanted to share the recent video produced by Shaw TV Nanaimo profiling Brechin’s “Reaching Out” group and the “ROAR” refugee sponsorship group that formed from “Reaching Out”. We are very proud of these initiatives that formed a result of our becoming an Affirming Ministry.”
Please share and use this excellent four-minute video, which draws on community stories to show the importance of becoming Affirming. It also tells the story of the congregation’s decision to sponsor LGBTQ refugees. Consider such sponsorship yourself; have a look at our overview.