Why Pride? McKillop United Church, Lethbridge AB (video)

Are Pride parades needed anymore? And do churches need to be present? McKillop United Church in Lethbridge AB found an answer when they participated in the parade, camera in hand, and asked community members what they thought. Have a look at the results. (The answer to both questions? YES.)

Members of Lethbridge Pride thank McKillop for its years of support (2014).

Members of Lethbridge Pride thank McKillop for its years of support (2014).

First-St Andrew’s United, London: Blessing scarves for HIV/AIDS survivors

(Another story in our series featuring the life-giving work of Affirming ministries.) For the past four years, First-St. Andrew’s United Church in London, Ontario has been in partnership with the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) for some of their outreach projects. One of these projects has involved our Knit Wit group knitting red scarves for RHAC’s public awareness program.

Red scarves knitted at First-St Andrew's  ready for blessing in the sanctuary.

Red scarves knitted at First-St Andrew’s ready for blessing in the sanctuary.

 

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Why would a small rural congregation bother with becoming Affirming?

Many people assume urban churches are more likely to become Affirming. But in recent years, at least half of the ministries joining the Affirming process are in small towns. And their presence in both their communities and the Affirming process has a strong impact; they’re breaking stereotypes, and changing our Affirming process for the better.

Here Rev. David Lander describes Castleton-Grafton pastoral charge’s journey, outlining motivation, process, congregational culture, theology, and overcoming fears. Read on to be inspired.

Motivation

Over the last number of years, many United Church congregations have toyed with the idea of becoming Affirming. Most congregations want to give the message that they are inclusive and welcoming. Most congregations think they are already welcoming.

Edible rainbow at Grafton United Church's Affirming celebration.

Edible rainbow at Grafton United Church’s Affirming celebration.

 

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United Church Moderator visit with Asian LGBTQI partners, Indonesia

In November, Moderator Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell and Rev. Michael Blair, Execumoderator-in-ause-tee-at-jakarta-theo-seminary-trans-conference-2-nov-2016tive Minister for the Church in Mission unit, visited Jakarta, Indonesia at the invitation of its theological seminary. Jakarta Theological Seminary has committed itself to a yearly focus on LGBTQI inclusion, despite the challenge this creates in their context. This year’s conference also included the annual gathering of Asian Affirming and open churches. In this spirit, we include this post as part of our Affirming Ministries in Action series. (And draw attention to the t-shirt she’s wearing.) Continue reading

From hurt to welcome: an interview with Rev. Bora Lim, South Korea

Karina Schumacher‎, a German advocate from the Ecumenical Mission Service, interviews Rev. LIM Bora, pastor of Hyanglin Seomdol congregation in Seoul, South Korea. Hyanglin Seomdol means “stepping stone”. Since 2007, Rev. Lim and the congregation have been campaigning for the rights of sexual minorities.  Earlier in 2016 we featured the congregation and their witness at Seoul Pride. Continue reading

How to celebrate your Affirmaversary: St Albert United, AB

In October 2016 St. Albert United Church in Saint Albert, Alberta decided to celebrate the anniversary of becoming Affirming by welcoming the whole community—and supporting a new generation of LGBTQ and Two-Spirit leadership.

Camp fYrefly YEG with the University of Alberta, ISMSS and Calgary Sexual Health Centre will screen their documentary film “Over The Rainbow”; it premiered at the Calgary Fairy Tales Film Festival last May, as well as The Banff Centre for the Performing arts. It’s also available for screening by other Affirming ministries. Have a look at the trailer: https://vimeo.com/185158953 Continue reading

Kamloops United Church: Twenty years of being out and public

Kamloops United in Kamloops, BC has been an Affirming ministry for twenty years. They became Affirming long before equal marriage was obtained, and long before trans* activists and allies brought us much closer to full recognition of trans* human rights. They write,

pride-march-at-thompson-rivers-university-kamloops-uc-reduced-size“We are feeling excited and optimistic about the renewed energy at Kamloops United Church to live more fully into our obligations and privilege of being an Affirming congregation, and of being a member of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble.

Since celebrating the 20th anniversary of becoming a member of Affirm United on May 12, Kamloops United Church, Centre for Community and Spiritual Discovery, has hosted the multi-faith community vigil for Orlando in June, and we have been offering regular meeting space for the board of Kamloops Pride. Just recently, we hung a beautiful new AUSE logo banner on the brick cornerpiece on the exterior of our building.

On Wednesday September 28, for the second year, we participated in the 5th annual Thompson Rivers University Student Union Pride Parade. A baker’s dozen of KUC folk carried our banner and signs, and participated in the tabling afterwards. Among our handouts at TRU were invitations to a pride-march-at-thompson-rivers-university-kamloops-uc-3-copyspecial Affirming and Welcoming Sunday on October 16.

We. Are. An. Affirming. Church.”

Positive space and GSAs= a much deserved youth award

(Note: Port Nelson United is currently renewing its Affirming process, and sent us this great example of the kind of public witness offered by ministries in the process. Your Affirming process can be a public witness too!)

Port Nelson youth award recipientsWhen the adjudication committee at Port Nelson United Church in Burlington, Ontario met last May to consider applications for the annual Youth Award, they knew the job would be challenging. Young people in their final year of high school from every segment of Halton Region had applied for the $1000 scholarship. The award honours leadership in promoting inclusion, with a special emphasis on the needs and concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer individuals. (Right: Award recipients Colleen and Tyler.)

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Highlights from Affirming ministries, 2015-2016

Every year, Affirming ministries are asked to give a short annual report. Jordan Sullivan, Ministry Partnership Animator, and LGBTQ+ Justice at the General Council office, takes on the enormous task of compiling highlights. Many thanks to Jordan and to all the ministries who reported for sharing your stories and inspiring us. Please take a moment to look at these hope-filled stories, and feel free to share them in other publications. 
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