Islington United’s town hall on being Affirming

Islington United Church in Toronto is in the Affirming process, and will vote April 2018. Here’s a nifty resource: a PDF version of the PowerPoint they used in an open discussion on where their Affirming process is at as they prepare for that vote.

Transparency is key to a good Affirming process, and is crucial throughout. It’s natural that questions and fears may surface during the process. The transparency and clarity shown in this this resource is a great example of one way to ensure that all in the ministry know exactly where the Affirming process is at, and who to contact for conversation and questions. Thanks for sharing this, friends at Islington.

Clarity on being Affirming in new Regions

In late February 2018, an important letter was sent to all Affirming and in-process presbyteries and Conferences, in light of the 2019 amalgamation of these two key

Celebrations of becoming Affirming are always public, and almost always include cake. Agassiz Presbytery, MB, celebrates becoming Affirming, February 2017.

United Church of Canada structures. The letter clarifies the status of Affirming Conferences and presbyteries. Please download the letter here and feel free to share it.

One of the most significant gifts AUSE has experienced over the past decade is the rapidly increasing number of Affirming presbyteries and Conferences. Commitments like these have helped our movement grow beyond congregations, while continuing to honour the vital place of congregations in our movement. Continue reading

New resources to help your work

These resources are designed to help your work, whether you’re considering beginning the Affirming process or have been an Affirming ministry for decades. Check out our infographic, our Becoming Affirming flyer, and our travelling banners. Note that we all Affirming resources are available on our Affirming ministry and our Resources/ handouts pages.  Continue reading

Affirming ministries-a decade ago

Throwback Thursday/ Throwback Anyday: Affirming ministries a decade ago, and a lot of change since.

Huron Shores United Church, Grand Bend ON, at their Affirming celebration in September 2017– one of over 30 new ministries welcomed to the family in 2017.

At times it feels like the church is making slow progress at becoming truly LGBTQ+ welcoming. While AUSE is edging towards 200 Affirming ministries, it’s too easy to look at the United Church’s roughly 3,000 ministries and courts and focus only on how far we have to go. But, look at this Observer story from a decade ago for some context.

Writer Mike Milne noted, “only 31 United Church congregations (as well as three regional ministries, three retreat centres and two colleges) now officially call themselves Affirming. It’s a tiny portion of the United Church’s 3,500 congregations — less than one percent.” Continue reading

Volunteer of the Year Award 2017-Gary Simpson

Every year, AU/SE honours individuals who strengthen and bless our movement in especially significant ways. In 2017, we honour two Albertans: Gary Simpson and Bryon Delarue. Council member Jen Carter-Morgan writes,

“It is a great delight to be able to introduce a wonderful man who is one of the faces of the Edmonton Pride Community – Gary Simpson.

Gary Simpson decked out in his usual Affirming splendour at the Edmonton Pride parade, 2017.

Gary and I first crossed paths at the start up gatherings of a group called Soul Outing, which is a queer worship community in Edmonton that we were both involved in and he still is. He is a dedicated and colourful participant in the Pride Week activities, from walking/riding with the United Church groups to volunteering at the festival afterwards, to staffing an information table. Continue reading

AUSE Volunteer of the Year Award 2016-17- Bryon Delarue

Every year, AU/SE honours individuals who strengthen and bless our movement in especially significant ways. In 2017, we honour two Albertans: Bryon Delarue and Gary Simpson. Gary and Bryon’s work both appears on our website and social media; in 2017 Bryon offered a timeline of all the many and growing Affirming ministries in Alberta, and a reflection on how this was accomplished. Continue reading

From Hate to Hope: New prayer, and reflection on intersecting identities

Over the summer, the White supremacist march and violence in Charlottesville, VA reminded us that our struggles against violent discrimination are inseparable. When people of colour and Indigenous people, of all genders and sexualities, are targeted for who they are, what should the response of an LGBTQQIA+ and Two Spirit movement like ours be? How do we name and face White privilege and racism within our own movement and communities?

A number of communities held anti-racism rallies, and in Edmonton the Hate 2 Hope rally asked AUSE member Gary Simpson to offer a prayer. He has generously shared the prayer with us; download it here and check out our worship section under Resources on our website.

AUSE is a movement that strives to recognize the reality and impact of intersecting identities, and thus works from the belief that the recent gains in LGBTQ+ civil, political, and human rights are not equally true for all sexual and gender-diverse communities. This is why the ongoing and intense debates about the official, uniformed police presence in Pride parades are so important.

(Photo: Rally against white supremacy in Washington DC. By Ted Eytan, licensed under Creative Commons.)

(Photo: Rally against white supremacy in Washington DC. By Ted Eytan, licensed under Creative Commons.)

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Kamloops United: A public, intentional, explicit welcome

pride-march-at-thompson-rivers-university-kamloops-uc-3-copyKamloops 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.”

Remember Orlando: ring your church bell 49 times June 12

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 New-BellOne 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/

Pride prayer and United Church statement on Pride worldwide

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.

Millwoods United Church, Edmonton at Edmonton Pride 2015.

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