Sherwood Park United Church Affirming Celebration Weekend

What a celebration it was Saturday, April 14th & Sunday, April 15th 2018! The sanctuary was a rainbow of colors with a beautiful rainbow banner leading up to the altar. The Fellowship Hall was bedecked in rainbow tissue flowers and the congregation was invited to add rainbow stickers to their name tags. The Affirm United banner stood front and center for all to see.

Saturday night kicked off the celebration with a chili supper followed by a screening of the Camp fYrefly documentary, “Over the Rainbow.” This documentary raises awareness about the complex needs and concerns of LGBTQ youth. The positive impact on the youth who attended Camp fYrefly was dramatically portrayed. Guests Carmen Gerrard, her daughter Marissa, Michael the director and Bryan Mortensen (Institute of MinorityStudies and Services) were available to answer questions afterwards. This event was well attended and capped a yearlong educational journey for the congregation in our Affirming process. Continue reading “Sherwood Park United Church Affirming Celebration Weekend”

Quebec Presbytery LGBTQ training

People often comment to AUSE that they appreciate ideas about how to live out being Affirming. Et voilà: Mount Royal United Church in Québec writes with an update about their Affirming work.

“…thanks to the thoughtful leadership of member Cindy Casey, MRUC put forward a motion to Presbytery (which successfully passed) re: training for ministers in LGBTQ issues similar to training about sexism and racism.”  Have a look at the motion wording, and consider whether this is something to bring forward in your new Region when the time is right.

Mount Royal’s work goes even wider: “We have a committee working very hard to obtain the necessary funding to be able to construct a main-floor, gender neutral, handicap-accessible bathroom facility. We are cautiously optimistic! We also contribute ongoing financial support to Beaconsfield LGBTQ Youth Centre. We are working on making our Affirming status more visible for visitors; our new mission statement is printed on a regular basis in our order of service; the LGTBQ community is quite regularly included in the pastoral prayers.”

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 “Clarity on being Affirming in new Regions”

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 “Affirming ministries-a decade ago”

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 “Volunteer of the Year Award 2017-Gary Simpson”

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

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.)

Continue reading “From Hate to Hope: New prayer, and reflection on intersecting identities”