AUSE annual conference 2018 reflections

By Julie McGonegal. Check our Facebook album for some photos!

A big maple tree hung with rainbow ribbons and a quilt, with people sitting under it talking.

The Rainbow Tree: a lovely old maple, made into a rainbow space by Susie Henderson as the heat inside the church grew more intense.

Many Voices–One Song. That was the theme of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble’s Annual Meeting and National Conference. It encapsulated the vibrant diversity of the

over 85 participants who gathered together from July 13–15, united by a Spirit-led call to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the church and wider society.

We may be in different places on the Affirming journey and we each arrived at the meeting, held at Royal York Road United Church in Toronto, from different locations; participants hailed from all corners of the country and represented a colourful rainbow of experiences and identities. Yet we came together to sing a heart song that heals, uplifts, and supports all gender and sexual identities in our church.  As always, people of all identities were welcome to join our weekend-long community.

The diversity of our perspectives, and the common cause that unites our vision for the future, was evident during the business portion of the meeting. Often the mandated annual general meeting is a minor part of the weekend. However, this year our usual sharing of Affirming stories from across the church was preceded by intense discussion about the changes currently facing the United Church, and how these changes affect the Affirming movement. Continue reading

Deep gratitude for annual conference 2018 hosts and planners

The planning team and hosts!

Enormous gratitude to the beautiful planning team and hosts of our just-finished annual conference at Royal York Road United Church in Toronto. Your welcome was warm, your creativity so cool, and your commitment to loving and Spirt-ed community so clear.

May the Spirit bless you as you’ve blessed our gathered Affirming community this past weekend, friends.

And may you have a long nap in a cool space very soon.

Look for a report some time in August. Have a look at our photo album in progress for photos and a taste of what 100 of us shared in: worship, workshops, speakers, and public pop up event at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.

 

2018 conference registration deadline June 30

Friends, we close registration for our 2018 annual conference on June 30!

Join us July 13-15 at our lovely host, Royal York Road United Church in Toronto, on Dish with One Spoon Treaty territory. Register here.

The planning committee has been labouring over a hot workshop list, confirming amazing speakers, and planning a public worship at Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. From stained glass creations to allyship with LGBTQIA youth, from supporting LGBTQIA asylum seekers to becoming Affirming in your context, we’ll have it all.

Subsidies and billets available. Allies and all identities welcome and needed. Bring your good energy, ideas, and spirit to our growing nationwide movement. Be inspired, and help Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble continue to grow and transform.

Annual Conference and AGM 2018 Online Registration Form

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.

We have closed registration for Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble’s 2018 AGM and conference, Many Voices- One Song. Thank you to our 80 plus registrants.

We emphasize that all people of all identities are welcome at this gathering; we ask that you bring a respectful spirit and open mind, and that all participants come with the belief that sexual and gender diversity is part of God’s beloved creation. Our movement believes that being gender and/ or sexually diverse is a gift, not a sin. We look forward to seeing you July 13-15 at Royal York Road United in Toronto!

All of the information you include in this form will be treated as confidential, and shared only as needed with the planning committee and AUSE’s communications coordinator.

Please click here for full workshop information, as you are invited to give your workshop preferences in this registration form. Click here for a draft conference agenda Continue reading

AUSE Conference 2018 July 13-15, Toronto

We’re delighted to announce that Royal York Road United Church will host the 2018 Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble annual conference July 13-15 in Toronto.  We’ll gather on Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, and Anishinabek Territories; we look forward to creating a safer space and a deeply inclusive welcome for all.

AUSE also thanks Toronto Conference of the United Church for its generous contribution to staff support for this gathering. We’re deeply grateful to Affirming ministries like Royal York Road and Toronto Conference, and we hope our time together will be a chance for all to experience and learn from Affirming ministries across the land. As always, people of all identities are welcome, and we’re in an accessible space with public transit at the door.

Please watch this site, www.ause.ca for registration and details. Our annual conference: includes community, worship, learning, discussing, eating, and probably films and dancing too! All identities welcome. We’ll post registration and agenda links here when they’re ready. For now, please hold the date! And please share the invitation widely, as a PDF for printing, or as a JPG for social media and your newsletters (right click on the image above).

This weekend falls before the United Church’s national triennial meeting, General Council, and its public Festival of Faith in Oshawa, about an hour east.  If you’re travelling to General Council, come early and join us. Or, stay on after for the Skylight Festival July 27-29 at Five Oaks near Paris ON.

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

Annual conference/ SpiritPride 2017 report

“…God is queer. Jesus is queer. The Gospel is queer…. May we step proudly into our place at the table of God and claim that space, saying boldly and proudly, “we shall not be moved”. -Brandan Robertson.

The Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble network is a far-flung family, extending coast to coast to coast, and including kin and allies in many countries. Every year we have a chance to gather face to face, and in 2017 we were hosted by St Andrew’s Wesley United in Vancouver as part of their annual SpiritPride event. Many thanks to the congregation and the planning team for their warm hospitality and months of hard work. Gregg Taylor and Chris Mann, thank you for your bridge-building between AUSE and St Andrew’s Wesley, and for bringing our two movements together!

Check out our Facebook photo album (you don’t need to be on Facebook to view it).

Colourful LGBTQIA+ flags draped over a stone balcony at St Andrew's Wesley UC, Vancouver.

A wonderful array of our movement’s flag in the sanctuary at St Andrew’s Wesley.

Continue reading

SpiritPride 2017- program updates

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.

spirit-pride-logo-2017v2

Continue reading

AUSE welcomes Colombian partner to 2017 annual conference

SpiritPride and Affirm United /S’affirmer Ensemble will welcome Colombian global partner Paola Márquez to their gathering July 28-30 in Vancouver. Partnerships with global LGBTQ+ communities and allies is a crucial part of our journey towards dignity, equity, and rights. Paola

Paola is coordinator of volunteers for the Colombian Methodist Church in Medellín, Colombia. This work has given her opportunities to work with organized groups of visitors from North America who assist in projects in Colombia. She is also a law student at the Atlantic University in Barranquilla on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Her mother, who she also works alongside, is a Methodist pastor in the same city. Paola has worked since she was 14, and since the age of 17, has been her family’s main income-earner. In the local church, she has begun a small ministry for LGBTQ people.

Affirming Awards 2017: your nominations needed!

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.

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. Continue reading