Farewell and gratitude to Affirming Conferences and Presbyteries

There was a time when being an Affirming ministry meant being a congregation—and local churches are still very much our backbone. But in 2008, the Conference of Manitoba and NorthWestern Ontario took a new step: it became Affirming. It began working with the presbyteries in its borders, and as of 2017, all of these presbyteries were Affirming. Bay of Quinte Conference in Ontario set itself some similar goals, as well as setting up a team to support more Affirming congregations and presbyteries.

Together, and with many others, they helped open up space for eight Conferences and seventeen presbyteries to become Affirming, as of November 2018.

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Gladwin Heights United Church Celebrates!

On October 28, 2018, while rain poured outside, the inside of the sanctuary was full Sanctuary with a wooden cross on the wall, a rainbow cloth on the communion table, a stool, and a pulpit with the United Church crest on it. of energy, love, and light, as Gladwin Heights United Church was declared an Affirming Ministry. “The Little Church That Cares” was host to over 80 supporters of the inclusivity of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Members of the Gladwin Heights congregation were joined by ministers and members from local churches, as well as representatives from BC Conference, family and friends.

Rev David Cathcart, AUSE Council member, presenting the Affirming certificate.

Reverend David Cathcart brought greetings from Affirm United and presented Gladwin Heights with a certificate to declare its fulfillment of the requirements to become an Affirming Ministry within The United Church of Canada. Gladwin is the 20th Affirming Ministry in BC.

Gayle LaPointe read several congratulatory letters, including a letter written by The Right Reverend Dr. Richard Bott, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, who brought the spirit of his warmth and encouragement to the Celebration. Thanks were given to Liz Carter-Morgan and Linda Hutchinson, the western and eastern Coordinators for Affirm United who guided Gladwin Heights on its journey. Appreciation was also extended to St. Andrew’s United Church, our sister congregation, as it prepares to host its Affirming Celebration in 2019. Acknowledgement was given to Trinity United Church as it begins its affirming journey.

White male minister offers blessing in front of cross, with arms outstretched.

Rev. Tim Bowman offers the blessing.

Several tears were wiped away as we formed a circle around the sanctuary and sang“Draw the Circle Wide”. Reverend Tim Bowman sent us with a Blessing: Know this: you are loved. Wherever you come from, whatever you look like, whoever you love, you are loved. And the people responded: Whatever the time, wherever the place, we go forth in love.

 

 

Following a fabulous time of fellowship, and enjoyment of specially baked goodies, everyone left the hall with the unexpected and glorious greeting of a beautiful rainbow outside.

 

 

AUSE signs on to Caribbean decriminalization call

Colonial laws throughout the world have done great harm to LGBTQIA+ people. AUSE was honoured to respond to an invitation to add its name to an open letter calling on Caribbean leaders to repeal these British Empire-era laws in their nations.

Read the full article, letter, and signatories here, and see the text below. Consider ordering a copy of Intimate Conviction, a book examining so-called sodomy laws across the Commonwealth. The article contains ordering information.

The letter:

“Religious leaders call on governments across the Caribbean to repeal anti-LGBT laws

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Laws that criminalize consensual same-sex intimacy exist in a majority of Commonwealth countries, an unwelcome holdover from colonization — despite the fact that such laws have been long since repealed in the United Kingdom. But repealing these laws has proven difficult in some countries as they continue to be falsely “justified” by religious arguments put forward by conservative faith leaders and churches, which in turn fuels an unfortunate hate that is distinctly un-Christian. But the tide is now turning.

One year ago, over sixty faith leaders from many different denominations came together in Kingston, Jamaica, for the first ever “Intimate Conviction” conference. Today, an edited volume of some of their compelling presentations, “Intimate Conviction: Examining the Church and Anti-Sodomy Laws Across the Caribbean,” is launching and will now serve as an important tool to make the case for the repeal of anti-LGBT laws in the Caribbean and indeed across the Commonwealth.

We are proud to support today’s historic release and stand firm in our conviction that love is love, and that God’s unconditional and all-inclusive love extends to everyone. We must always strive to demonstrate that same unconditional love and respect for all members of our human family.

Today’s launch of the Intimate Conviction volume demonstrates broad, cross-denominational support from churches for the much needed repeal of anti-LGBT laws. We urge governments across the Caribbean to repeal anti-LGBT laws in their jurisdiction and to support the human rights and health of their LGBT populations.”

Call for Health Canada ban on conversion therapy

CBC notes that “An online petition that will be presented in the House of Commons,signed by more than 2,500 people so far, urges the Liberals to outlaw the act of coercing or counselling minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to prohibit taking minors outside the country for that purpose.

‘Conversion therapy’ is the widely-discredited practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counselling, behaviour modification or medication, based on the premise that being gay or trans is abnormal and can be ‘cured’.”

\While many provincial health agencies refuse to recognize this “therapy”, the practice is not actually outlawed in most provinces or territories, and Health Canada itself hasn’t addressed it. AUSE is against this deeply harmful, transphobic and homophobic practice, and supports efforts to ask the United Church of Canada to adopt a national policy against it.

Please have a look at the petition, and share it as you feel able.  

BC churches take action in support of SOGI 123 resources

Oak Bay United Church in Victoria, an Affirming ministry, writes: “Christian leaders have written a letter to express our support for the SOGI 123 educational resources (sexual orientation, gender identity) created for use in BC public schools.

You may have seen that a group of pastors put out a statement to say that SOGI does not align with Christian beliefs and values. We are here to provide a different Christian perspective.”

The letter has been sent to Honorable Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. Read and sign the letter here. BC ministries have told AUSE they welcome signatures from out of province.

Twenty seven new Affirming ministries in 2018

Avondale United Church, Stratford ON at their Affirming celebration in June 2018. Photo: The Herald-Beacon. Permission sought.

In 2018, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble welcomed twenty-seven new members to the family. Behind each of these names is a community of faith that moved through an Affirming process, changing and learning as it went. Behind each of these names are dozens or hundreds of people of all ages and stages. And behind each is a commitment to a radical welcome in Jesus’ name. Celebrate this with us!

 

April 15, Sherwood Park United Church, Edmonton AB

May 25, Hamilton Conference, ON

May 27, London Conference, ON

June 2, Cariboo Presbytery, BC Conference

June 3, Lakeview United Church, Calgary

June 3, Islington United Church, Toronto

June 3, Avondale United Church, Stratford ON

June 10, Calvary United Church, Prince Albert SK

June 10, Trinity United Church, Gravenhurst ON

June 10, Faith United Church, Courtice ON

June 10, Bradford United Church, Bradford ON

June 17,  Bracebridge United Church, Bracebridge ON

September 8 and 9, Grace United Church, Lloydminster AB

September 16, Central United Church, Brandon MB

September 16, Dunsford United Church, Dunsford ON

Sept 16, Canadian Memorial United Church, Vancouver BC

September 19, Kawartha Highlands Presbytery, Bay of Quinte Conference, ON

September 23, Wesley United Church, Regina SK

September 30, Sackville United Church, NB

October 21, Cummer Avenue United Church, Toronto ON

October 28, Gladwin Heights United Church, Abbotsford BC

October 28, St Paul’s United Church, Orillia

October 28, Atherley United Church, ON

November 4, Greenwood United Church, Baddeck NS

November 13, Inverness-Guysborough Presbytery, NS

November 25, Trinity- St Andrew’s United, Renfrew ON

December 2, Carleton Memorial United Church, Ottawa ON

Affirming PIE Day- hold March 14, 2019!

Do you like PIE? Hold the date: March 14, 2019

Public. Intentional. Explicit. Those are the standards we hold ourselves and our welcome to when we become Affirming or affirming.

On International Pi Day 2019 (3.14- get it?)  we invite you to serve up some pie and PIE in your ministry and community.

Get together and:

Show AUSE’s new video-to-be featuring your stories about being PIE. 

Tell your own PIE stories: examples of your LGBTQ+ welcome that are and have been public, intentional, and explicit. Host a community open mic/ coffeehouse for all stories. Eat lots of delish church pie (and everything else you consider delicious). Together, spend, say, a half hour talking about how LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit rights and dignity could be advanced in your context and community.

Come up with some bite sized ideas and note them down for ongoing action.  Fundraise/ awareness raise for your local Pride and LGBTQ groups. Put the proceeds wherever you want. Put in a good word for Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble and Calgary’s awesome Affirming Connections, our partner.

Whatever you do: don’t give up PIE for Lent, hold the date, and watch www.ause.ca for more information and materials.  Contact the communications coordinator at communications@ause.ca with your ideas, questions, and recipes.

Affirming ministry celebration for Trinity-St Andrew’s UC, Nov 25 2018

A celebration to be declared an Affirming Ministry will be held for Trinity-St Andrew’s United Church on Sunday, 2018 at 10:00 AM. All welcome!
Location
:
Trinity- St Andrew’s United
291 Plaunt Street South, Renfrew, Ontario K7V 1N2
www.tsarenfrew.ca

Media coverage of the celebration, too!

Please send a note of congratulations to Trinity-St Andrew’s United Church through this contact form:

 

Reflection- Kamloops United Church, Orange Shirt Day 2018

Reflection: Kamloops United Church, Orange Shirt Day 2018, by Christine Dolson. She explains, “Our Affirming Sunday coincided with Orange Shirt Day. Reconciliation and being Affirming arise from the same Source.

The artists and the Affirming chair. (Left to right) Barb Hollingshead, Heather Mewhort, Christine Dolson, Marie Allen (project’s leader), and Marcia Skaarup.

It is colourful here today isn’t it? Orange shirts, and rainbows. So many colours, so

many symbols. Colours and symbols have power. Colours and symbols can make us feel something. Colours and symbols serve to celebrate and to remind us about things that are important.

Today we are celebrating and remembering.

Today we celebrate a special remembrance that over 22 years ago, this community of faith, Kamloops United Church, committed to being an Affirming congregation, and officially became a member of the national organization, Affirm United.

We are also a community of faith committed to Reconciliation. Today, September 30, is Orange Shirt Day, as part of the ‘Every Child Matters’ campaign. Continue reading

Intersectional conversations-racism and a kairos moment at General Council

Intersectional conversations: racism and a kairos moment at General Council

(An article from our September 2018 newsletter.) A kairos moment is a door from ordinary, linear, chronos time to sacred and transformative time. Such a moment took place in the closing hours of the 43rd General Council of the United Church of Canada, when the Moderator invited people of colour and Indigenous people to come to the mics and tell their stories as racialized people in the United Church of Canada.

The LGBTQIA+ community in Canada is no more free of White privilege and racism than the rest of the church or the rest of the country is. The sacred place where our diverse genders and sexualities meet diverse racial identities is one we must seek as an Affirming movement. Often it’s a painful place, as well as a growing place, as we saw a couple of years when queer and trans members of Black Lives Matter stopped the Toronto Pride parade in order to have their perspectives and experiences heard.

You are invited to take the time to watch and absorb these two hours of sacred storytelling. Your reflections on what this moment might teach the Affirming movement are most welcome. You can use our contact forms, or our Facebook group to share your thoughts.