Free livestreaming for the Disruptive Faith Conference, July 26-28!

For the first time ever, parts of the Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble annual conference will be livestreamed, free of charge. Please join us for thought provoking theology, advocacy, spirituality, and worship!

All videos will be available live here:  

https://www.hillhurstunited.com/live-video

Bios for some of our amazing presenters are here.

Many thanks to Hillhurst United Church for sharing their technology and their commitment to inclusive public communication with the national Affirming movement. Any donation in support of this virtual national space and the vital voices in it is welcome: https://www.hillhurstunited.com/give

(All times Calgary/ Mountain)

Friday, July 26, 7:30PM-9:00PM: Rev. Emmy Kegler: Keep Sweeping

Saturday July 27, 9:00AM-9:45AM, opening worship

10:00AM-11:00AM, Rev. Emmy Kegler: Loving the Bible?

11:15AM-12:30PM, Mike Morrison: Love Out Loud

1:30-3:30PM, Harlan Pruden: Two Spirit Reconciliation

8:30-9:30PM, Gay Straight Alliances panel: Lived Experiences (The theatrical reading of Care Takers which precedes the panel cannot be streamed because of copyright.)

Sunday, July 28, 10:00AM-11:00AM-ish: Morning worship with the Hillhurst United Church community.

 

2018 annual report available now!

Are you a super-supporter of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble? A keener? A generous donor? An avid reader of reports about truly amazing cross-Canada work? Then this soon-to-be bestseller is for you!
Our annual report, covering highlights and accountability reports for 2018 and the first half of 2019, is available now, right here. Enjoy stories and photos that show not only the range of work we’re about- but show you how important your support is. Thank you for all the love-affirming ministry you’ve offered our movement through your gifts of time, skill, experience, and financial support. Onward to the rest of 2019!

Is an Affirming journey even needed? Four voices

From a thread on the United Church of Canada Facebook group, spring 2019. The post related to the United Methodist Church’s March 2019 decision to renew its ban on LGBTQIA+ clergy and equal marriage.

Part of the conversation turned to the Affirming process in the United Church: whether it should be a priority since the perception is that the whole church is “already welcoming”; whether it was accessible to congregations who struggle with a lack of volunteers; or whether it’s needed at all. Different opinions about how welcoming our United Church ministries really are were expressed, and debate offered up. Here are some stories from responders in that conversation, used with permission. Please note that they are speaking from their personal experiences, and not speaking on behalf of the ministries they serve.

Leigh Sinclair (Minister, Robertson-Wesley United Church, Edmonton AB): I have been in affirming congregations and welcoming congregations. There is a difference. How often do we preach love from the pulpit, how much do we discuss each marriage request and most importantly are we telling the community we live in what we believe on the outside of our building or in the safety of our hearts? The harm done by the Christian faith towards the LGTBQ communities can only be atoned for when love is shared as publically as it once proclaimed hate. Continue reading

Annual conference 2019- theme, promo, registration and other details!

Annual conference 2019, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble:
DISRUPTIVE FAITH: Forging Brave & Inclusive Communities in Divided Times
July 26 at 4:00PM, all day and evening Saturday July 27, to Sunday 28 after lunch, at Hillhurst United Church, Calgary

Online registration is now closed, but you can register in person at any time at Hillhurst United Church.

Here’s the draft schedule (PDF) and bios for some of our awesome resource people!
Read on for registration, theme, costs, accommodation info, children’s programming, and more. Look for updates right here May through July, and see our Facebook event here.Can you help us promote this gathering? All images, posters, text and PowerPoint slides are available right here– share away!Together we will engage in conversation, workshops, worship, enriching dialogues, theatrical performances, food, and more! Children’s programming is available!If you are looking for new ways to engage and expand your faith and social justice work, this conference is for you! All faiths and identities, backgrounds and abilities are welcome! Share with your friends and colleagues! Continue reading

Affirming celebration for Cambridge Street United Church, Lindsay ON, 14 July 2019

A celebration to be declared an Affirming Ministry for Cambridge Street United Church, Lindsay ON, will be held on Sunday July 14, 2019 at 10:30AM at:
Cambridge Street United Church,
61 Cambridge Street North
Lindsay, ON  K9V 4C9
Phone:  705-324-3547
www.theunitedchurch.com

All welcome! Please send a note of congratulations to Cambridge Street United Church through this private form:

 

Gower Street United Church: the island of Newfoundland’s first Affirming ministry

By Larry Kelly (See also “Uplifted as Equal”: Larry’s reflection offered at Gower Street before their Affirming vote.) Photos by Martina Bennett, with thanks.

It’s official! Gower Street United Church is an Affirming Community of Faith in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. On June 5, 2019 the congregation hosted a public celebration to recognize its Affirming status. It seemed fitting that Gower, the oldest United Church congregation in the province, dating back more than 200 years, was publicly affirming its commitment to inclusivity, equity and justice for all God’s children, including those of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The air seemed electrified with the beautiful sounds of What the World Needs Now is Love, played by the Gower Community Band while approximately 300 jubilant congregants and special guests filed past two progress pride flags at the main entrance and into the sanctuary, but not before stopping to pet St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and chat with their owners. Sunday school children offered pride colored crosses that they made and painted during the previous week.

Special guest choirs, The Stella Burry Inclusion Choir and Spectrum Queer Choir, as well as the Gower Youth Choir and the Gower Senior Choir, settled into place as the official celebration began with the playing of the Royal Salute to welcome their Honours, The Honourable Judy May Foote, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Mr. Howard Foote.

A procession of youth and parents followed carrying pride flags while the congregation sang Let us Build a House. The pride candle was lit for the first time by a young girl, Naomi Addison, with the support of her family.

The Lieutenant Governor. (Photo: Martina Bennett)

The order of celebration included thought-provoking and encouraging words of inclusion from Her Honour, carefully selected musical pieces, an inspirational address by guest speaker, Mr. Remzi Cej, a man of Muslim faith, Kosovar refugee, Rhodes Scholar, LGBTQ activist, and human rights award winner. Rev. Pamela Jones- Fitzgerald’s welcome and inclusive words were, as usual, a moment of pride for the congregation. An uplifting message from the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, The Right Reverend Dr. Richard Bott was read by the 37th Moderator of The United Church of Canada, The Very Rev. Dr. Marion Pardy.

The celebration continued with a reception, cutting of the Affirm cake and continued fellowship with old and new friends over tea and sweets.

Our Affirming journey has begun, and while we aren’t sure where it will lead us, we are confident that we are on the right path: God’s path to living out our mission of full inclusion, justice, and equity for all.

Affirming celebration for Trinity UC, Cannington ON, 23 June 2019

A celebration to be declared an Affirming Ministry will be held for Trinity United Church, Cannington ON, on Sunday June 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM at: Trinity United Church, 50 Laidlaw Street North,
Cannington, ON  L0E 1E0
Phone:  705-432-2721
www.trinitycannington.ca

All welcome! Please send a note of congratulations to Trinity United Church through this private form:

Affirming celebration for Golden Ears United Church BC, 23 June 2019

A celebration to be declared an Affirming Ministry will be held for Golden Ears United Church on Sunday June 23, 2019 at 3:00 PM at:

Golden Ears United Church,
22165 Dewdney Trunk Road
Maple Ridge  BC  V2X 3H7
Phone:  604-463-9611
www.goldenearsunited.ca

All welcome!
Please send a note of congratulations to Golden Ears United Church through this private form:

Accommodation options, AUSE 2019 conference

Accommodation for Disruptive Faith, 2019 Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble Conference at Hillhurst United Church in Calgary includes billets, hotels, and a 15% off deal at the Residence Centre at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, a 20 minute walk from the church.

Billets: In your registration, you can indicate whether you need a billet. Calgary’s Affirming Connections network will do their best to find billets.

Hillhurst United Church is situated near many AirBnB’s in the Kensington Sunnyside area, and 1 train stop from downtown hotel accommodations.

The Residence & Conference Centre at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology: Hillhurst has negotiated a 15% discount on rooms here. Use this link: https://app.thebookingbutton.com/properties/rccalgarydirect

At the top right of the page, enter the promotions code 217Affirm 
Please book by July 24!

Rooms include:
• Complimentary Parking
• Complimentary Breakfast
• Complimentary Wi-Fi
• Linens & Towels Provided
• Bathroom Amenities
• Yoga Room
• Exercise Rooms
• Conference & Meeting Space Rentals Available

 

 

AUSE Council member Rev Cindy Bourgeois receives award, 8 May 2019

On May 8 2019, AUSE Council member Rev Cindy Bourgeois received the Craig Chaplin Memorial Award from United Theological College (Montreal). Congratulations, Cindy! We celebrate with you and celebrate the many gifts  you bring to our shared movement. Here’s the citation, offered by Alyson Huntly, a longtime leader in our Affirming movement. 

“Craig Chaplin created this award to recognize the ministry, gifts, and witness of those who are openly LGBTQ2, “To honour those whose life’s work has been distinguished by embodiment of such central gospel values as courage and integrity, life affirming faith, and unswerving commitment to justice and solidarity with those who are marginalized. “

I met Cindy Bourgeois in 2009, during her internship at First United Church, Ottawa. Members of the congregation remember Cindy well, recalling how open-hearted and generous Cindy was as she patiently helped the congregation stretch its understanding of trans women:

  • Her humour and persistence
    Her deep spirituality
  • Her dynamic preaching
  • Her special gift for ministering to those who felt marginalized
  • Her connection to children and youth; her connection to seniors
  • And most of all, how privileged people felt to know her!

Continue reading