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 One 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/
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.
Testimony for Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble, by Anne Squire
On May 27, 2017, Emmanuel United Church in Ottawa became Affirming. At that celebration, the physical presence of a congregation member central to the Affirming process was missing. Here is that story, and words from that member. Anne Squire, presente. With us in Spirit.
Anne Squire’s rainbow cape draped over her wheelchair; Emmanuel United Church’s Affirming celebration, 27 May 2017. Anne had died on April 24.
Margaret Armstrong writes, “Anne Squire was at the founding of Affirm. At the Morden, MB General Council amid the clash of argument that led to the United Church agreeing to ordain gay ministers, a group of gay people and supporters met in a little room to found a group of people to affirm the place of gays within the United Church. Anne was there.
Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble is pleased to announce that it has hired Aaron Miechkota as the new coordinator for *IRIDESCE: The Living Apology Project*. AUSE thanks the United Church for its funding of this position and looks forward to collaborating on this important work towards a Living Apology to gender- and sexually-diverse communities.
Living Apology coordinator Aaron Miechkota.
Aaron is currently studying toward ordained ministry and brings a background in creative communications to her role. Aaron is interested in the theology of friendship with people and the Earth.
*IRIDESCE: The Living Apology Project* seeks to inspire and reconcile people of diverse sexual, romantic and gender expressions and identities within the United Church of Canada. Continue reading
Trans* people are ministers and leaders in the United Church, across the country, and around the world. They are members of our families, our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, and neighbours, and they deserve to have their identities protected by the law.
Bill C-16 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. It will also amend the Canadian Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as a recognized group when offences are motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.
Bill C-16 passed its third reading in the House of Commons in November 2016, and is now (still) in its second reading in the Senate. Some groups are actively campaigning the Senate to block this bill. Please take action by contacting your senator as soon as possible, and urge the Senate to make Bill C-16 law.
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.
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.
The Affirming Ministry Award recognizes outstanding examples of ministries who inspire and lead our movement with the creativity and energy of their ministry to diverse communities and the church.
Thank you for your help in naming and honouring those who inspire us.
By Bryon Delarue
It was Sunday April 15, 2007 that Deer Park United Church in Calgary celebrated becoming an Affirming Ministry within the United Church of Canada. And it was also my birthday. On Sunday April 23, 2017 Deer Park celebrated 10 years of being an Affirming Ministry.
The Unitarian Church of Calgary lent us their rainbow banner as a backdrop for our celebration. The 500 foot banner was created as a project of a group of youth from the Unitarian Church of Calgary. In June 2005 Parliament Hill was awash in the colours of all 500 foot of the banner as it was paraded during rallies supporting legalization and to inspire a positive vote for same-sex marriage which became a federal law on July 20, 2005. What we displayed in the Sanctuary was 125 feet of the original banner. Continue reading
Camp Kidston in Nova Scotia voted last year to begin the Affirming process, the better to offer a public and intentional welcome to children and youth, and to the young and older adults who staff the camp. This is an exciting first that sparked new work for AU/SE.
A task group shared between Affirm United and the United Church’s General Council has begun meeting. It’s sharing stories about vision, policies, and practices, and looking at how best to adapt the Affirming process for the unique needs of outdoor ministries/camps.
Morning games at Cave Springs United Church camp, ON- one of the outdoor ministries involved in the Affirming task group.
The group includes conversations with Ontario’s Rainbow Camp and the University of British Columbia’s CampOUT. Like Camp Tapawingo’s Camp Caterpillar, they are hosted by United Church facilities, but the programs themselves are not United Church, and are created and run by outside groups. One of the task group’s questions, then: what would it take to have explicitly LGBTQQIA-welcoming United Church programs in our own outdoor ministries?
Have a look at CampOUT’s summer 2015 video of its program Camp Fircom for a vision of what could be. And see this excellent reflection from Rachel Hearn on Rainbow Camp on why these spaces make such a difference.
If you know of a United Church outdoor ministry that is interested in offering a welcome to LGBTQQIA campers, please get in touch with one of our excellent volunteer Affirming ministry coordinators.
Mill Woods United Church in Edmonton, showing off its Affirming welcome.
Many thanks to Bryon Delarue for bringing together this excellent overview of some of the 24-plus Affirming ministries in Alberta. Exactly ten years ago, there were three Affirming ministries in Alberta. Now there are twenty- four, with many more to come. Many of the more recent ones are in small towns. It is also home to the first assisted living facility in the country to become Affirming. This did not happen by accident or alone. Have a look at the details of this story- and be inspired to work on a similar commitment in your own context.
In the fall of 2003 Deer Park Council held two congregational gatherings with the purpose of listening to a collective voice on the core identity and passions of the congregation. An outcome was to live our mission for the next three years by focussing on youth; men; community with each other; people of other faiths; people in need and people of gay or lesbian orientation. Continue reading
Friends, please help Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble and St Andrew‘s-Wesley United Church promote our July 28-30 shared conference in Vancouver! Below are a poster and business cards we ask you to share and print; feel free to save the JPG of the poster and use it widely on social media and in your newsletters.
Join the Facebook event and check out the full program and accommodation info at http://spiritpride.org/
2017 Spirit Pride and AUSE annual conference poster (PDF)
2017 Spirit Pride business card (PDF)
Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at Spirit Pride 2017!