Six Affirming celebrations on April 28, 2019!

When you have a good problem: so many Affirming celebrations on one day that posting them all under “News” will fill up most of your news feed.

Please have a look at our upcoming celebrations page, and take a minute there to send a short note of thanks and congratulations to the six ministries officially joining the family on April 28 2019:

St Andrew’s United Church, Spruce Grove, AB

Knox United Church, Russell MB

Silverton United Church,  Silverton MB (This is Russell-Silverton pastoral charge- both points are becoming Affirming and they’re having a celebratory turkey supper April 28 that you know is worth driving across the West for.)

Queen St United Church, Lindsay ON

Riverside United Church, Ottawa

Trinity United Church, Smiths Falls

THANK YOU to all of these ministries for their commitment to safer sacred spaces that celebrate gender and sexual diversity!

 

Uplifted as equal- becoming Affirming at Gower St United Church, NL

Note from Affirm United: On January 27 2019, Gower Street United Church in St. John’s NL voted to become Affirming. They will become the first Affirming ministry on the island, joining Labrador City on the mainland in Labrador. And great will be the rejoicing! Many thanks to Larry Kelly for his permission to share his words. 

Reflection by Larry Kelly – January 13, 2019, Gower St United Church in St. John’s NL

Good Morning! Last Sunday Lorne spoke about the differences between welcoming and affirming congregations. This morning’s affirm message speaks to why affirming congregations may be more important now than ever. Continue reading

Members and donors: our ministry would be impossible without you

If you are able to contribute money as well as time and talent, know that your donations and memberships make up the vast majority of AUSE’s budget. THANK YOU for your generosity and your deep commitment to safer sacred spaces. Have a look at our 2018 year in review for more details about the year behind us.

We have around 150 ministries in the (free) Affirming process, and our budget helps us accompany them. This figure has almost doubled over the past five years: thank you for helping us keep pace.

Your donations enable our volunteer Council to gather, and for our network to come together once a year. Thanks to you, we can keep that annual gathering affordable and offer full subsidies. Thanks to you, we can gather a task group on outdoor ministries (camps) in the Affirming process. We can hold meetings to explore new avenues for the Affirming process.

Gathering and communion at Dundas Square, Toronto, as part of the 2018 annual conference.

Your memberships also keep us strong. Often this work is isolating, and it’s always geographically stretched. When Affirming or ally ministries, and individuals and households, take out memberships, you help us create stronger relationships. And when we get a rare chance to meet and worship together in person, the conversation never ceases- as our 2018 conference in Toronto showed.

This Advent, AUSE thanks you for the ways you have contributed hope, joy, peace, and love to our movement. We look forward to that continued relationship in 2019. Join us or donate anytime!

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.

Continue reading

Affirming celebration for Riverbend UC, Edmonton, 3 March 2019

A celebration to be declared an Affirming Ministry will be held at Riverbend United Church on Sunday March 3, 2018 at 10:30 AM at:

14907 45 Avenue NW
Edmonton AB, T6H 5K8
Phone:  780-430-7275
www.riverbendunited.org

All welcome!

Please send a note of congratulations to Riverbend United Church through this form:

 

Affirming celebration-Burton Ave UC, Barrie ON 27 Jan 2019

A group of people of all ages gathered outside in front of a sign saying "Camp Simpresca".

Burton Avenue United Church gathering at a local United Church camp.

Burton Avenue United Church in Barrie, ON will celebrate their declaration of becoming an Affirming Ministry on Sunday January 27th at 10:00 AM at:

37 Burton Avenue,
Barrie  ON   L4N 2R3
Phone:  705-726-0401
www.burtonavenueunited.com

All welcome!
Please send a note of congratulations to Burton Avenue United Church by filling out this contact form:

 

2018 in review: what your support has accomplished

We’ve had a very rich and busy year. You, our diverse members and supporters, in Affirming ministries and beyond, made it possible.

Twenty-seven new Affirming ministries. Twenty-seven creative, Spirit-led celebrations.

A record-breaking number of ministries in the Affirming process.

An edition of Mandate, the United Church’s justice magazine, dedicated to LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit justice.

A rich national gathering in July warmly hosted by Royal York Road United Church in Toronto (read about it here); generous support for a part time staff person from Toronto Conference, and a wonderful planning team, speakers, and workshop leaders. The conversation in hallways and under the trees and at meals never stopped.

Support for Iridesce:  the Living Apology project as it criss-crossed Canada, gathering stories that are hopeful, profound, and too often sad.  They show us the work that remains to us- and how we might approach it.

Wonderful turnouts at the workshops offered by both AUSE and Iridesce at the Festival of Faith, prior to General Council.

The launch of the Iridesce play at General Council- your stories, on the stage and live streamed.

Dozens and dozens of local Affirming events: workshops, speakers, film screenings, drag shows, vigils for Trans Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day, physical presence to block a (so-called Christian) hate group active at Prides in southern Ontario, presence at dozens of Pride festivals small and large, through booths, choirs, worship, prayer, floats.

Movement members featured in an Observer story on trans people of faith.

Thank you for all you as supporters and members have offered this growing movement of trans, non-binary, Two Spirit, intersex, asexual, pansexual, bi, lesbian, gay people and communities—and our cisgendered and heterosexual allies. You are the reason for our name: ensemble (together) and united.

Advent 2018 blessings from AUSE’s chairs

Mary, Joseph and Jesus depicted as a migrant family, fleeing at night with Jesus wrapped in a purple blanket, and only a small backpack and a pink shopping bag.

La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family), by iconographer Kelly Latimore. https://kellylatimoreicons.com/gallery/img_2361/

We have arrived at a season of waiting and anticipation. It is a time to remember that even as we feel the bleakness and exhaustion from waiting, we restore our faith by remaining grounded in hope, peace, love, and joy. As Christians, we symbolize Advent with the colour of the sky during the small hours of the night before dawn breaks. This twilight blue speaks to our hope and longing for a world with Christ’s peace. As we prepare our hearts for the Christ child to be born, we want to thank you for your efforts in creating communities of faith where Jesus’ radical hospitality is lived out.

We are thrilled to share with you that in November we welcomed a current Council member, Katie Vardy, into their new role as co-chair within our organization. Katie is a candidate for ordained ministry hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland. They are very passionate about intersectional feminism and Jesus, along with a deep love for their four pups (Jack, Sally, Macie, and Capri) and mental health advocacy.

May hope be the lens that shows you the beauty and strength of resilience in our communities.

May you be baptized in the waters of peace that keep you strong and soft enough to face all challenges

May your Love be celebrated

and may Joy be the gift that transcends all of our fears this Advent season.

Michiko Bown-Kai and Katie Vardy

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.”