Quebec Presbytery LGBTQ training

People often comment to AUSE that they appreciate ideas about how to live out being Affirming. Et voilà: Mount Royal United Church in Québec writes with an update about their Affirming work.

“…thanks to the thoughtful leadership of member Cindy Casey, MRUC put forward a motion to Presbytery (which successfully passed) re: training for ministers in LGBTQ issues similar to training about sexism and racism.”  Have a look at the motion wording, and consider whether this is something to bring forward in your new Region when the time is right.

Mount Royal’s work goes even wider: “We have a committee working very hard to obtain the necessary funding to be able to construct a main-floor, gender neutral, handicap-accessible bathroom facility. We are cautiously optimistic! We also contribute ongoing financial support to Beaconsfield LGBTQ Youth Centre. We are working on making our Affirming status more visible for visitors; our new mission statement is printed on a regular basis in our order of service; the LGTBQ community is quite regularly included in the pastoral prayers.”

New resources to help your work

These resources are designed to help your work, whether you’re considering beginning the Affirming process or have been an Affirming ministry for decades. Check out our infographic, our Becoming Affirming flyer, and our travelling banners. Note that we all Affirming resources are available on our Affirming ministry and our Resources/ handouts pages.  Continue reading

Action to support Rev LIM Borah and the Sumdol Hyanglin congregation, South Korea

In past newsletters we’ve written about the Sumdol Hyanglin,  the only “out” LGBTQIA+ affirming congregation in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, one of the United Church of Canada’s oldest and closest partner churches. AUSE is fortunate to have a number of members who connect regularly with this courageous congregation. This summer Toronto Conference, which is newly Affirming, hosted a public event with Sumdol Hyanglin members and their pastor, Rev. LIM Borah.

Now Rev. Borah and the congregation face a new struggle, as attempts are being made to declare her ministry heretical. An action addressed to the World Communion of Reformed Churches has been launched, and your signature is needed. Please share the link widely, along with the links above, and this English background piece (below) from Pastor Craig Barlet, who ministers at the Open Doors Metropolitan Community Church in Seoul. Continue reading

Loving responses to the hateful Nashville Statement

In late August, a broad group of pastors in the US issued a transphobic and homophobic “Nashville Statement” condemning gender and sexual diversity in God’s name. No one knows what the special occasion was, and the statement was nothing new, though none the less hateful and damaging.

Immediate opposition was sparked; this article names but a few examples and adds AUSE’s own comments.

Continue reading

Remember Orlando: ring your church bell 49 times June 12

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 New-BellOne 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/

Welcome: coordinator for Living Apology project

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.

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

Take action: Bill C-16 stalled in the Senate

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.canadian-trans-flag

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.

Becoming Affirming across generations: Outdoor ministries

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.

Morning games at Cave Springs United Church camp, ON- one of the outdoor ministries involved in the Affirming task group.

Continue reading

Opportunities to welcome LGBTQ refugees

Long before the suffering of millions of Syrian refugees finally reached the mainstream media, Canadian groups were sponsoring people seeking refuge from around the world. For decades, United Church congregations have been part of an innovative sponsorship option offered by the federal government and the national United Church; any local church can offer to support one or more refugees for at least one year, and in so doing opens the door to their coming to Canada. Continue reading