Many Canadian Christians know that churches are a key part of support and sponsorship for people seeking refuge in Canada. Together, we see this as living out the gospel and prophetic call to seek justice and offer healing. But when we focus on LGBTQIA+ refugees, the picture changes radically. Did you know the United Church of Canada is one of the very few faith based Sponsorship Agreement Holders within Canada’s LGBTQ refugee program? And that there are more LGBTQIA people seeking refuge than there are sponsors?
Here’s where you come in. You can help change this. Please have a look at the United Church’s excellent new LGBTQIA refugee web resources, dedicated to helping increase the number of ministries who will sponsor LGBTQIA people in need of safety and security. Scroll down for their summary PDFs and download them to share. Then: Continue reading
Don’t give up pie for Lent! Announcing Affirming PIE Day 14 March 2019 and our new website and video!
What’s PIE? Public+Intentional+Explicit= PIE. These are the standards for a real and radical welcome for LGBTQIA2S+ people in our church. Draw the circle wide and join in! Host a story telling event complete with pie and join many others across the land and the church as we learn together how to offer this welcome. Co-hosted by Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble and Affirming Connections. All traditions and backgrounds welcome: you do not need to be a United Church ministry or member to join the fun. All PIE stories are an important source of inspiration (and possibly nutrition).
Planning resources, full info, and event sign up and calendar: www.pieday.ca
Remember: this is all about you and your ministry! If you’re planning an event, we need to hear about it.
Our video to launch PIE Day and to give some tips of what Affirming looks and feel like is coming soon! Our hosts take us through a journey of pie and what PIE (Public, Intentional, and Explicit) can mean for you! You will have free access to the video by March 1 and can plan to show it at your PIE event or for any Affirming initiative.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas, questions, and recipes.
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.”
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
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
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.