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Commonwealth countries, an unwelcome holdover from colonization — despite the fact that such laws have been long since repealed in the United Kingdom.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.”

Call for Health Canada ban on conversion therapy

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.  

BC churches take action in support of SOGI 123 resources

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.

Affirming PIE Day- hold March 14, 2019!

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 communications@ause.ca with your ideas, questions, and recipes.

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