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.

Affirming Awards 2017: your nominations needed!

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.

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.

Affirming award nominations 2017- Ministries and people

  • Tell us why and how this ministry or person has inspired you and others. Please be specific, and take as much space as you need. You can also attach a Word document, PDFs, photos and more below. These will help our committee make its decision, and will help us share the story of this person or ministry.

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.

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.