Food for thought: quotes from the annual conference
Many words of challenge, wisdom, and Good News were shared at the Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble 2016 annual conference. Many more could be added. If you encountered some thoughts, prayers, or words that moved you, send them to communications(at)ause(dot)ca and we’ll include them in a future newsletter.
“You need to know that your work saves lives. Faith and the LGBT communities have been divorced for far too long. It’s time to end this separation.” — Jeremy Dias,
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
“The gift Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble brings is the gift of seeing God in every human being. We began with a moment of silence for victims of violence because the toll mounts ever higher. We need new role models for finding a way out of that. Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble has chosen another way… To draw the gaze from the centre to the margins, to say no one is outside of God’s love. Therefore, we need to find a way to honour communities who live this way… Affirm United has helped the United Church begin to do this. We are not there. But we are now in a different place than we have been in the past. Remember those who gave so much, risked so much, dare so much that we can be in this church today.” – Jordan Cantwell, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, conference opening night. (Below)
“The United Church needs to do better at supporting global LGBT human rights. We need to speak against biblical idolatry that makes LGBT people unsafe. Being visual and vocal are crucial. We need to counter religious extremism. We need to support safe space for children.” – Rachel Clark, human rights activist with Amnesty International.
“We all fall under the grace of God and come to God as we are… We are trying to cascade our policy statement into conferences, presbyteries, and congregations, not only for study, but for action….
One of the things that became apparent here (at the conference) is that Affirm is very white. So, ask yourself how can others be invited, Indigenous people for example, so that you represent the rainbow.” – Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, one of the United Church of Canada’s oldest global partnerships.
“We have had our own tensions between the L, G, B, and T but we agreed that we would not abandon each other.” –Elaine Saralegui, pastor of the only MCC congregation in Cuba, describing how her congregation has brought together differing identities within LGBTQIA communities.(Below: United Church of Canada Partner Council and national staff.)
“It is hard to find the words. The kindness and generosity you have shown us will help us move into the hard dialogue we need to do in our own organization.” Necta Montes, president of the World Student Christian Federation
“I came here looking for practical applications to help move our congregations. I have learned that we need to be contextual. This (Affirming process) is a treasure, a jewel, you have been working on for years.” Horacio Mensones, Methodist Church in Argentina.
“When I first arrived, I felt that the issue of Syria, of refugees, and of the Christian community in the Middle East needed to be the focus. But I’ve heard a lot here that helps me realize the importance of LGBT human rights… I’m glad I have taken from this visit a lot of experiences that will become the cornerstone of the journey.” Father Jimmy Danho, Middle East Council of Churches
“Even though you know others are working on these issues, now I know in a different way because of coming here. Knowing we will keep working together is important. Before I thought I knew what we needed to do. Now I need to think about that… And think about who I am. One of the big things is that we say we’re working on LGBT, but we need to understand how this cuts across other realities that need to be held together: race, class, religious identities…” Elaine Saralegui, pastor of the only MCC congregation in Cuba. (www.facebook.com/icm.somos/) (Below: Jim Hodgson, Latin America/ Caribbean partnerships coordinator- United Church of Canada; Pastor Elaine; and Bishop Marigza, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.)