Spruce Grove Gay Straight Alliance on the difference a church made

Affirming Connections in Calgary writes, “We want to cheer on that St. Andrew’s United Spruce Grove celebrated becoming an Affirming Ministry on Sunday, April 28!

We received a letter from Spruce Grove GSA Society about their affirming experience with St. Andrews, and it’s amazing – we wanted to share it with you.”

Additional context: St Andrew’s Affirming celebration took place days after Alberta decided on a new provincial government. Alberta’s United Conservative Party won the election, and it had campaigned in part on removing privacy protections that allowed schools to not inform parents when a student joined a GSA.

From Spruce Grove GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Society:
“In January 2018 the Spruce Grove GSA had its very first meeting. Unfortunately for our next meeting, in February, we suddenly found ourselves homeless. I had approximately three weeks to find somewhere to host our youth! I was heartbroken, devastated and crushed. What would I tell our kids, the parents, what would I tell Spruce Grove… our community GSA has suddenly come to a crushing halt.

A friend referred me to Connie Archer from St. Andrew’s United Church. I called her up and she agreed to meet with me at the church the next day.

That morning I dressed so carefully. I had never actually been in a church before. Well…maybe for one or two weddings as a child, but those I don’t think really count…I pulled into the parking lot and I opened the doors to the church, wondering if all of my fears, hopes, and dreams of our GSA really showed on my face.

Letter from Spruce Grove GSA after St Andrew’s Affirming celebration, describing the experience. Click on the photo to open it in full size.

I met with Connie. She was a retired teacher from the Spruce Grove Composite High School, and she spoke of all of the kids there fondly. She already knew all about our Spruce Grove GSA. She proudly showed me newspaper articles on the church bulletin board of our grand opening and the story of why I chose to start the GSA with my child. St Andrew’s United Church was already well on their way to becoming an affirming ministry back in 2018! Then Connie said that they would love to have our GSA in the church! I was so overjoyed!! She showed me a little room off the main foyer. This was where we held our February 2018 meeting.

We grew quickly. In January 2018, our small community GSA held 7 kids from 5 different schools. In February 2018 we jumped to 17 kids from 6 different schools! We quickly realized that we had outgrown the small room in St. Andrew’s United Church….

I connected with Joanne from St Andrew’s and we came up with a new plan! We would have the run of the downstairs hall. Our youth are absolutely overjoyed by this! Sometimes over the last 14 months our numbers have swelled to 24, sometimes during the summer they drop to 7. To date we have seen 46 different youth come through our doors. The one thing that remains consistent is we are always together.

When Connie from St Andrew’s came into our GSA on Friday evening, April 12th, I was a little surprised to see her. We usually have the entire building to ourselves on Friday’s, maybe they had something happening upstairs that evening… but this amazing person came into our GSA full of teenagers, and loud pop music to hand deliver an invitation to our entire LGBTQ community. St Andrew’s United Church is officially becoming an Affirming Ministry!

To so many people St Andrew’s United Church is a home. It is a home to find peace, solitude, faith, family, and friendship.

I will never forget the moment I walked through those doors, I was so scared, walking into somewhere I had never been before, not knowing if I would be welcomed… but our GSA was not only welcomed, we were given a home.

I would love to see St Andrew’s United Church packed with welcoming faces, as they also welcome our LGBTQ community on April 28th!”

– Jody, Spruce Grove GSA Society