PIE video- more about the hosts and ministries!

People have been asking about the hosts of our new video, who take us through what PIE means, and spend a lot of time eating pie. And our new 15 minute free video on a Public, Intentional, and Explicit welcome for LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people also features five Affirming ministries from BC, Alberta, Ontario, and PEI. Learn more about them all here! (What’s “Affirming”? Learn more here.)

Running time: 15 minutes. Download or stream and enjoy: https://vimeo.com/320966739

Thank you to Gifts with Vision and all who support Affirming Connections and Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble with your time, love, and resources. Read on to get to know our storytellers, and please share the video widely.


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Why P.I.E? at Kamloops United Church

A talk offered by Christine Dolson March 17 for Affirming PIE Day 2019 (drawing the circle wide on or after Pi Day and exploring Public, Intentional, and Explicit celebration/ welcome of LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people.)

Good morning!

As you can see we have a bit of a pastry situation going on.

I want to talk to you about pie, all kinds of pie and about some of our pie practices around here.

Affirm United is the national organization that works for the full inclusion of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations in the United Church, and in wider society. They help ministries to become truly welcoming safer sacred spaces. In 2019, to have a little fun and build awareness, they declared that March 14 would be National Affirming Pie Day. Today, belatedly, KUC is celebrating PIE day.

Why PIE ? Well… Public; Intentional; Explicit is the standard for an affirming welcome of LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit people. Two-spirit is a uniquely Indigenous identity.

Why Pi?    Love is a circle. It’s irrational, inclusive and infinite. So why not add that affirming twist to International Pi Day celebrations on March 14?

Why pie? …Why not?  Pie makes everything better!

So let’s slice up some PIE. Continue reading

A great example of an inclusive marriage policy

Trinity United Church in Cannington, ON will become an Affirming ministry in the spring of 2019. As part of this journey, they’ve met the requirement of having an inclusive marriage policy- and they’ve met it with some inclusive and very clear wording. Affirm United/  S’affirmer Ensemble is often asked for examples of the kind of policies created by Affirming ministries or ministries in the process. Here you go! Trinity United Church-Cannington Inclusive Marriage Policy (PDF).

Uplifted as equal- becoming Affirming at Gower St United Church, NL

Note from Affirm United: On January 27 2019, Gower Street United Church in St. John’s NL voted to become Affirming. They will become the first Affirming ministry on the island, joining Labrador City on the mainland in Labrador. And great will be the rejoicing! Many thanks to Larry Kelly for his permission to share his words. 

Reflection by Larry Kelly – January 13, 2019, Gower St United Church in St. John’s NL

Good Morning! Last Sunday Lorne spoke about the differences between welcoming and affirming congregations. This morning’s affirm message speaks to why affirming congregations may be more important now than ever. Continue reading

Sponsoring LGBTQIA refugees- a call from the United Church

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

Why I’m an Affirm United member-Emma Pipes

Rev. Emma  Pipes is one of AUSE’s awesome Council members. She serves Knox pastoral charge in Caledon, ON. She’s kicking off our series of stories on why people choose to become members of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble. Are you a member who’s happy to tell our wider family why you made that decision? Write to our communications coordinator and we’ll post your story! Wonder why becoming a member makes a difference? Read more here

Why am I a member of Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble?

I often find myself moving between places and people.

Sometimes people ask me to get on board with what is going on already and often I can do that.  However, there is something special about people who are working together to figure everything out as it happens around them. Sometimes this can be challenging, but I really like being in the midst of conversation about the world and its realities.  I especially find meaning in working together to reduce oppression and hatred the world through a variety of ways especially for LGBTQ2+ people.

Being part of Affirm United gives me a forum to continue asking questions, learning and engaging with real people and their stories on a very real level as well as being a part of decisions that would affect change in the world. I care that the voice of those who would identify as part of the LGBTQ2+ community would be heard and valued in the church and wider world as years go on.

Members and donors: our ministry would be impossible without you

If you are able to contribute money as well as time and talent, know that your donations and memberships make up the vast majority of AUSE’s budget. THANK YOU for your generosity and your deep commitment to safer sacred spaces. Have a look at our 2018 year in review for more details about the year behind us.

We have around 150 ministries in the (free) Affirming process, and our budget helps us accompany them. This figure has almost doubled over the past five years: thank you for helping us keep pace.

Your donations enable our volunteer Council to gather, and for our network to come together once a year. Thanks to you, we can keep that annual gathering affordable and offer full subsidies. Thanks to you, we can gather a task group on outdoor ministries (camps) in the Affirming process. We can hold meetings to explore new avenues for the Affirming process.

Gathering and communion at Dundas Square, Toronto, as part of the 2018 annual conference.

Your memberships also keep us strong. Often this work is isolating, and it’s always geographically stretched. When Affirming or ally ministries, and individuals and households, take out memberships, you help us create stronger relationships. And when we get a rare chance to meet and worship together in person, the conversation never ceases- as our 2018 conference in Toronto showed.

This Advent, AUSE thanks you for the ways you have contributed hope, joy, peace, and love to our movement. We look forward to that continued relationship in 2019. Join us or donate anytime!

Farewell and gratitude to Affirming Conferences and Presbyteries

There was a time when being an Affirming ministry meant being a congregation—and local churches are still very much our backbone. But in 2008, the Conference of Manitoba and NorthWestern Ontario took a new step: it became Affirming. It began working with the presbyteries in its borders, and as of 2017, all of these presbyteries were Affirming. Bay of Quinte Conference in Ontario set itself some similar goals, as well as setting up a team to support more Affirming congregations and presbyteries.

Together, and with many others, they helped open up space for eight Conferences and seventeen presbyteries to become Affirming, as of November 2018.

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2018 in review: what your support has accomplished

We’ve had a very rich and busy year. You, our diverse members and supporters, in Affirming ministries and beyond, made it possible.

Twenty-seven new Affirming ministries. Twenty-seven creative, Spirit-led celebrations.

A record-breaking number of ministries in the Affirming process.

An edition of Mandate, the United Church’s justice magazine, dedicated to LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit justice.

A rich national gathering in July warmly hosted by Royal York Road United Church in Toronto (read about it here); generous support for a part time staff person from Toronto Conference, and a wonderful planning team, speakers, and workshop leaders. The conversation in hallways and under the trees and at meals never stopped.

Support for Iridesce:  the Living Apology project as it criss-crossed Canada, gathering stories that are hopeful, profound, and too often sad.  They show us the work that remains to us- and how we might approach it.

Wonderful turnouts at the workshops offered by both AUSE and Iridesce at the Festival of Faith, prior to General Council.

The launch of the Iridesce play at General Council- your stories, on the stage and live streamed.

Dozens and dozens of local Affirming events: workshops, speakers, film screenings, drag shows, vigils for Trans Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day, physical presence to block a (so-called Christian) hate group active at Prides in southern Ontario, presence at dozens of Pride festivals small and large, through booths, choirs, worship, prayer, floats.

Movement members featured in an Observer story on trans people of faith.

Thank you for all you as supporters and members have offered this growing movement of trans, non-binary, Two Spirit, intersex, asexual, pansexual, bi, lesbian, gay people and communities—and our cisgendered and heterosexual allies. You are the reason for our name: ensemble (together) and united.