Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble Welcomes United Church’s Apology Process

(Version en français ici)

Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble is excited to hear the news that The United Church of Canada’s General Council has voted to begin a process of a living apology to LGBTT2Q persons. We look forward to working with the United Church to live into this promise. We congratulate the General Council on this important way forward.

Collin Smith, president of the AU/SE Council.
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Announcing our 2015 honourees:

Affirming Ministry and volunteers of the year awards

Every year, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble is pleased to honour ministries and volunteers who have inspired us to new hope and energy over the past year and beyond. With gratitude we name the exceptional contributions of Trinity- St. Andrew’s United Church in Brighton, ON; of Brian Mitchell-Walker; and of Rev. Shaun Fryday.

Affirming Ministries Award, 2015: Trinity- St. Andrew’s United Church, Brighton ON.

Submitted by Judy Amsbury

In June 2012, Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church in Brighton, ON became the firstTrinity-StAndrews Affirming Ministry in Hills and Shores Presbytery, Bay of Quinte Conference. They have hosted a Conference Affirming Ministry workshop and have mentored five more congregations as they successfully worked through their Affirming Ministries process, advising, encouraging, loaning resources, and meeting with Affirming committees.  Hills and Shores now has the highest percentage of Affirming ministries in Canada.  TSA has walked in the Belleville PRIDE Parade for the last 3 years and proudly marched with their banner at World Pride in Toronto in 2014.

Social Justice in Action
Situated in a large fruit-growing area on the shores of Lake Ontario which employs hundreds of temporary migrant workers, TSA has a much needed and unique outreach program, Friends with Migrant Workers Brighton whose mission is to build community with migrant workers through friendship and hospitality.

They offer a safe space for the workers to meet every second Sunday July through October, to socialize, enjoy a nutritious meal somewhere other than in their bunkhouse, and share stories and concerns. As one of their main links to the community, TSA provides information about community resources and activities. They also collect used clothing & sundries and help find affordable items such as suitcases, warm clothing, laptops, etc. The Quinte Community Health Centre provides extended hours on Thursdays, and workers are driven there if they need medical attention.

Notes of Hope
Members meet monthly to write “urgent action” letters regarding human rights abuses and other issues.

Trinity St Andrew’s Affirming process was a resoundingly successful model of thoughtful planning, effective listening, respectful and thorough communication, particularly in the initial stages when met with some quite vocal concerns.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Brian Mitchell-Walker

Former AU/SE president Annette Taylor writes,

“I am nominating Brian Mitchell-Walker for the Affirm United/S’affirmer ensemble BrianMitchell-WalkerVolunteer Award.  Brian has been involved in the work of AU/SE since the 1980’s, beginning with the Affirm Group in Toronto.  He was a part of the National Coordinating Committee, including the role of secretary in the mid 1990’s.  Brian was a very active member of the AU-SE Council from 2006 to 2012 and was an effective Co-Chair for three years.

Brian has also been involved in the Affirming Ministries program since the 1990’s.  He has taken the role of consultant, Affirming Ministries Coordinator, Co-Chair of the Affirming Ministries group and mentor to new Affirming Ministry Coordinators.

Brian also chaired the United Church of Canada’s National GLBTT Consultation, which involved planning 10 regional gatherings across the country in order to collect information about how homophobia and heterosexism are present in the church.   There were many recommendations from that consultation including the need for an apology.  As a result of this work a proposal is coming to General Council 42 called Living Apology to Members of the LGBTTQ Communities.

Brian has been the AU/SE webmaster for over 10 years, first as a volunteer and in recent years under contract to the AU-SE Council.  He now works closely with our new AU-SE Coordinator to ensure that the work of the AU-SE Council, and our Affirming Ministries is available to everyone.

Brian has been a relentless advocate for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities for many years and I believe he would be a very worthy recipient of the AU-SE Volunteer Award.”

Volunteer of the Year Award: Rev. Shaun E. Fryday

“It is with great pleasure, on behalf of the LGBTQ Youth Centre and the West Island ShaunFrydayRainbow Seniors Center in Beaconsfield, QC that we nominate Reverend Shaun Fryday for the Volunteer of the Year Award.

As the minister of Beaconsfield United, the Affirming congregation from which our centres emerged, Shaun’s steadfast commitment to the integrity of our programs and the intentional living-out of the congregation’s commitment to the LGBTQ community has been outstanding. In addition to providing the leadership and insight into the development of our centres, Shaun also volunteers his services of care, support, guidance, and spirituality that arise from those we serve. It is for this part of Shaun’s dedication and commitment to the LGBTQ community, that drives the nomination for the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Affirm committee.

Shaun models inclusion through his attentive care, but also through his advocacy. Whether as a participant on a monthly radio talk show, through print media or speaking engagements, Shaun paves the way for the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in association with the church wherever he goes. On two separate occasions Shaun has spoken on LGBTQ issues at International Human Rights conferences at his own expense. More importantly, to those of us whom he is representing and returning to after these endeavours, he is an example of how to live inclusion. Shaun responds to any need of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two- spirited, queer and questioning youth, adults and seniors, and this dedication has made a significant difference and transformed lives. He further volunteers his time contributing his quiet presence in the background, offering encouragement and support to volunteers, board members, and program participants alike.

With Shaun’s energy and commitment, LGBTQ inclusion in church and society at Beaconsfield United and as lived through the Youth, Adult and Seniors centres involves: Gay Prom; Summer and Winter Camp; biweekly BBQ’s and dinners; parent’s group, regular drop- in schedule; gay-straight alliance development in high schools; concerts in the park; workshops on overcoming homophobia and so much more. Shaun’s dynamism and commitment to inclusion both in society and at Beaconsfield United, as lived through the community, is the knowledge that our centres and the church are a place of welcome for all people, and is widely celebrated within Montreal’s West Island Community. Shaun truly welcomes everyone into the church and centres with the same equal measure of hospitality, care, and responsibility. Shaun’s door is always open, his embrace always welcoming and his voice always heard holding up the marginalized.

We are honoured to be part of the vision of Affirming that Shaun has implemented, and we whole-heartedly nominate him for the Volunteer of the Year Award.”

AU/SE at General Council 42 in Corner Brook, NL

And for our final summer item: From Halifax, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble will head east to the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. If you’re going to be at the United Church of Canada’s triennial national meeting, the 42nd General Council, please stop by our display for a visit! (Note that visitors to General Council are welcome.) If you are familiar with AU/SE and/ or belong to an Affirming ministry or ministry in process, we also invite you to volunteer at the display for an hour or two.  Help us have good conversations with the commissioners, planners, volunteers, and guests. You can find us in the display area; please ask at the venue for location details.

Affirming Ministry Coordinator: Call for volunteers and nominations

Anne Hebb, our coordinator for Affirming Ministries in Eastern Canada, is stepping down after many years of helping ministries with their Affirming process. Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble is deeply grateful to Anne for her contributions. Along with Brian Mitchell-Walker for the West and Linda Hutchinson for Ontario, and their predecessors, Anne has helped more than 120 ministries across Canada become intentionally safer and more welcoming of the LGBTQ community. Our thanks go to these skilled and compassionate volunteers who are at the heart of helping our church make its policies a lived reality.

Click here for a description of this important work (PDF)

If you are interested in or feel called to this work, and would like to join the other two Affirming Ministry coordinators in this crucial and rewarding work, please send a note to the nominating committee of Affirm United at

A Long and Winding Road – April 18, 2015

A Bay of Quinte Conference Affirming Ministries Workshop:

A Long and Winding Road?
 . . . not necessarily!!

Saturday April 18, 2015  9:30 – 4:00
Trinity United Church, Peterborough
360 Reid Street (Corner of Simcoe St)

$20 includes Lunch & Materials – Please pay at the door
Worship, Sing, Learn, Network, Be Inspired!!!

Please click here to open a poster in pdf format for more details and registration information.  Help us by printing out a copy and posting it at your church.

The Bay of Quinte Conference Action group ( 10 volunteers) has been holding 1 – 2 workshops a year since 2008, when there was one Affirming Ministry in the Conference. Currently there are 10 Affirming Ministries –  8 congregations, 1 Presbytery, and Conference itself, with 2 more congregations certified, plus a presbytery, the Conference UCW executive and 10 more congregations formally in process.  Upon request, Committee members also personally meet with and support any prospective group within the Conference borders. Contact Jim MacGregor at for more information.

New Marketing Coordinator Hired!

We are pleased to announce that Julie Graham has joined the Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble team as our part-time (10 hours per week) Marketing Coordinator! Julie brings a wealth of experience from years of involvement in the United Church of Canada, as well as many other social justice initiatives! Our previous Coordinator accepted full-time work at his dream job so we were happy for him but sad to see him go. However we are delighted for this great new energy to join us.

Julie will be working with AU/SE’s council to make our communication consistent and engaging to existing members and ministries as well as to new contacts.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to connecting with you more in the coming months!

Pam Rocker and Collin Smith
Co-Chairs, Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble

Marketing Coordinator for Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble (AU/SE)

This part-time contract position (approximately 10 hours per week) will assist AU/SE in living into its mandates of education, advocacy and support with a specific focus on developing and maintaining communications and marketing strategies for the organization. 

AU/SE is a Christian organization that works in the area of education to promote greater awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity issues. We also work to end discrimination against people in church, society and our own organization and we also help people of all sexual orientations and gender identities find support and community within the United Church.

In light of the exciting growth that AU/SE has experienced over recent years and the realization that expected further growth needs to be sustainable, AU/SE has established a term contract position to assist in the essential duties of the organization. Based on an assessment that there is potential for significant future growth, there is a clear need for consistent support in order to enact our values with excellence. In an effort to be not only reactive but proactive in our approach towards the future, this is an opportunity that could have a significant impact on our organization.

Please click on the following link to open a pdf file of a position description document with more details and where to send your letter of interest and résumé:
All applications are due by January 15, 2015.

United Church of Canada Celebrates World Pride

World Pride comes to Toronto this summer, and the United Church is participating.  Our Moderator the Rt. Rev. Gary Paterson will preach at a special United Church Pride Service at St. Andrew’s United Church on June 22nd and at Metropolitan United Church on June 21st and 29th, and will participate in the Pride Parade on June 29th.  The United Church will host interfaith events, a human rights conference and a United Church float.  Affirm United will host a display at the Streetfair; you are invited to sign up to staff the display in 2-hour shifts.  Visit the United Church World Pride webpage for information and to get involved!

April 9th: Remember to Wear Something Pink!

Bullying is a major problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and over the Internet. April 9th, 2014 marks the International Day of Pink. It’s a day where communities across the country and across the world unite in celebrating diversity and raising awareness to stop homophobic, transphobic and all other forms of bullying.

Each year on the second Wednesday of April, millions of people wear pink to remember that positive actions make a difference and that the change starts with each one of us. The MORRE committee has created a bulletin insert with a prayer for The Day of Pink.  We invite your congregations to pray together in worship the Sunday before (April 6), in solidarity with many other people in the world who will be observing this important social justice issue. And of course to wear pink on April 9!

Click here to open pdf file of Day of Pink Bulletin Insert (with prayer)

Workshop at Sydenham Street UC on November 1, 2014

In celebration of their 15 years of being an Affirming Ministry, Sydenham Street United Church will be hosting a workshop on November 1, 2104.  The keynote speaker is Rev. Michael Blair, the Executive Minister, Church in Mission/L’Église en Mission, for The United Church of Canada.  The workshop is being sponsored by the Affirming Ministries Action Group of the Bay of Quinte Conference in partnership with Sydenham Street UC.

Mark your calendars and go to their website to see more details as we get closer to the event.