Statement in Response to a Rise in Hatred

Anti-Hate Statement from King Julez

Hello Members and Supporters of Affirm United. Its King Julez here, and I’m one of your chairs on the board of directors. I’m here to talk to you about the rise of hate across our country and across our ministries. At Affirm United, we denounce this hate. This Homophobia, this Transphobia, Bi-phobia, all of it. We know that denouncing it isn’t enough, so we’re also taking action. Members of our board are meeting with folks from Affirming Connections, as well as the General Council Office at the United Church of Canada, to think about the ways that we can actively support and honour the lives of 2SLGBTQ+ folks in our communities. We are looking at providing educational resources for staff, lay people, and all of your communities to combat hate and to be able to provide safe spaces for folks in your area.

We are collaborating to build this support and to provide everything that we can, because we know that this is a difficult time, in many of our lives, and especially those of us who fall within in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

We ask that you be our eyes and ears in your various locations. We strive to protect those of you who are victims of this kind of hate and of this discrimination. But we need to know what’s going on as well. Feel free to email our Communications Coordinator, M, at communications@ause.ca, or through our communications portal on our website. We want to know what’s going on. We want to know where it’s happening. We want to know where we can best support you. Please let us in and let us know what we can do and when we can do it.

We are here for you; we are here for all of the people who need it. We are stiving to do the best that we can, and we know that we can always do better.

Thank you for being a part of this community, and for trying your best to protect and create safe space in your communities.

We know that this hate is hard. We know that its continuing to come. We are here. We are powerful and we are strong as a community. Thank you for doing everything that you do.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually (from its inception) on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. It is a day to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. It has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.

On November 20, we remember and honour Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people killed around the world because of hatred and oppression. Affirm United/S’Affirmer Ensemble renews our commitment to fighting transphobia in all its forms.

Please find below a message from Rev. Eli Carter-Morgan – Western Affirming Ministries Co-Ordinator!

My name is Eli (EE-lye) Carter-Morgan and I use they-them pronouns.  I am here to re-introduce myself as the western Affirming Ministries Co Ordinator.  I have had the honour of serving in this role since 2016, but a re-introduction is needed as I am going by a new name and pronouns.

I also hope that this time can be a learning experience for those of you who have never experienced working with someone with a non-binary identity.  I am happy to answer any questions or be a part of any local (Edmonton) or online panels if that is helpful. 

As a small child I was known by a derivative of my middle name, Annie, or as my double named Elizabeth Anne. With school came the need for something shorter – Elizabeth.

My teen years brought a new identity that fit me better, and I have gone by Liz ever since, though I added a Rev. Before and a Morgan to the end, marking important changes in my life.

I have never fit comfortably within the gender binary, and as time has passed, society has produced different ways of understanding and expressing this. We have always used “they/them” pronouns when unsure of someone’s gender, but it has now become more common.  I am agender – which means the category of gender has little meaning when applied to myself. This is one type of non- binary, a type of transsexual.

With new times come new names.  The biblical story of the call of Samuel, and the role Eli (EE- lye) plays in that story speak strongly to me, so I will begin going by the name Eli starting July 1.

I recognize that change is difficult, and I expect people will sometimes use the previous names or pronouns. The best thing to do is correct yourself quickly and move on.   There is a huge difference between a slip of the tongue and the malicious misgendering that has led to media attention and discipline of employees etc.

I deeply appreciate Linda and Kim helping to support the western ministries this summer as I have been settling back into Edmonton and my new call serving Spirit West United Church.

Affirming Ministries Video!

Let’s create together!

I would love for all of the Affirming Ministries across Canada to send me a short and simple video clip!

I will use these clips to create a montage of Affirming Ministries sharing their love!

What should you do?

Take a video of your Affirming Ministry blowing a kiss. It could be one member, two members or the entire community. In the video, you will (1) reach out to your left to grab a kiss (2) turn to your right and blow a kiss in that direction. Super simple.

Please be sure to have your phone/camera landscape view.

The video file should be short enough that you can easily email it to me at laura@mcclureunitedchurch.org. If you have any problems uploading, please send me an email and we’ll find another way.

I need all videos by end of day on Sunday, June 12th.

I will put them together and have a completed video by Friday, June 17th. Feel free to use it in your Pride or Affirming Ministry services.




AUSE AGM!

Join us on July 14-17 for our AGM!
Come as a voting representative from your community of faith, or grab your own membership and represent as yourself with a vote!
More details to come, stay tuned! See you there!

Meet your Board Post #12 – Meet our Consultants!

Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble is working with two consultants, Brian Hoessler and Kit Loewen, to help us imagine what our organization can be and develop a plan for the coming years. Over the next few months, Brian and Kit will be consulting and engaging with the AUSE Council, staff, members, and other key stakeholders to identify the organization’s root causes of success, articulate new directions, and identify pathways forward.

Today, you’ll meet Kit!

Kit Loewen (She/Her, B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed) lives with her family in Saskatoon, on the traditional territory of the Plains Cree (Nēhiyawak), Saulteaux, Dakota and Nakoda people bound by the commitments made in Treaty 6.  Kit’s home rests on land settled by La Prairie Round/Prairie Métis settlements, including Road Allowance communities. 

Among other things, Kit is a consultant committed to working with non-profit organizations to support their vitality in their communities through a variety of organizational development approaches (which include governance refinement, strategy work, and non-profit life cycles). Kit is an active member of St. Martin’s United Church, where she is currently a member of the Affirming Action Group and Chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee. Currently, she is pleased to sit as an ally-member of the Board of OUTSaskatoon, whose mission is to “To uplift 2SLGBTQ people by leading, serving, and supporting in a dynamic community.”

Prayer and Statement in Response to Recent Hate Crimes

Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble grieves the news of multiple hateful attacks on our communities of faith that are working to live into their present or pending Affirming Status.

We pray for St. Andrew’s United Church in Hamilton ON, who had racist stickers placed on their church sign.

We pray for the community of First United Church in Fort Saskatchewan, AB who had their Pride flag stolen.

We pray for Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, ON who had vandalism using homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti.

We pray for St. Luke’s United Church in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia, whose Pride flag was torn down and a stone thrown through the glass door of the church building.

We pray for Scarboro United Church in Calgary, Alberta, who had their Pride banner damaged by cuts and burn marks along with the word “repent” written in black marker.

We at Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble aim to Educate, provide Action and Support people of all sexual orientations and genders, and sexes in finding support and community within The United Church of Canada. We encourage all communities of faith to become PIE: Public, Intentional and Explicit. This means being Public: Being out and proud! Using symbols, signs and words which are echoed outside and inside the church building, in all facets of church life; Intentional: An Affirming ministry is deliberate in their process of study, education and dialogue with members of their faith community. They ensure that the history of oppression and discrimination by the Church is both understood and acknowledged, and that continued growth, education, and celebration are part of its ministry; and Explicit: An Affirming ministry is very clear about who it welcomes. It names queer, trans, and Two Spirit people and the gifts they are.

We understand that being PIE can be difficult. But we take solace in the messages that came after these hateful attacks – at St. Luke’s where the Pride flag was torn, Rev. Rick Gunn said in a statement on facebook “We may never know what was going through this man’s head or heart. Tearing down a Pride flag is a message all on its own, however.” Rev. Gunn encouraged his community of faith to pray for the perpetrator.

Similarly, at Scarboro United, where their banner was damaged by cuts and burn marks, Rev. Erin Klassen said, “This most recent experience is an important reminder that being an Affirming Congregation, an Affirming Region, an Affirming Denomination, an Affirming Society, does not happen by accident and should not be taken for granted. It requires intention, discernment, agency, and action.”

We agree.

We pray for these communities of faith and stand in solidarity with our siblings in the LGBTQQIA+ and Two Spirit communities that continue to be the target of hate crimes. We remember and proclaim our commitment to working for justice and inclusion for all. We will continue to strive for peace and equity for all people through our daily actions in church and community.

Meet your Board Post #11 – Meet our Consultants!

Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble is working with two consultants, Brian Hoessler and Kit Loewen, to help us imagine what our organization can be and develop a plan for the coming years. Over the next few months, Brian and Kit will be consulting and engaging with the AUSE Council, staff, members, and other key stakeholders to identify the organization’s root causes of success, articulate new directions, and identify pathways forward.

Today, you’ll meet Brian!

Brian Hoessler (He/They, B.Sc, M.A) is an independent consultant who enjoys working with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to build their capacity to make positive change in the world. He is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Strong Roots Consulting, a firm based in Saskatoon on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis.

Over the past decade, Brian has worked with over 30 non-profit organizations, government agencies, and multi-stakeholder initiatives in the areas of program evaluation, organizational capacity-building, and strategic planning.

Brian grew up in Winnipeg and as an adult has lived in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Kingston (Ontario) before moving to Saskatoon in 2012. He is currently an adherent with SSUC-Saskatoon (formerly Meewasin Valley United Church), where he participated in the congregation’s process of becoming an Affirming Ministry.