Clarity on being Affirming in new Regions

In late February 2018, an important letter was sent to all Affirming and in-process presbyteries and Conferences, in light of the 2019 amalgamation of these two key

Celebrations of becoming Affirming are always public, and almost always include cake. Agassiz Presbytery, MB, celebrates becoming Affirming, February 2017.

United Church of Canada structures. The letter clarifies the status of Affirming Conferences and presbyteries. Please download the letter here and feel free to share it.

One of the most significant gifts AUSE has experienced over the past decade is the rapidly increasing number of Affirming presbyteries and Conferences. Commitments like these have helped our movement grow beyond congregations, while continuing to honour the vital place of congregations in our movement.

Affirming and in process presbyteries and Conference have pushed us to reflect on LGBTQ+ radical inclusion in the policies, personnel work, education, and community that are all a vital expression of presbyteries’ and Conferences’ work in the church and the world. This has been and will continue to be a crucial part of AUS

Chignetco Presbytery, NS, celebrates becoming Affirming, 2016.

E’s self-understanding as the United Church moves into three courts.

As the church’s work on Remit 1 advanced and it became clearer the remit would likely

pass, AUSE realized it faced a difficult question. While numbers of Affirming ministries are growing rapidly, the vast majority of all church ministries and courts are not Affirming. No matter the proposed boundaries of the new Regions, we could see no case in which both the former Conference and all the former presbyteries within the bounds of a new Region would be Affirming.

Our past experience with pastoral charge amalgamations had earlier led AUSE to adopt this policy: If one or more of the entities joining the new amalgamation was not Affirming, the new entity would need to enter (or re-enter) the Affirming process.

After careful reflection, the AUSE Council has decided that the same policy needs to apply to new Regions. All new Regions will need to enter the Affirming process if they wish to become Affirming.

Presenting the Affirming certificate at Northlands Presbytery, ManitobaNW Ontario Conference, 2016.

As with pastoral charge amalgamations, Regions represent a new creation, with new

relationships and new understandings and practices of ministry. To not re-enter the process risks excluding those who had not previously worked with an Affirming process, or risks closing down space for conversations that will include important information and address very legitimate concerns.

As Linda Hutchinson, our Eastern Affirming coordinator puts it, “this as an opportunity for that deep conversation about something really important and meaningful, which can be a positive experience as new regions form.” As the Regions come in to being, AUSE encourages those part of the new structures that were Affirming to help ensure that the Affirming values continue to be brought forward in the new structure.

AUSE commits to working closely with new Regions as they move through their own birthing process and begin to consider the Affirming process. We will support you however we can, and our movement will itself be challenged and changed by your Affirming work.

AUSE welcomes further conversation at any time. We hope and trust that this is the beginning of our conversation and discernment together. Contact information for conversations is included in the clarity letter.

Manitou Conference, after their May 2017 vote to become Affirming.