Council and Governance

Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble (AU/SE) relies on a volunteer Council that meets twice a year face to face and by conference call every two months or so. Members are drawn from all over the country and together represent a wide range of gifts, skills, and experiences. They oversee the overall direction and strategic planning for the organization. Scroll right down for some bios from these fine people!

Our annual reports offer a great overview of our work, and the work of hundreds of Affirming ministries and ministries in process. Once a year AU/SE gathers the whole community at its annual conference, to which everyone of good will is welcome, no matter your identities. The Conference includes our annual general meeting. We’re a membership-based registered charity, and all members are welcome to vote at our AGM. Your membership as an individual or ministry keeps our movement strong and diverse; please consider joining us.

Some of our 2017 Council, Affirming ministry coordinators, and staff at SpiritPride and the AUSE annual conference, Vancouver, July 2017. Many thanks to members who finished their terms: Judy Amsbury, Jen Carter-Morgan, Warren McDougall, and Collin Smith.

If you’re really interested in us, check out our bylaws. If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Council co-chairs. (Note that inquiries and updates related to the Affirming ministry process should be sent here.)


Your 2020-21 Council:

Executive (as of July 2020):

Co-chair:  Cindy Bourgeois
Co-Chair: René Aguilar
Secretary: Eli Munro
Treasurer: Anne Wood


Members-at-Large (as of July 2020):

Michelle Henry, Rev. Emma Pipes, Diane Skomash, Mallory Brennan, Anthony Smith, David Hall

Ex officio: John Calhoun, Membership Coordinator

Staff:

Julie Graham  (Communications Coordinator ended April, 2020)

Michele Petick (Communications & Marketing Coordinator started May, 2020)

Aaron Miechkota (Living Apology project)

General Council liaison staff: Jordan Sullivan


Biographies : Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble 2020-2021 Council and Affirming Ministry Coordinators:


Mallory Brennan

She/Her | Wesley-Knox (London, ON) | Antler River Watershed 

Member at Large

Mallory works as the Assistant Director / Administrative Assistant / Waterfront Director (depending on the need), at Rainbow Camp in northern Ontario.  Rainbow Camp is a safe space camp experience for 2SLGBTQ+ youth aged 12-17.  Mallory has experience working with 2SLGBTQ+ teens and their families, running camp programs, educational and advocacy work. She is currently the Chair of the Affirming Committee at her home church and has participated in the AUSE AGM and conference in 2018.

Why does this opportunity interest you?

  • “Meeting like-minded people.”
  • “Learning more both for myself and to share with others.”
  • “Interest in the organizational structure of AUSE.”

Anthony Smith

He/Him | St Andrew’s United (Chatham, ON) | Antler River Watershed 

Member at Large

Anthony has years of experience serving on the CK Pride Association of Chatham-Kent, ON Board of Directors as well as serving at his home church on the Worship, Mission and Outreach committees and in the Children’s Ministry.

Why does this opportunity interest you?

  • “Because we are called to be instruments of God’s love and peace to ALL regardless of denomination, gender, sexual orientation.”

René Aguilar

He/Him | Mount Royal United Church, Mount Royal, QC | Nakonhaka 

Co-Chair

René and his husband have been married for eight years and are the proud parents of two young girls.  As a family they have found it hard to find a faith community that would embrace their diverse family, until they joined Mount Royal United Church in January of 2020.  At Mount Royal they found acceptance, but more importantly, a venue to raise their daughters in the principles of their faith and the missions of inclusion, social justice and gratitude.  As a family, they feel blessed to have found an accepting community of faith.

Rene is a Title Attorney licensed to practice law in the Province of Québec, and the co-owner of a boutique law firm specializing in not-for-profit organizations.  He is very familiar with AGM’s, board meetings, preparing agendas, drafting resolutions, keeping corporate records and in general dealing with Corporations Canada and the Registraire Québec. René also serves as the treasurer to his law firm and is familiar with reviewing expenses and dealing with annual financial statements. 

Why does this opportunity interest you?

  • “Being relatively new members to Mount Royal United Church, we are looking for ways to thrive and contribute to the growth of our community.”
  • “To promote greater awareness, within the faith community, of issues and stigma faced by LGBTQ+ families.”

David Hall

He/Him | Silver Spire United Church, St. Catharines, ON | Horseshoe Falls 

Member at Large

David is currently the Interim Director of Music at Silver Spire United Church in St. Catharines, ON and acts as the Chair of the Affirm Committee there.  As the Chair of the Affirm Committee, David guided the church to become an Affirming Ministry.  He attended the Affirm United AGM and Conference in Calgary last year which solidified his belief in the good work Affirm United does across Canada.

David is also excited to witness the ecumenical work being done with the Generous Space Ministries bringing the affirming process to other denominations.  He has watched Generous Space evolve over the last 20 years from a reparative/conversion therapy model to the inclusive affirming model it has become today.

Currently David acts as a facilitator at the St. Catharines Generous Space group which has been running for the last four years.  He also brings with him a background in human resources and various church positions including, minister, moderator, elder, teacher, and worship leader.

Why does this opportunity interest you?

  • “I believe passionately in churches becoming affirming ministries. Having chaired the committee that guided our church to becoming an affirming ministry, I have seen the positive impact and beauty unfolding individually and corporately in our community of faith. Attending, engaging and worshiping at the conference in Calgary in 2019 reinforced my belief in the need and good work of AUSE. I would be honoured to assist the organization as a member at large.”

Rev. Liz Carter-Morgan: Affirming ministries Coordinator (volunteer position), Western Canada: Liz Carter-Morgan was ordained in 2004 and has served in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, in rural, small town and urban settings.  Currently she is in is in ministry with the people of St. Paul’s United Church in Virden, Manitoba where she lives with her wife, Jen, who is a candidate for diaconal ministry serving as a student with the people of Hartney-Lauder. They have twin children, Isaac and Rachel, who are homeschooled , “because we are hippies, not because we are religious”.  Liz and Jen met at the Affirm Conference in 2005, and Liz has been involved in one capacity or another with Affirm throughout most of the time since then, and is currently in her second round of being an Affirming Ministries Coordinator for Western Canada. Liz likes to knit, watch Dr. Who, and play board games.

Rev. Jackie Harper: Affirming ministries Coordinator (volunteer position) for Eastern Canada: Jackie is a recently retired United Church minister who has shared in ministry in small town and outport Newfoundland, rural Eastern Ontario, new church development in Mississauga, as General Council staff for Family and Seniors Ministry, and Program and Youth staff for Bay of Quinte Conference. In the 35 years of active ministry Jackie has been privileged to walk with congregations as they supported the belief that sexual orientation should not be a barrier to ministry leadership in 1988; presenting as part of an interfaith group to the judicial committee on changing marriage policies for Canada; supporting congregations as they worked on Marriage policies in 2006 when same gender marriages became legal; and working with the Affirming ministry Action Group of Bay of Quinte Conference as staff support.  Jackie is deeply committed to creating safer, welcoming, inclusive space for all God’s people.  Jackie has learned to quilt in her retirement and enjoys the play of colours and creating and in her spare time she loves spending time with friends and family, reading and swimming


Eli Munro is our secretary and writes, “My name is Eli Munro and I use they/them pronouns. I grew up in an area near Vancouver, and grew up in the church through summer camps, retreats, counselling opportunities and, of course, potlucks. I’ve been across the country with the church trying to really get to know the ins and outs of the UCC. Being a part of the queer community, I value the work the UCC is doing to reconcile relationships and I can’t wait to be a part of that meaningful work.”


Anne Wood is our Treasurer. Anne lives in Kingston, ON with her partner Ruth.  They attend St. Andrew’s-By-The-Lake United Church.

Anne recently retired from her position as Office Administrator of Princess Street United Church.  In that position her responsibilities included making all non-offering bank deposits, using Simply Accounting to post all transactions, reconciling all accounts monthly and preparing the Financial Reports for the Treasurer to present at Official Board and Congregational Meetings.  She also worked closely with the Chair of the Trustees to track all investments and interest using both Simply Accounting and Microsoft Excel.

Prior to working at Princess Street United Church she worked as the assistant to a Financial Advisor.  In both of these jobs she regularly used Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

From 1984 to 2004 she was an active member of St. Paul’s United Church in Harrowsmith, ON where she sang in the choir, served on Session, and spent one term as Chair of the Church Council.

In her spare time Anne enjoys photography, walking, and spending time with her six young grandchildren.


Staff:

Michele Petick is AU/SE’s Communications and Marketing Coordinator as of May 2020. “I work up to twenty hours a week for Affirm and am honoured to contribute to the movement by helping tell its stories. I love connecting with Affirming ministries and supporters across the country. I’ve been an AU/SE member for about four years; Affirm United was an important resource and encouraging resource while my home church of Leaside United went through the Affirming process and became an Affirming congregation in 2016 and a safer space for queer communities inside and outside of the church building.”

I’m White and identify as a woman. I live with my family and work in Toronto, Ontario, Treaty 13. Pronouns are she/her. Email me anytime at communications@ause.ca

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