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 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.