Sherwood Park United Church Affirming Celebration Weekend

What a celebration it was Saturday, April 14th & Sunday, April 15th 2018! The sanctuary was a rainbow of colors with a beautiful rainbow banner leading up to the altar. The Fellowship Hall was bedecked in rainbow tissue flowers and the congregation was invited to add rainbow stickers to their name tags. The Affirm United banner stood front and center for all to see.

Saturday night kicked off the celebration with a chili supper followed by a screening of the Camp fYrefly documentary, “Over the Rainbow.” This documentary raises awareness about the complex needs and concerns of LGBTQ youth. The positive impact on the youth who attended Camp fYrefly was dramatically portrayed. Guests Carmen Gerrard, her daughter Marissa, Michael the director and Bryan Mortensen (Institute of MinorityStudies and Services) were available to answer questions afterwards. This event was well attended and capped a yearlong educational journey for the congregation in our Affirming process.

Our Sunday Celebration service featured Carmen, who described her journey as the parent of a child who knew very early that she was a girl in a boy’s body. The ups and downs of her journey and her daughter’s journey to become her true self were a powerful and emotional message. Marissa was our guest soloist who delivered a joyful message with two solos, “God Don’t Make No Trash” and “Over the Rainbow.”

Reverend Terrie thanked our guest speakers who joined us in our celebration and had offered their encouragement, support and wisdom as we moved through our Affirming process.

Reverend Stuart Jackson, Chair of Edmonton Presbytery, reminded us that our affirming journey was just beginning, before presenting the Affirming Ministry certificate to our Affirming Ministry liaison representative, Mary Card.

Mary thanked the Affirming Working Group (Louise Rogers, Ruth West, Sheila Cline, Lorraine Krauss, Karen Spiess, Alice Walker and Pat Bourque), the ministers, Rev. Terrie Jackson and Rev. Kurt Katzmar and the congregation for working together to make this Affirming process successful. We also wish to thank Linda Hutchinson from Affirm United for her guidance and support.

Generous donations were made at both weekend celebrations to support Camp fYrefly as part of United Church camping. A total of $1886.10 was received.

We are honored to be the 200th United Church in Canada to become an Affirming Ministry and the first church in Strathcona County to be publically visible and welcoming to the LGBTQS2 community.