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Welcome to the June 2018 national newsletter of Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble. In this summer edition:
Annual conference, Toronto: register by June 30!
SpiritPride and Skylight events

AUSE and Iridesce at the Festival of Faith and General Council: display, workshops, play and national viewing
Pride season: Worship resources, Mandate magazine LGBTQIA edition; photos; display resources
Welcome to eleven new Affirming ministries!
Affirming ministries taking action: blocking a hate group at Prides; supporting inclusive camping policy; responding to drive by homophobia; supporting GSAs
"It is never easy to tear down walls and to build bridges of understanding.
Yet, Jesus’ command that we love one another as he loved us, echoes in our hearts.
It is a call to reconciliation that all may be one,
    that we are celebrated for our deepest selves,
    that we are affirmed into the challenging work of wholeness.
It is our collective call as those who follow the Way of Jesus to find a place for all at the table."

 -Communion liturgy, Hamilton Conference's Affirming celebration, 25 May 2018.  Written by Gord Dunbar. 
Last call: annual conference in Toronto: June 30 deadline
Friends, we close registration for our 2018 annual conference on June 30! Please help us spread the word one last time. Join us July 13-15 at our lovely host, Royal York Road United Church in Toronto, on Dish with One Spoon Treaty territory. Register here.
The planning committee has been labouring over a hot workshop list, confirming amazing speakers, and planning a public worship at Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. From stained glass creations to allyship with LGBTQIA youth, from supporting LGBTQIA asylum seekers to becoming Affirming in your context, we’ll have it all.

Subsidies and billets available. Allies and all identities welcome and needed. Bring your good energy, ideas, and spirit to our growing nationwide movement. Be inspired, and help Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble continue to grow and transform. We thank the planning committee, Royal York Road United Church, and Toronto Conference, for all your hard and creative work, and we look forward to being with you. Here’s that registration link again!


SpiritPride and Skylight, two events July 27-19: Prefer a great Western option? Check out Spirit Pride , July 27-29 at St Andrew’s Wesley United Church in Vancouver, an LGBTQIA+ led and focused interfaith gathering that AUSE was honoured to share in last year.  Prefer central/ east? Go to the Skylight Festival near Brantford ON July 27-29 for music, arts, and spirit-inspiring resource people.

Pride season: Worship resources, Mandate magazine LGBTQIA edition, and photos
June is celebrated as Pride Month in many communities in Canada, but Pride festivals take place right through September. Three new worship resources are available under Downloads on the national United Church’s worship page.
  • In Your Expanding Love: A Pride Celebration Sunday Service
  • Prayer of Great Thanksgiving, for Gay Pride Week
  • A Pride Litany, which goes through the colours of the rainbow
Mandate magazine LGBTQIA+ edition: Where is The United Church of Canada on its Affirming journey?Front cover of Mandate magazine: churches' big red double decker Pride bus, with the title: The Affirming Journey. The United Church’s Mandate magazine for spring and summer 2018 focuses on LGBTIQ2S+ justice. Included are valuable resources for all ministries, from worship to workshops, on moving toward spiritual affirmation, healing, and renewal for all. Here’s their homepage; they had not updated their page as of our deadline but it should be done soon. You’ll be able to order both PDF and print editions. Buy extra as birthday gifts! They’ll have print copies at our annual conference in Toronto, and at General Council.

Pride photos and displays: Our network has been busy! From May to September, many United Church ministries and members of all kinds come out for Pride, whether on floats, at worship, in workshops, or as supports for LGBTQIA+ communities. The church has a lot to atone for in our past and present; our supportive presence (and inspired dancing) are an important commitment. Have a look at our A group of people with rainbow painted faces laughing and standing around a banner saying "Knox United Church".work in progress photo album for Pride 2018.

 Is your ministry planning a proudly public presence at Pride?  Consider using some of these handouts from AUSE, posted in a shared folder on Dropbox. (you don’t need a membership to access these.) Send the communications team a copy of your own handouts AND some photos of your beautiful selves. (Right: Knox United Church at Brandon MB Pride.)

AUSE and Iridesce at the Festival of Faith and General Council: display, workshops, play and national viewing
This summer, the United Church’s national decision-making body, General Council, will gather in Oshawa ON. Come visit both Iridesce and AUSE at the pre-General Council Festival of Faith, where we’ll have workshops to enjoy! Iridesce, The Living Apology Project, will have a featured art display of its national work and stories. On Monday July 23, Iridesce will present a Living Apology play that will be livestreamed on the General Council feed. Watch the GC43 website for more info and get the popcorn ready. Why not hold a group viewing?

Welcome to new Affirming ministries!Six people at the front of a church, speaking, with a big rainbow banner made of seven long strips of cloth flowing over the altar and steps.
We’ve been busy welcoming new family members. Since you last read this newsletter, eleven new ministries have posted their action plans and held their public celebrations- the last steps in their official “becoming Affirming” journey. Welcome, friends!
Hamilton Conference
London Conference
Cariboo Presbytery, BC Conference
Lakeview United Church, Calgary AB
Islington United Church, Toronto ON
Avondale United Church, Stratford ON (check out Avondale’s media coverage here!)
Calvary United Church, Prince Albert SK (check out their front page media story here!)
Trinity United Church, Gravenhurst ON
Faith United Church, Courtice ON
Bradford United Church, Bradford ON (media coverage here!)
Bracebridge United Church, Bracebridge ON

(Photos: Lakeview United Church's Affiirming celebration; Faith United in Courtice ON cutting the cake!)

Affirming ministries taking action: blocking a hate group; supporting inclusive camping policy; responding to drive by homophobia; supporting GSAs

It’s been a busy month for our movement (and you can see some of it in photos in our Pride album.)
First, deep thanks to those who have responded to a so-called Christian hate group which has been disrupting Pride celebrations in Southern Ontario. Dunnville, Barrie, Hamilton, and the Anime North festival in Toronto have all been targeted by a group that mimics Westboro Baptist church and appears to be led primarily by Americans.A big cloth banner held by two people, blocking hateful signs behind. It says: Hate is easy, love take courage. "Courage" is in rainbow letters.

Allies, LGBTQIA+ people, and Affirming and welcoming ministries and organizations rallied to ensure a strong presence at these Pride events, using banners and kazoos to block the hate group. AUSE sends love to community members who struggled with this hateful presence, and to all who organized a response and created space to talk.

Trinity-Clifton United Church, Charlottetown PEI, wrote a letter to the editor supporting a recent school board decision to not send children to outdoor camps if those camps won’t accept LGBTQIA kids or staff.

Grosvenor Park United Church in Saskatoon dealt with a homophobic letter directly and graciously. Read it here.

 The Gay Straight Alliance from Gravenhurst High School hosted a coffee house/parent information night; over 100 people came, and Bala and Port Carling United Churches, were invited to come. They did, sharing in a handful of booths that offered support and information at the coffee house intermission. Media story here.

Sackville United Church, New Brunswick, recently voted to become Affirming. Have a look at their excellent example of an Affirming motion for a congregational vote.  Their float also won a prize at the Cumberland Pride parade. (Photo at right.)

Calgary Affirming ministries at the Iridesce: Living Apology workshop.
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