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Here's the latest news from Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble.
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In this March-April 2019 edition:
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Affirming News:
AUSE annual conference July 26-28 2019 in Calgary
AUSE Exec member Rev Cindy Bourgeois to receive award
First ever Affirming PIE Day done! Video reminder, evaluation, and more
Special PIE Day contribution: It Made a Difference project
June 2, 2019:  Pride Sunday for the United Church of Canada!
Affirming ministry reports: due end of May
What’s next for the Living Apology Project?
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Welcome to New Affirming Ministries!
St Paul’s United Church, Perth ON; Riverbend United Church, Edmonton AB; St Andrew’s United Church, Mission BC
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Resources and action:
National webinar recording and conversation:
Becoming an Affirming Seniors' Facility
Being Affirming= accessibility for all
Trans and queer kin in the DR Congo violently targeted
by a Christian group
Health Canada refuses to ban conversion therapy
United Methodist Church: struggle against equal marriage
and LGBTQIA clergy ban continues
But in better news: Canadian government announces global LGBTQIA+ rights funding

 
“…Just as we engage in the spiritual practices of prayer, and of lighting the Christ candle every time as we ready ourselves for worship, the spiritual practice of the Indigenous lands acknowledgement and the explicitly Affirming welcome to those who are LGBTQIA+, helps us to remind ourselves that the unconditional love taught by Christ empowers us to extend that love to all.” Christine Dolson, speaking at Kamloops United Church’s PIE Day.
Affirming News...

AUSE annual conference July 26-28 2019 in Calgary
Our 2019 annual conference will be hosted by Hillhurst United Church in Calgary, July 26-28.AUSE Council expresses gratitude and excitement at this chance to work alongside Hillhurst and other Affirming ministries in the Calgary area, who work together through Affirming Connections. We look forward to a time of learning, visioning, and being together. Please watch our event page for details and registration.

AUSE Exec member Rev Cindy Bourgeois to receive award
Congratulations, Cindy! The Senate of the United Theological College / Le Séminaire Uni in Montreal has announced that Rev. Cindy M. Bourgeois of Regina, SK will receive the Craig Chaplin Award for outstanding contributions made by a person from the LGBTQ2 community at their Convocation, May 8, 2019.

"Rev. Bourgeois is the first openly transgender person to be ordained in the United Church of Canada, and the second in any mainstream denomination of North America.  She is the minister at Wesley United Church in Regina, Saskatchewan, and serves as the Secretary on the Executive of Affirm United.  Bourgeois draws on her lived experience to mentor trans theological students and to speak to wider audiences about the trans community.

In selecting Rev. Bourgeois for this honour, the Senate cited not only her courage and integrity, not only her solidarity with those who are poor and marginalized, but also and especially her importance as a role model to our students who are learning to minister with authenticity and compassion."

First ever Affirming PIE Day done! Video reminder, evaluation, and more
We had a grand time on and around March 14! 53 events (and those are the ones we knew about). At least one media story, from Comox United Church on Vancouver Island (know of others? Tell us!). Check out this Kamloops United Church PIE reflection and photos. Here's our national Facebook album of all you lovely people.
And again, send your own photos and creations: communications@ause.ca

On PIE Day, we also launched the new PIE video, available for free download here. It’s 15 minutes long, and designed for year round use in our ministries and communities. It’s the result of your donations and support, and the United Church’s Gifts with Vision fund. Some of you have asked about the hosts and who they are, so check out our new bios post on Stephane Youdom, Pam Rocker, and the five Affirming ministries whose video stories feature in the video.

Evaluation: If you were involved in any way, we welcome your evaluations. Help AUSE and Affirming Connections learn from this event-
and maybe even shape another event series for 2020. Here’s the link!

Special PIE Day contribution: It Made a Difference project
A special word of thanks to Toronto Urban Native Ministries, which created a PIE Day project called It Made a Difference. They write, “At some point in our lives as 2LGBTTIQPNB folks there was someone who made a difference in our lives. Help us celebrate those stories!” Have a look at their Facebook page and consider adding a story, no matter how short. (That's TUMN's Rev Evan Noodin Smith at the top left of the collage below, having been visited by the PIE fairy, Susie Henderson, bottom right.)


June 2, 2019:  Pride Sunday for the United Church of Canada!
The first ever Pride Sunday in the United Church of Canada takes place June 2. Approved at the 2018 General Council (national governing body), this is a spiritual, theological and liturgical space to celebrate the contributions of LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people to the church. Save the date! Click here for resources, and consider submitting your own.   

Affirming ministry reports: due end of May
The most excellent Jordan Sullivan is AUSE’s staff liaison with the United Church, and we have constant reason to appreciate his many gifts. Jordan gathers annual reports from Affirming ministries, which are an important way for AUSE and the United Church to learn what’s going well, and what supports are needed. Your photos and stories are important resources for our website and social media. So please accept his reminder to get your reports in. Jordan can be reached at jsullivan@united-church.ca

What’s next for the Living Apology Project?
Iridesce is the national Living Apology project shared by the United Church of Canada and Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble. They’re re-launching for 2019 and 2020, making plans where “we’ll look back on our year and reflect on why it is important to continue the work of Iridesce. We’ll outline our new focuses for Iridesce 2.0, including a new invitation to support Regional Councils in their Interm Affirming Ministry work. Finally, we’ll outline how communities of faith in your Region can be involved in this project of our Church.”  Read and share the full details in this document, and have a look at the many stories and resources at www.iridesce.ca


Welcome to new Affirming ministries!
Three ministries have formally joined the Affirming movement since our last newsletter! (Their photos will arrive eventually, then you can see them in all their glory.)
 
Welcome and warm thanks to: 

St Paul’s United Church, Perth ON (Read about their celebration here: Perth’s St. Paul’s United Church becomes an ‘affirm’ church, opening doors to LGBT faithful.)

Riverbend United Church, Edmonton AB

St Andrew’s United Church, Mission BC

As we head into spring, we’re looking forward to at least ten more celebrations. Wherever you are on the journey: thank you for being on it.  Remember to join our Facebook group or like our Facebook page to get notices of opportunities to send welcome letters to ministries preparing to hold their Affirming celebrations. See the entire list here!  (Above: Rideau Park United Church, Ottawa, PIEing on PIE Day.)


Action and resources: Some great resources- and some news of serious struggles

National webinar recording and conversation: Becoming an Affirming Seniors' Facility

Two years ago, Ashbourne, a Seniors’ Facility in Edmonton AB, became an Affirming Ministry. They decided that individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities would be welcome as staff or residents in this facility, and they published the decision far and wide.

Congrats and thanks to Join Laurie Winder, Executive Director of The Ashbourne in Edmonton AB and Linda Hutchinson, Affirming Ministry coordinator (East) with Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble, as they recently took part in a national webinar discussing the journey of The Ashbourne to become an Affirming Ministry. We’ll post the recording as soon as it’s available from United in Learning.

We live in a society where the aging population is growing. The facilities that provide care – nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, even seniors apartments – face new challenges. Senior and their families want to live where they feel welcome, accepted and safe. What does that space look like? What can we as an Affirming movement contribute to our elders and their wellbeing?

On June 28, 2018 a Special Report on CBC Television's The National highlighted the importance of providing care to seniors in the LGBTQ community. Click here to read what they wrote, and to view the 7 minute documentary they aired, entitled 'We're going back into the closet': LGBTQ seniors wary of being 'out' in long-term care facilities

Being Affirming: accessibility for all
The Affirming process can and should be used to look at all aspects of radical inclusion, within the ministry and within the community. Here’s a challenging reflection from Unitarian kin on a common problem in our ministries: the belief that using a microphone is optional. What are we saying when we claim we don’t need a mic?
(Above: Members of United Guys at St Peter's United Church in Sudbury ON, with a new sign designed to meet the PIE communications standard: Public, Intentional, Explicit.) 

Trans and queer kin in the DR Congo violently targeted by a Christian group
Our kin in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo endured some terrifying threats and violence last month. Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko is one of the only LGBTQIA advocate and support groups in the DRC. Their volunteers were among the community members targeted by a violently transphobic and homophobic Christian group. All had to run for their lives.

One of those forced to flee is an active member of our Facebook group. If you would like to send messages of support, please post the messages in our Facebook group or send them through the communications coordinator at communications@ause.ca If you are interested in donating, we can also make inquiries. A reminder, too, that sometimes the situation is too dangerous to allow people to stay in their home community or country. This is why LGBTQIA refugee sponsorship through the United Church is so important.
(Below: some courageous members of Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko.)


Health Canada refuses to ban "conversion therapy"
Saskatoon MP Sheri Benson had sponsored a national petition asking Health Canada to ban conversion therapy. The federal government has now said no to this, citing provincial and territorial jurisdiction. This is very troubling, and leaves all of us to advocate with those levels of government. This CBC article gives a summary and brief overview of existing provincial policies.  Please consider how you can connect with Affirming ministries and other allies to press your province or territory to ban conversion therapy.

United Methodist Church: struggle against equal marriage and LGBTQIA clergy ban continues
Many have been angered and harmed by the United Methodist Church’s recent global decision to continue and reinforce their bans on LGBTQIA+ clergy and equal marriage. This report from the United States covers some of the fallout. People interested in supporting our affirming equivalent, Reconciling Ministries, should have a look at their very active Facebook page or website.

But in better news... Canadian government announces global LGBTQIA+ rights funding
In February the government announced “$30 million in dedicated funding over five years, followed by $10 million per year to advance human rights and improve socio-economic outcomes for LGBTQ2 people in developing countries… This new investment will support Canadian LGBTQ2 and intersex organizations in their efforts to collaborate with partners in developing countries. It will also serve to support local and regional organizations and equality movements in developing countries, as well as partnerships and multilateral initiatives that contribute to policy, advocacy and research efforts in this area.”
 

 
Thank you to artist Naked Pastor.
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