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Bienvenue au bolletin S’affirmer Ensemble, février 2018.
Welcome to the Affirm United newsletter, February 2018!

Join us in Toronto July 13-15 2018 for our annual conference!
Nous vous invitons à vous joindre à la Conférence annuelle S'affirmer Ensemble du 13 au 15 juillet 2018, Toronto

Resources for the new Affirming year: infographic; hymn; Iridesce stories
Irisation : faire briller les excuses parmi nous-- vidéo et site web
More resources from other excellent groups: Review your own website; new short film on LGBTQIA+ elders; language and editing guide; Jewish perspectives
LGBTQIA+ global news: Intersectionality reflection; news from the Americas

Welcome to new Affirming ministries!
Affirming ministries doing their thang: Robert McClure United Affirming Advent; Peterborough and Ottawa film fests; Toronto Conference resource page; Knox-Met United Regina in the news; London Conference supports LGBTQ focused musical.
Poem: You are not affirming our existence (excerpt)
 “…You’re not being asked to affirm our existence.
Instead, you are being asked – right now, today – whether YOU personally believe that ours is a God of love and
Whether your version of Christian hospitality means welcoming everyone.
And really meaning it.
It’s about taking into your heart Jesus’ command to unconditionally love your neighbour as yourself.
It really is that simple.
The Affirming process helps a congregation to truly see how wide is their circle of love and inclusion.”
By Joy Cowan.
Posted at 
Planning for Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble's 2018 conference is underway, thanks to these fine people. Lisez ce bolletin pour des infos plus amples! 
Join us in Toronto July 13-15 2018 for our annual conference!
Nous vous invitons à vous joindre à la Conférence annuelle S'affirmer Ensemble du 13 au 15 juillet 2018, Toronto

Nous vous invitons à la Conférence annuelle S'affirmer Ensemble/ Affirm United
à l’Église unie Royal York Road United Church, Toronto. Dates à retenir : du 13 au 15 juillet 2018.

We're delighted to announce that Royal York Road United Church will host the 2018 Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble annual conference in Toronto, July 13-15 2018. We'll gather on Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, and Anishinabek Territories and we look forward to creating a safer space and a deeply inclusive welcome. 

Joignez-vous à nous pour notre conférence annuelle : communauté, culte, formation, discussion, repas et, qui sait, probablement aussi films et danse! Toutes les identités sont les bienvenues. Nous publierons ici les liens au formulaire d’inscription et au programme de la conférence lorsqu’ils seront prêts. Pour le moment, notez les dates afin de vous joindre à Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble et à nos hôtes et coorganisateurs, la Royal York Road United Church et le Synode de Toronto.

Veuillez partager librement l'invitation en PDF et JPG! Please share the invitation in PDF and JPG widely- all welcome! 

This weekend falls before the 43rd meeting of General Council and its Festival of Faith in Oshawa, about an hour east.  If you're travelling to General Council, come early and join us. Or, stay on after for the Skylight Festival July 27-29 at Five Oaks near Paris ON. 
AUSE also thanks Toronto Conference of the United Church for its generous contribution to staff support for this gathering. We're deeply grateful to Affirming ministries like Royal York Road and Toronto Conference, and we hope our time together will be a chance for all to experience and learn from Affirming ministries across the land. As always, people of all identities are welcome, and we're in an accessible space with public transit at the door. 

Visitez pour plus de détails et vous inscrire. Please watch for registration and details.

Resources for the new Affirming year: infographic; hymn; nouveaux ressources du projet Irisation
The Affirming process in seven steps: an infographic
We boiled the formal Affirming journey down to seven steps (the many steps that follow from being Affirming are then up to the creative powers of your ministry.) Use this new resource freely, widely, and with abandon. Put it on your Twitter feed, on Instagram, in your PowerPoint, on your dog, your fridge, and your forehead.
The infographic is available as two separate JPG (online photo) files, as a PDF bulletin insert, and an 8.5 by 11” PDF poster.  Find them all right here.
Hymn: We are a Rainbow
We heart hymn writer and musical genius David Kai! He has written a wonderfully affirming hymn, We Are a Rainbow, and made it freely available.  Download various PDFs here, and click here for a video of the tune and lyrics here. Thank you and bless you, David, for this lovely, generous gift.
Iridesce/ Irisation, the Living Apology project
Exciting news in English et des bonnes nouvelles en français!  
Many new stories have been posted at Please take time to read and hear them.
Workshops are underway all over the country! Check Facebook for a complete list, and consider hosting one:
Irisation : faire briller les excuses parmi nous, vidéo et site web :  
Message de la modératrice Jordan Cantwell sur Irisation: La modératrice Jordan Cantwell invite toutes les personnes touchées par la décision rendue en 1988 par l’Église Unie du Canada à témoigner de leur vécu, peu importe la façon dont elles s’identifient – comme hétérosexuelles, lesbiennes, gais, bisexuelles, transgenres, altersexuelles, berdaches ou autre. Pour de plus amples renseignements, communiquez avec la coordonnatrice du projet à
Au 42e Conseil général, l'Église a voté en faveur de la mise sur pied d'un projet pancanadien qui permettrait aux personnes touchées par la décision qu'elle a prise en 1988 de témoigner de leur vécu et de participer à un dialogue. Ces témoignages aideraient l'Église à discerner s'il y a lieu de présenter des excuses à sa communauté LGBTQ et berdache, et si tel est le cas, d'établir une manière de le faire. Vous êtes invités à nous faire part de votre vécu et à participer à la discussion :

Yet more resources: review your website; new short film on LGBTQIA+ elders; language and editing guide; Jewish perspectives
How affirming is your church? New US website reviews for you
An American group, Church Clarity, has swiped an Affirm United idea: review your ministry’s website and social media with an eye to what message you are (and are not) sending.
This is an excellent and much needed resource. Often there’s a very wide gap between what we think we’re communicating and what we’re actually showing or telling. That’s why the Affirming process is so crucial: without intentional, explicit work on being truly affirming and welcoming of LGBTQIA+ communities, your ministry’s welcome is likely to be invisible or inauthentic. Why is this a problem? Let this excellent article on the project explain why.
While we can’t guarantee they’ll review Canadian ministries, why not submit a form and find out how your ministry fares? We encourage Affirming ministries to do this too—there’s always more to learn about expressing our welcome.
Have a look:
New Canadian short film: Older Than What?
This new 13 minute film addresses aging, ageism and LGBTQ identity. Aging has a tendency to fade people out of the picture. Older Than What? brings elders sharply back into focus with humour, frankness, wit and charm. 12 seniors respond to 10 questions about aging, and share stories about how they made history.

Fees: For single screenings or on DVD for multiple uses. $85 single screening fee; $325 DVD purchase (subject to negotiation). Contact: CFMDC at or Steen Starr at View the trailer here:
Language can heal and hurt: editing resource
This guide, and this whole site, come highly recommended. Even reading the intro is a revelation. “The purpose of this guide is to help people of all gender identities and experiences practice more care toward those on the margins. Trans people must be understood as the authorities on ourselves and the language used to describe us. Not only does this mean that cisgender (non-trans) people need to practice humility and care toward trans people, but it also means that trans people—particularly those with educational, financial, and/or racial privilege—need to practice humility and care toward other trans people—particularly those who are folks of color, low-income, less educated, and/or elders.” If you write, edit, preach, speak, or work on social media, have a close read.
Further to language: have a look at this article (which challenges another article) for some insight into Jewish perspectives on LGBTQness.
LGBTQIA+ global news
Intersectionality reflection: Coming together with an open heart
Bill Fairbairn is gay, and a long time Latin America human rights advocate and accompanier. He holds these two identities side by side for a reason. He writes, “Time and time again, I’ve seen how every struggle is strengthened when people come together with an open heart, to listen and learn from one another. This includes recognizing and acknowledging the privileges we have and the different layers of oppression that can impact marginalized people in distinct ways.” Read on for more of his story.
Other stories from the Americas: Bill’s work focuses on the Americas, where numerous struggles for trans and queer justice continue. In Trinidad and Tobago, the struggle for dignity and rights carries on far from most headlines. And in more positive news, BBC News reports that “The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriages should be recognised. The court's rulings apply to countries which have signed the American Convention on Human Rights. Some of the signatories already recognise same-sex marriages while others recognise same-sex civil unions. But others, such as Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru do not recognise either and will be expected to change their laws.”
Welcome to new Affirming ministries
Our record breaking 2017 total for new Affirming ministries: 35! Our first celebration of 2018 is yet to come; when it does it will be our 200th ministry. Deep thanks to the effort, prayers, energy, and love behind this simple number. (Above: Manitou Conference became Affirming in November; here they are after their vote at their annual meeting.) 

A reminder of the fine ministries who closed out the last part of 2017 with their celebrations: 
Emmanuel United Church, Odessa, ON
Fort Garry United Church, Winnipeg, MB
Gaetz Memorial United Church, Red Deer, AB
Port Carling United Church, Port Carling, ON
Bala United Church, Bala, ON
Affirming ministries doing their thang: here’s our usual round up of excellent work across the land. Got a story? Get thee to a device and email so we can talk you up.
Robert McClure United Church Affirming Advent; Peterborough and Ottawa film fests; Knox-Met United Regina in the news; London Conference speaks out; Toronto Conference resource page
As we edge towards spring, we want to look back on Advent, and share an Advent candle lighting liturgy from Robert McClure United Church in Calgary, who celebrated their first Advent as an official Affirming ministry. (Enjoy their Advent altar, above.)

Affirm United, Peterborough, is a screening sponsor for the short documentary, Older Than What? at the ReFrame Film Festival. The film profiles LGBTQ seniors as well as general issues of aging and ageism, and will be followed by a Q&A and discussion. Have a look at the Facebook event. (See article above for details on the film.) 
Emmanuel United Church in Ottawa is also using the winter weather to launch an LGBTQ film series that will continue through May. Our communities have a long history of telling stories of fact and fiction and history through film; consider organizing your own film series or festival.
Toronto Conference became Affirming last May. They’ve been revamping their website, which includes an excellent Affirming resource page. Have a look!
It’s not easy to describe the Affirming journey briefly, accurately, and eloquently. Thank you to Knox-Metropolitan United Church (Regina SK) and minister Cam Fraser, member Monique Poisson-Fast, and journalist Arthur White-Crummey for doing just that in a January 19 article and video about this Regina SK congregation.
“Knox-Metropolitan has begun a process to become an affirming ministry. If all goes according to plan, they’ll join three other United Churches in Regina that hold the designation. It means they’ll make a formal declaration, saying they welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
AUSE just can’t summarize it better than this, so if you’ve ever wondered about becoming Affirming, or what difference it makes, read this, and then read the whole thing:
 “… it means they’ll celebrate LGBTQ people for who they are – because of, not despite, their sexuality. “We are affirming the image of God within people,” Fraser said.
He said it’s important to make that position clear. After millennia of anti-gay tendencies in Christianity, he doesn’t want people to wonder how they’ll be treated inside his church.
“I think it’s unfair for them to make that vulnerable first step of coming into a place that has historically stood for condemnation of who they are,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s important to have that overt welcome.”
London Conference of the United Church is in the Affirming process. Along with the rest of the community, they faced some decisions when both the Roman Catholic and public school boards pulled funding for a local theatre production of a musical about a young man’s attempt to bring his male date to a Catholic high school’s prom—something that happened a few years back in another part of Ontario.  Eventually the public board changed its mind, citing “a mistake”.
London Conference writes, “Today’s headline is the withdrawal of funding from The Grand Theatre's The High School Project by both the Separate and English Public School Boards for Prom Queen: The Musical. This is a dramatic portrayal of the struggle of a teenager to bring a same sex date to the Prom at an Ontario Catholic high school, a news story many of us likely remember. Because this is an important issue, we have donated $1,000 to the Go Fund Me campaign in the name of The United Church of Canada, London Conference to support the continuing conversation of inclusion and diversity.
I realize we are in the midst of the Affirming process without having determined our status yet but I am completely confident that no one in our church will be surprised by our support and several within our church might be hurt if we were silent. Even more importantly, so many others might not know what we believe if we do not voice our support at this moment.
#TheLouderWeGet #loveislove #UCCan #AffirmUnited” 

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