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Here's the latest news from Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble.
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In this  February 2019 edition:
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Don't give up pie for Lent!  Affirming PIE Day 14 March: website and video
Sponsoring LGBTQIA refugees: a call from the United Church
Why I’m a member of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble: Rev Emma Pipes
Job postings to share: Iridesce, the Living Apology Project
Minute for Mission February 17: Iridesce, The Living Apology

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Affirming ministries: offering us action, policies, and stories for the journey from St John’s to Edmonton
Welcome to new Affirming ministries! Bridgewater United, NS; Burton Avenue UC in Barrie ON
LGBTQ+ inclusive church launched in Uganda
Recommended resources:
Seven reasons why LGBTQ+ people don’t want to go to your LGBTQ+ inclusive church; Living the Welcoming Congregation resource

 

Don't give up pie for Lent! Announcing Affirming PIE Day 14 March 2019 and our new website and video!
What's PIE? Public+Intentional+Explicit= PIE. These are the standards for a real and radical welcome for LGBTQIA2S+ people in our church. Draw the circle wide and join in! Host a story telling event complete with pie and join many others across the land and the church as we learn together how to offer this welcome. Co-hosted by Affirm United/ S'affirmer Ensemble and Affirming Connections. 

Planning resources, full info, and event sign up and calendar: www.pieday.ca

Remember: Affirming PIE Day is all about you and your stories! Make sure to sign up at https://pieday.ca/events/

Video: Our video to launch PIE Day and to give some tips of what Affirming looks and feel like is coming soon! Our hosts take us through a journey of pie and what PIE (Public, Intentional, and Explicit) can mean for you! Stories from four Affirming ministries will be featured. You will have free access to the video by March 1 and can plan to show it at your PIE event or for any Affirming initiative.



Sponsoring LGBTQIA refugees: a call from the United Church
Many Canadian Christians know that churches are a key part of support and sponsorship for people seeking refuge in Canada. Together, we see this as living out the gospel and prophetic call to seek justice and offer healing. But when we focus on LGBTQIA+ refugees, the picture changes radically. Did you know the United Church of Canada is one of the very few faith based Sponsorship Agreement Holders within Canada’s LGBTQ refugee program? And that there are more LGBTQIA people seeking refuge than there are sponsors?

Here’s where you come in, because you can help change this. Please have a look at the United Church’s excellent new LGBTQIA refugee web resources, dedicated to helping increase the number of ministries who will sponsor LGBTQIA people in need of safety and security. On the AUSE site, we suggest a few steps you can take to get the conversation started.


Why I’m a member of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble: Rev. Emma Pipes
Rev. Emma Pipes is one of AUSE’s awesome national Council members. She serves Knox pastoral charge in Caledon, ON. She’s offered a personal reflection to kick off our series of stories on why people choose to become members of Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble.

Wonder why becoming a member makes a difference? Read more here.  Are you a member who’s happy to tell our wider family why you made that decision? Write to our communications coordinator  at communications@ause.ca and we’ll post your story!


Job postings to share: Iridesce, the Living Apology Project
In July 2019 the United Church of Canada's triennial meeting, General Council, approved the continuation of Iridesce, The Living Apology Project. As part of the continued work of gathering and honouring stories of LGBTQIA+, Two Spirit people, and allies in the United Church, three sets of contracts have been created. These will help Iridesce gather stories from racialized people in particular. Please have a look, and share widely. 
Regional facilitators
National facilitator coach
Researcher



Minute for Mission February 17: Iridesce, The Living Apology
You are invited to share about the work and ministry of Iridesce: The Living Apology Project by using their Minute for Mission at your place of worship this February 17th.
We are so grateful to be included in this year's "Loving Our Neighbours" booklet from Mission & Service of The United Church of Canada. The booklet outlines the many diverse ministries funded by M&S.

Download the Iridesce Minute for Mission here:  https://www.iridesce.ca/resources
Iridesce is collecting stories of our diverse experience of our 1988 vote not to bar gay and lesbian people from membership and ministry. To share your experience and to learn more, please visit www.iridesce.ca

Thank you for continuing to give generously to Mission & Service!


Affirming ministries: offering us action, policies, and stories for the journey
The Affirming journey begins long before the public celebration that marks the end of the formal Affirming process. Here are two very different examples of the kinds of stories and outcomes that are so often a part of the Affirming process.
Newfoundland:  This is a personal story from Larry Kelly, a gay member of Gower St United Church in St John’s NL. Gower Street voted to become Affirming January 27, 2019, and will become the first Affirming ministry on the island of Newfoundland! Thank you, Larry, for your courageous public witness. 

Ontario: The second is proof that policy is not only exciting (okay, for some of us) but crucial. This is the inclusive marriage policy for Trinity United Church in Cannington ON. It’s expansive, welcoming, and clear. It’s been approved, so please feel free to download and share.

PIE Day (see article above) is about work new and renewed. Here are two stories from Affirming ministries that have offered recent Public, Intentional, or Explicit witness: 

Alberta: On January 8, an Edmonton media report noted “Homophobic posters are making the rounds yet again in an Edmonton neighbourhood, prompting a local church to come together and spread a counter message of love and acceptance.” St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church led the community effort to counter-post with affirming messages. Many thanks to members of McDougall United Church and other ministries for supporting Rev Mark Chiang and our Presbyterian kin.

Ontario: Christmas 2018 has faded into the sunset, but here’s a story that just missed our last newsletter. New Vision United Church in Hamilton ON and their minister Rev Dr Ian Sloan offered a reflection on the nature of their jazz vespers service and the welcome that is still absent for many LGBTQIA people during the holiday season. Does this reflection resonate with your ministry team? What would a creative welcome look like in your context?


Welcome to new Affirming ministries!
Our first two new ministries of 2019 are Bridgewater United Church, Nova Scotia and Burton Ave United Church in Barrie ON. Welcome, friends! Thank you for your commitment and your public affirmation of love and justice. We include just a few of your photos here.  (Right: Photographer Leslie Whidden from  Burton Ave United Church writes, "This group was our speakers for the service.  They spoke about their reasons for wanting our church to be an Affirming Church. Wonderful speakers all with awesome personal stories! From left to right - Ken Down - Member of our Life Long Learning Committee, our newly Retired Minister - Rev. Patricia Gale-MacDonald; Islay Scott - Chair of our Ministry & Personnel Committee; Angela Kerr - Chair of our Affirm Committee.)

Coming up between March and May, with more details to follow: Riverbend United Church, Edmonton; St Andrew's United Church in Mission BC; Eglinton-St George's United Church, Toronto. Remember, you're encouraged to send a brief message of welcome to these new ministries; use our secure form here

LGBTQ inclusive church launched in Uganda
Respect and love to courageous Ugandan kin who, in defiance of state and church-sponsored transphobia and homophobia, have created this sacred space. Please note: Kuchu Times, which ran this story, is an African LGBTQIA news source led by Africans from many nations. Please follow it as you can. 

(Right: Bridgewater United Church in Nova Scotia celebrates with their Affirming certificate, 27 January 2019)


Recommended resources
Remember: you can read, share, and print all PDF back issues of this newsletter right here. We have a resources section in almost every edition, and those resources rarely go out of date. 

As mentioned above: Trinity United Church’s inclusive marriage policy is one great example (of many) of how to meet this very important requirement of becoming an Affirming ministry. Please have a look.

A difficult and important reflection: Seven reasons why LGBTQ+ people don’t want to go to your LGBTQ+ inclusive church
This may seem a counterproductive thing to include in this newsletter, since one of the biggest challenges facing our movement is the widespread belief that the entire United Church is already Affirming-- so why go through an Affirming process?

But even with that said, or especially with that said… every Affirming ministry and ministry in process or considering it: please read this reflection together. Even and especially if makes you uncomfortable because it’s a bit too true. Let yourselves feel it. And ask how you can continue your good,  vital, beautiful work of transformation- because you are doing the good and hard work of transformation. This article is food for thought on how we can do more, and how we can take true inclusivity out of our buildings to our community and its streets and its services. (Right: Burton Avenue United Church taking a bold step at its Affirming celebration, 27 January 2019.)

Keeping Affirming real- A Unitarian Universalist resource is here to help
One of the hardest things about being Affirming is keeping the journey moving.  Once you celebrate, and a few years have passed… and the original people move on… and energy drops… then what? How do we keep our work renewed and Spirit-ed? Have a look at this comprehensive gift of a resource from our Unitarian kin and see what it sparks for your ministry.
 
 
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