Reflection from Emily Simpson, co-chair of CMUC’s process to become an Affirming Congregation:
“It’s been 6 months since CMUC started the Affirming process so Toni and I wanted to offer a brief reflection on that time. Through the kick-off event, conversation circles, film night, monthly Affirm table, testimonies, sermons, Shower of Stoles exhibit, and Fireside chat– we have seen people begin to realize the difference between welcoming and Affirming. We have learned more about the implicit and explicit privileges of being heterosexual and/or cis-gender in both church and society. This process has created space for people to tell their own stories, or stories of family and friends that have impacted them, around sexual orientation and/or gender identity, where before there was silence. We have met new people who shared that hearing about the Affirm process made them feel CMUC was a safe place to come worship.
“We have also heard concern about how to encourage more people to engage in the process and whether everyone finds it welcoming. We have heard fear around what happens if the vote is not unanimous – how do we continue together? We have heard curiosity about what will change if we become Affirming. We have been asked “Why this particular issue? Is it more important than any other?” This process is not saying that seeking justice and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community is more important than any other work – all justice seeking work is important. This is simply what we are focused on right now; it does not and will not make us a single issue church. For anyone who has this concern, we’d like to ask you to consider if you would feel the same way if we spent a year focused on Reconciliation, sexism, racism, or ableism. For many churches, the Affirm process has been a catalyst for further education around and intentional inclusion of other marginalized groups.
“As we move forward into the next 6 months, we are seeking to respond to what we’ve heard. To address the desire for education on terminology and the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity, we’ve planned a workshop with Anna White that’s happening February 25th. We’ll have another film event in March. For those with questions about what would change if we became affirming –take a look at videos by Hillhurst United and Riverside United on our Affirm webpage, the Open Hearts document from Affirm United, or talk to Toni or myself. In April, there will be a workshop to craft language for our mission statement that explicitly includes LGBTQ+ folk and an action plan for future ways of developing ourselves as an Affirming congregation. The last step is the congregational vote in June where the draft mission statement and action plan will be presented for approval. We want all of you to feel that you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about LGBTQ+ justice issues, reflect on the reasons for this process and its possibilities for our future, so we encourage you to join us at these upcoming events. Finally, we want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who have helped make this process possible and everyone who has participated so far.”
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