The Affirming Ministries Program is a network of United Church of Canada congregations and ministries that declare themselves to be fully inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. They work to end discrimination against LGBTQ people both within the church and in society. To become “Affirming”, a ministry undergoes a 1-2 year period of discernment and education around what it means to be publicly welcoming and fully inclusive of LGBTQ folks.
During this process, the ministry also looks at what living that affirmation out would look like: crafting a vision statement that intentionally and explicitly welcomes LGBTQ folk in addition to other marginalized groups; ensuring their marriage policies, baptismal forms, and other life event forms reflect a diverse community and different family configurations; and developing an action plan for support and advocacy around LGBTQ justice issues. The ministry then votes on whether to become an Affirming Ministry. If a minimum of 75% of the ministry votes yes, the ministry joins Affirm United and plans a public celebration of their Affirming status. For a full description, see here.
To quote Red Deer Lake United Church in Calgary, embodying God’s radically inclusive love “takes more than politely shaking hands, but does the hard, vulnerable and intentional work of creating a space where all are made to feel welcome, wanted and accepted.” You can find more information about Affirm United here.
Photo c/o Mill Woods United Church, Edmonton AB