On June 10, 2018 after a full year of education and reflection spread throughout worship, numerous events, and monthly display tables, Canadian Memorial voted resoundingly to become an Affirming ministry. We join St. Andrew’s Wesley as the second Affirming United Church in Vancouver and stand with over 200 Affirming United Church ministries across Canada in witnessing to the wider community that God’s love extends to everyone equally and without reserve.
Affirming ministries declare in both words and actions that God loves and accepts people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. They commit to continued education and work for justice and inclusion of all people: combating racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia; increasing accessibility; and challenging bias and discrimination based on appearance, culture, class, or age.
What does this mean for us? We already had an inclusive marriage policy and LGBTQ folk in the congregation and leadership, but you might notice some new language in our mission and values (check out our inclusion statement!) and more importantly new signage on our website, bulletins, and church building as we “come out” to the wider community as Affirming. We’ll also be planning an official celebration of our Affirm status for the fall.
Our Affirm working group will be working closely with the leadership over the next year on the action plan idea prioritized by the congregation. If you’re interested in facilitating the next part of our journey as an Affirming congregation, whether you have a little time or a lot, you’re a planner or doer, an introvert or extrovert, technophile or luddite, there is space for you! Please contact Emily Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our Spring Celebration featured the launch of the Burrard Street Story Guild, and incredible music from our own Choir and Band. Followed by a BBQ and dance party. Pictures below (and on Facebook here).
“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.”
We’re being a bit sneaky. It’s of course suppose to be Shrove Tuesday, but we can’t help but want to eat pancakes with you all, and many folks travel a ways to get here on Sundays, making weekday evenings harder. So we’re doing it a couple days early.
Please join us for a pancake lunch as we reflect and celebrate our way into the season of Lent.
Sunday, February 11, after service in the Great Hall.
Are you able to help? We are looking for a few electric griddles to borrow. And looking for many volunteers to make and bring fruit salad that morning. Contact Christine if you are able to help: christine (at) canadianmemorial.org