6 Months into the Affirm Process

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.”

Find out more:

What is Affirming?
Why Affirming?
Past Events (a record of our past  Affirming events/activities)

Shrove Sunday Pancake Lunch

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

Holding Space for One Another at Christmas

Blue Christmas

Vancouver, BC. December 11, 2017. – “Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call. Their favourite time of the year.” So goes the popular holiday song. But sometimes Christmas can be anything but fun.

It’s a season where we naturally call to mind relationships with family. We reflect on all the things we accomplished this past year…or didn’t. We look back and smile at our successes, or cringe with disdain at our failures. For many, Christmas is full of anxiety, dread and loneliness – but we seldom have a safe space or even the permission to admit it.

Naomi looks back on her life this year and it’s been a year full of highs and lows. After years of wrestling with her identity she finally married her loving partner Jenn on Easter Sunday. The two are now stepping into life as wives, and while their relationship is full of love and acceptance – a few of Naomi’s conservative Christian family hasn’t been so keen.

“My dad was really great about it – but while he still says he loves me he can’t really get on board. The same can be said for my brother and sister-in-law. I know they love me – they just can’t accept that ‘my person’ is a woman or that I have a wife.”

Naomi explains that it’s really challenging to have such accepting friends, a loving urban family and yet have a less-than-tolerant blood family: “we all live in different parts of the world which makes working through this even more difficult.”  

And set against the backdrop of all of this family rejection this last year, Naomi’s mother’s quality of life was rapidly deteriorating with Parkinson’s and dementia and Naomi was unable to really connect with her Mum. She later died just a few short weeks ago in November.

“It’s been 12 years that we have seen my mom lose to this disease. Parkinson’s can be all consuming and in a way I felt like I lost my relationship to both my parents. We all processed it in different ways. Life became all about the disease for my parents. You know that the person is there in the physical form but they can’t communicate effectively.  But when my mom was on her deathbed we did have some closure.

And now I feel after she has passed almost closer to her. I don’t know what the ‘other side’ is like but there is something about her being in that place which has shifted things for me. I wonder whether since she has been freed from her physical body if she can now see parts of my life that she couldn’t see or participate in before. This story is helping me process our relationship and my grief.”

Naomi can’t help but reflect on love and loss this year at Christmas. Part of her healing will be attending a special Christmas Service held at Canadian Memorial United Church called “Blue Christmas”.  

Minister Beth Hayward of Canadian Memorial United Church  has been putting on the special service for several years now and it’s gaining in popularity.  She says, “We are finding people really need a safe space to be free to admit grief, sadness, stress, anxiety – all of the human emotions that Christmas can often remind us of. So in our Blue Christmas Service we aim to acknowledge and release our grief and sorrow and begin a new journey toward joy.”

Naomi says, “I will definitely be attending this year. Holding space for each other to just ‘be’ – to be in the tension of life, death, relational tensions and unresolved questions, where love is the blanket that wraps you up in the uncertainty – is so important in the journey of healing. Canadian Memorial facilitates this kind of space really well.”

Blue Christmas takes place December 20th from 7:30 – 8:30pm at Canadian Memorial United Church. There will be a time of music, quiet reflection, and stories. The service is free and open to all.  





Event at a Glance

What: Blue Christmas Service
When: December 20th, 2017
Where: Canadian Memorial United Church, 15th and Burrard
Time: 7:30-8:30pm

Cost: Free
Contact: 604-731-3101

Light Up the Season 2017

We invite you to bring light into this season by donating a light to the Canadian Memorial Christmas Tree.

Gifts in honour of someone will receive a card to mail to that person, letting them know you have made a donation. All gifts in honour or memory will include an option to be publicly recognized. Donations are tax-deductible. Online donations can be made at the link here, or in person donations can be made in the CMUC Office.

Lighting Up the Tree & Carol Singing

Whether you are able to make a donation or not, join us on Sunday, December 3rd at 5pm to sing carols, drink hot chocolate, and light up our tree! All are welcome.
Sunday, Dec 3rd, 5pm
CMUC Centre for Peace


Remembrance Service and Open House

A Climate of Peace

Remembrance Service with Guest Preacher Elizabeth May
Sunday, November 5th, 10:30am
Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace
Elizabeth May is one of Canada’s most respected environmentalists, and has a long history of involvement in peace movements. Trained as a lawyer, May served as Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada for seventeen years. A practicing Anglican, she also studied theology at St Paul University, and has received an honourary Doctorate of Divinity from the Atlantic School of Theology. May is the leader of the Green Party of Canada and a Member of Parliament representing Saanich-Gulf Islands.
All are welcome.

Following Worship Elizabeth will stay for a Q&A, co-hosted by Author and Activist Bill Geimer and local Peace Groups.

Light refreshments provided.
12:00-1:00pm in the Centre for Peace Youth Room

Bill Geimer is the author of Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars, which he will share more about during the discussion. He is also a peace activist, a veteran of the U.S. 82d Airborne Division, and Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington and Lee University. After resigning his commission in opposition to the war on Vietnam, he represented conscientious objectors and advised peace groups near Ft. Bragg NC, once representing Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory and Donald Sutherland in negotiations with police.

1:00–3:00pm Books of Remembrance Open House

Canadian Memorial United Church invites you to visit its sanctuary and view the unique and historic stained glass windows created as a memorial for peace after WWI. The church also houses the only copies of the Books of Remembrance outside Ottawa. Come view the books and names of family members who gave their lives in the hope of peace.