This Lent we are organizing our second DineOut CMUC!
This Lent we are organizing our second DineOut CMUC!
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:
Nathalie and Diego are an absolute delight to get to know and share a beer (or South American wine) with. Just watch them finish each other’s sentences….
Nathalie: “When we started dating we always used to talk about living abroad. Learning new cultures, learning new languages – that’s something I’ve always been interested in. Rio is a hard city to live in. So we decided to apply for residency in Canada (Diego: “and it worked!”) Besides the weather, we picked Vancouver because of how inclusive it was. When I was living In the US it was really hard for me to fit in. I just didn’t feel welcome, even in church. It was devastating.”
Diego: “Everyone kept saying Vancouver was perfect for us: shared values and so many restaurants with vegetarian options! And it just really felt like a community here. My first ‘battle of sorrys’ that I saw was in the bus: someone was having trouble putting his bike on the bus and both the driver and cyclist kept trying to take the blame for it. They kept saying ‘sorry’ to each other for almost two minutes!”
Nathalie: “It’s not that Brazilians aren’t polite – they are! The system is corrupt and people are without jobs, they’re hungry and scared. When we moved here, I was still wondering whether not we would really stay but there’s no amount of money in the world that pays to feel safe walking home at 11:00 at night. It is one of the best feelings I’ve had living here.”
Nathalie: “Being brought up Presbyterian has been challenging the past few years and it’s been really hard to understand why the church is not open to the LGBTQ+ community, knowing what Christ was all about. He actually died and ate with people who were outside the norm. That was something that has always bothered me. How the UCC cares about this demographic really stood out for me. I really like the open-hearted and open-minded message that Canadian Memorial has.”
Diego: “I’ve actually been reading the Bible for 190 days now – a personal record. When I started to experience God, it was the first time I felt blessed and loved. At first I was trying to rationalize it. I would think, ‘this is the amount of serotonin in my brain. If I can measure it, I can understand where it’s coming from’. But I realized it was God. But not just any God: a God that is love. You don’t have to change yourself to go to church. You just have to love what God loves. You feel it in your heart. Canadian Memorial is a place that really represents me: same beliefs and a love for everyone. For me, that’s the biggest thing.”
Nathalie: “You have to love everyone because this is what we were called to do. Something that this church is about – spreading love and really embracing everyone, no matter your gender, race or ethnicity. This is how Canadian Memorial really spoke to me… other than, of course, the dogs in the service!”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
“When I met my future husband in England, he was married. Financially, we couldn’t see a way that we could ever have a future, so he moved his family to Zambia! After 18 months there, he decided to move to Vancouver and asked if I would consider meeting him there. After more ups and downs, we eventually married in 1968 and were married for 46 years! So, in the end it worked out well! We were living in Vancouver when he was arrested and went to jail for theft. It’s at this point that we met a minister who was very supportive of him. I witnessed the changes that God was making in Ted’s life and we were baptized shortly thereafter. When he had finished serving his time, he went back into prisons doing Bible Studies, as a Chapel volunteer. The same minister then convinced him he should be ordained. My first thoughts were “Oh my God! I don’t bake cookies, I don’t play piano, I can’t sing, how could I ever be a minister’s wife!?” But as time went on, he was absolutely convinced that was what he had to do. He was ordained in 1984 and the prison system invited him to become a prison chaplain. He went back to work in the camp where he had been an inmate. In the meantime, I was working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and worked there for 39 years. We enjoyed our retirement years together until he passed away in January 2014. I said to myself: “Tomorrow’s the first day of the rest of my life, a new chapter in the book of my life and I can make it what I want. I could feel sorry for myself… but who’s going to want to be around me? So I’m just going to go out, embrace life and get on with it!” I went to Barbados 3 weeks later and have been travelling ever since! Life is good!”
Happening Thursdays from 10am – noon.
Canadian Memorial is hosting a brand new, FREE play group for all ages, from babies to preschool. A more peaceful play group for your littlest ones or those who prefer a bit less stimulation. Professional storytime with songs and stories and puppets every week. Snacks, tea and coffee (by donation). This is not specifically a religious program, it is truly welcome to all.
Drop in, play and connect!
At Canadian Memorial United Church’s Centre for Peace (not the sanctuary building): 1825 West 16th Ave. Free parking onsite.
For more info, email Michelle: mcobban (at) hotmail (dot) com.