BBUC celebrated becoming an Affirming Congregation!
November 13, 2016
Frequently Asked Questions (excerpted from Affirm United)
Let’s start with a really important question: Can I be LGBTQ+ and Christian? Yes. And yes. You are a cherished and beloved child of God. Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble believes that all gender identities and sexualities are a gift from God and that churches should be a safe and fully welcoming space for LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit people to worship.
Who are we?
Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble (AU/SE) is a justice-oriented organization of people in The United Church of Canada. AU/SE works for the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in The United Church of Canada and in society. Membership is open to those who support our work, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. AU/SE works in partnership with The United Church of Canada but is an independent, volunteer-led movement. If you would like to know more about how this relationship developed, have a look at About Us.
What is the Affirming Ministry Program?
The Affirming Ministries Program is a network of The United Church of Canada congregations and ministries that declare themselves to be fully inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. And it asks each ministry to take action. The program encourages all United Church bodies (congregations, regional councils, conferences, educational centres, camps, chaplaincies) to study and discern what it means to be publicly welcoming and inclusive in their context. The program provides support for sexual orientation and gender identity issues. It also encourages the study of other United Church resources that promote the inclusion of other marginalized groups. The program was launched in 1992. The United Church officially endorsed the program in 2000 and encouraged its ministries to participate. Affirming Ministries are at the heart of the Affirming movement. There are almost 200 Affirming Ministries and ministries in process across Canada. And your presence as an individual or new Affirming Ministry strengthens our common work; it’s a witness to the belief in action that God loves all, without limit or restriction.
What’s the difference between being “Welcoming” and “Affirming”?
Most congregations do their best to be welcoming, but being affirming goes deeper and is public, intentional, and explicit in the commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Think “PIE” - Public, Intentional, and Explicit
Public: An Affirming Ministry uses symbols and signs which are echoed outside and inside the church building, in worship, and in all other facets of church life. The broader community should also know what it stands for - a witness to the wider community that God’s love extends to everyone equally and without reserve. This is still a radical message!
Intentional: An Affirming Ministry is deliberate in its process of study, education, and dialogue with members of its faith community (both during the Affirming process and as a piece of its ongoing work) to ensure that the history of oppression and discrimination by the Church is both understood and acknowledged, and that continued growth, education, and celebration are part of its ministry.
Explicit: Affirming Ministries should explicitly indicate in their Mission and Vision statement – and everywhere else! – that the LGBTQ+ community is a part of and embraced in all facets of church life. And as part of the Affirming process, their faith community will explore and explain how to live out that commitment.
We are already an Affirming Ministry – what next?
There are so many ways to live out your ministry. How can you make your commitment to be affirming Public, Intentional, and Explicit? Think “PIE” again! For example:
Do I have to be LGBTQ+ to join? No! Membership is open to all. We welcome all who would like to support the inclusion of everyone in the church and society.
Can individuals be members? Absolutely. Here’s the form! We welcome individual supporters. Your skills, ideas, and energy are a vital part of our movement. Your small membership fee goes to support AU/SE’s work in the church and wider community, and you’ll receive our newsletter, Consensus, and an invitation to our annual conference.
I need help!
Whether you need more resources or need support in coming out, we will do our best to support you. There are many resources available to you – you are not alone!