Affirm United Summer Newsletter

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Welcome to our Consensus newsletter for June and July 2015, and to lots of updates from across the national network. It’s summer, and the snow has finally gone.  It’s time for Pride in many communities, and it’s also time to register for AU/SE’s annual conference in Halifax.

We hope to see you there!

In this edition:
Register for the Halifax conference July 31-August 3! Final call for AU/SE 2015 award nominations Celebrate our new Affirming Ministries New Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble resources New Facebook page for Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble Ontario becomes first province to ban “conversion therapy” Global partners: Cuba takes another step toward equality
Affirming Ministries in action: Stories and ideas from Calgary AB, Beaconsfield QC, Guelph ON, and Waterloo ON

Registration reminder: Annual conference July 31- August 3, Halifax
Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble is a big and diverse network. We don’t get to see one another often enough, so please think about joining us in Halifax for learning and celebration Friday July 31- Monday August 3. Bring your energy, ideas, and questions, and take the chance to enjoy beautiful Halifax at the same time.  Everyone is welcome, no matter your identity or faith background.  See our website for registration, agenda, and details on accommodation and fees at   Please help the planning team by registering as soon as you can. If you can’t attend – perhaps there’s someone in your congregation/ministry who you could support to come! Also, donations to help others come are very welcome. Just note this on your registration form or email us at for more information.
Dates: Evening July 31 through lunch August 3.
Location: St Matthew’s United Church (an accessible building), 1479 Barrington Street, Halifax, NS
Theme: A Time for Transformation, with a major focus on trans* identities and rights.

Final call for nominations- AU/SE awards
We want your nominations! Help us honour the ministries and people who inspire and widen our common work.The Volunteer of the Year Award honours individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work of Affirm United, furthering the welcome and inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church as well as in society. The Affirming Ministry Award recognizes outstanding examples of outreach and Affirming ministries.Nominations for both will be received up to June 30, 2015.  Awards will be presented at the Annual General Meeting of Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble in Halifax. For more information on how to nominate, click here.

Celebrate our new Affirming Ministries
A very warm and proud welcome to our newest Affirming Ministries! Selkirk United Church in Selkirk, MB is our very newest ministry.  Since our last newsletter, Donway Covenant United Church in Toronto; St Mark’s United Church in Cannifton, ON; and the national group Diakonia of the United Church of Canada have all held their Affirming celebrations. In June, Maritime Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of becoming Affirming, and Manitou Conference also voted to start the process.

New resources!
Rural and Affirming: Affirm United supporter David Lander offers a reflection on being rural and becoming Affirming, and the sometimes surprising impact on Grafton and Castleton United Churches, near Cobourg, ON

Frequently Asked Questions about AU/SE: A new introduction to who we are and what we do and believe.

New Facebook page for Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble
We now have a Facebook page at
Please “like” the page, and remember that you can post, comment, and send photos to add to our growing collection.  Over 200 people have joined in so far—please help us grow!  Why a page?  This Facebook format allows us to include people who do not have a Facebook account; a “group” doesn’t allow for this.  Anyone can “like” a page and start receiving updates and event invitations, as well as participate in comments and conversations.  A page is more wide open; it allows more scope to reach people who are on Facebook but know little about AU/SE and its aims. If you have any questions or ideas, please email Julie at

Ontario becomes first province to ban “conversion therapy”
On June 5, Ontario became the first province to legally ban so-called conversion therapy for LGBTTQ children. The government passed the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act, which was initiated by a private member’s bill put forward by NDP MPP and United Church minister Cheri diNovo. This CBC article gives more background on “conversion therapy”. Congratulations to all who worked to get this bill successfully through the process!

Global partners: Cuba takes another step towards equality
Jim Hodgson is the national Coordinator of Caribbean and Latin American partnerships for the United Church. He works with many global partners who are part of the worldwide movement for LGBTTQQ2 movement. He writes: May 9 in Havana, Cuba, twenty gay and lesbian couples joined in a public joint commitment ceremony inspired in part by the World Pride held in Toronto last year. The National Centre for Sexual Education (CENESEX) and Mariela Castro (daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro) pulled it all together, with help from United Church of Canada partners and friends.

Various people who work with organizations who are United Church partners provided leadership, including:  The Martin Luther King Memorial; Kirenia Criado, a Quaker Evangelical Seminary of Theology; the Presbyterian Church of Cuba; Casa de Cariño (a ministry to people living with HIV and AIDS). From outside Cuba, there were people from Pastors for Peace (a U.S.-based group that the United Church has assisted frequently in their relationships in Cuba) and the Metropolitan Community Church in Mexico and Canada. The seminary also hosted a conference April 29-30: “Non-Normative Genders and Sexualities.” Work continues in CENESEX, the Cuban Parliament and in numerous organizations to change Cuba’s family code to allow: assisted reproduction for lesbian couples; protection from discrimination in employment for trans people; legalization of same-sex partnerships; and adoption rights from same-sex couples. Changing the definition of definition of marriage would require a constitutional amendment, which will not be an easy process.

Affirming Ministries in action
This is a regular feature exploring updates and great ideas from across our network of Affirming Ministries and others. Send your stories to Julie at

Calgary Human RITES Conference a success!
Pam Rocker says: “Our May 2015 Human Rites conference highlighted and celebrated the progress made and conversations being had by various leaders who are using their voices to create positive and inclusive change. And it honoured the fact that active exclusion of LGBTQ people is still being experienced daily.  With over sixty registrants, and eighty to a hundred additional people attending each of our public evening events, this was the biggest and most successful faith LGBTQ conference that Alberta has seen. The conference was founded by five Affirming United Churches in Calgary… and sponsored by many other multi-faith and community organizations.” Read more….

StarGayzers: West Island LGBTQ Youth Centre’s Queer Prom
Gabrielle Poitras writes: “As teenagers, we are often taught that our high school prom is meant to be the pinnacle of our high school experience, a celebration of all the hard work and growing that we have done. However, this is not the case for everyone; being anywhere under the LGBTQ umbrella can make prom an extremely stressful and even sad time. Many Queer teens feel awkward expressing themselves at prom, be it by bringing a same-sex partner, wanting to wear a tux when others expect them to wear a dress, or having a whole room of straight peers stare when they dance with your date. Many are flat out not allowed. With this in mind, the West Island LGBTQ Youth Centre recently hosted its second annual Queer Prom, at the request of the Centre’s youth.” Read more…

Emmanuel United, Waterloo, ON: Beyond our building
Rev Dr Bruce Sweet serves Emmanuel United. He notes, “What we do and say outside our buildings is crucial.” Over a month after adding a rainbow flag to the front of their church, Emmanuel United Church in Waterloo, Ontario received a note from someone who often drives past the church. Read on.

Harcourt Memorial United Church LGBTQA+ Committee update (Guelph, ON)
Julie Glass-Ashley, chair of the committee, describes Harcourt’s involvement in Guelph Pride, and how the committee wants to reflect on the wider connections between their mandate and social justice. Read more here.

Copyright © 2015, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble.

Our mailing address is:
Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble
PO Box 57057 Somerset Stn.
Ottawa ON K1R 1A1


One thought on “Affirm United Summer Newsletter

  1. Pingback: Minister's Notes: June 18, 2015 - Meewasin Valley United

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