Affirming Ministry

What is Affirm United?

Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble works for the full inclusion of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations in the United Church of Canada and in society. They draw strength and hope from biblical stories of liberation; from the prophetic call to live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God; and from Jesus’ witness to God’s inclusive love.

They are a voice and a support for people of all sexualities and gender identities and expressions, and they help ministries become truly welcoming, safer sacred spaces through their Affirming Ministries program.

St. Andrew’s becomes an Affirming congregation

At our Annual Congregational Meeting in February 2019, the congregation of St. Andrew’s unanimously passed a motion to begin work to become an affirming congregation. On Sunday, December 6, 2020, the Mission Team completed the last step in the process when it adopted an action plan that will keep diversity awareness in the forefront of all we do at St. Andrew’s.

The final step in making our Affirming status “official” was to hold a public celebration. That happened Sunday, June 27th at morning worship (10:00am, via YouTube). Former United Church Moderator the Very Rev. Gary Paterson was our guest preacher, and special guest Lauren Kirkey spoke. The celebration was joyous!


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I be LGBTQIA+ or Two Spirit and Christian?

Yes! Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble, and St. Andrew’s as an Affirming ministry, 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.

What is an Affirming congregation?

The Affirming Ministries Program is a network of United Church of Canada ministries of all kinds that strive 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, and other Christian traditions, to study and discern what it means to be publicly welcoming and inclusive in their context. The Affirming program also encourages the study of other United Church resources that promote the inclusion of other marginalized groups.

What’s the difference between being “Welcoming” and “Affirming”?

Affirming ministries like St. Andrew’s work hard to be public, intentional and explicit in their commitment and action towards change. They use symbols and signs displayed publicly in all facets of church life so that the broader community recognizes the Affirming belief. They are deliberate in education and dialogue with members of their community to acknowledge and understand the Church’s history of oppression and discrimination, and to continue their growth and education. They are explicit in their statements and actions that the LGBTQ+ community is a part of, and is embraced by, all facets of church life.

What does being an Affirming ministry mean at St. Andrew’s?

It means expanding our commitment to connecting with and nurturing community as we work to Affirm LGBTQ2+ identities and participation in all aspects of church life. It means we have made public declarations in our revised Vision Statement, and a continuing Plan of Action, to ensure that we are accountable for the work we do to make a safe and nurturing space for all identities. It means that, as a member of Affirm United, we support the work (including advocacy and the Affirming Ministries program) that the organization does, while gaining their support in our own Affirming journey. Nothing was lost when we became Affirming—rather, we strengthened, and continue to strengthen, the faith, the community and each other.

For more information on Affirm United, please visit their website.