Affirming Ministry and volunteers of the year awards
Every year, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble is pleased to honour ministries and volunteers who have inspired us to new hope and energy over the past year and beyond. With gratitude we name the exceptional contributions of Trinity- St. Andrew’s United Church in Brighton, ON; of Brian Mitchell-Walker; and of Rev. Shaun Fryday.
Affirming Ministries Award, 2015: Trinity- St. Andrew’s United Church, Brighton ON.
Submitted by Judy Amsbury
In June 2012, Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church in Brighton, ON became the first Affirming Ministry in Hills and Shores Presbytery, Bay of Quinte Conference. They have hosted a Conference Affirming Ministry workshop and have mentored five more congregations as they successfully worked through their Affirming Ministries process, advising, encouraging, loaning resources, and meeting with Affirming committees. Hills and Shores now has the highest percentage of Affirming ministries in Canada. TSA has walked in the Belleville PRIDE Parade for the last 3 years and proudly marched with their banner at World Pride in Toronto in 2014.
Social Justice in Action
Situated in a large fruit-growing area on the shores of Lake Ontario which employs hundreds of temporary migrant workers, TSA has a much needed and unique outreach program, Friends with Migrant Workers Brighton whose mission is to build community with migrant workers through friendship and hospitality.
They offer a safe space for the workers to meet every second Sunday July through October, to socialize, enjoy a nutritious meal somewhere other than in their bunkhouse, and share stories and concerns. As one of their main links to the community, TSA provides information about community resources and activities. They also collect used clothing & sundries and help find affordable items such as suitcases, warm clothing, laptops, etc. The Quinte Community Health Centre provides extended hours on Thursdays, and workers are driven there if they need medical attention.
Notes of Hope
Members meet monthly to write “urgent action” letters regarding human rights abuses and other issues.
Trinity St Andrew’s Affirming process was a resoundingly successful model of thoughtful planning, effective listening, respectful and thorough communication, particularly in the initial stages when met with some quite vocal concerns.
Volunteer of the Year Award: Brian Mitchell-Walker
Former AU/SE president Annette Taylor writes,
“I am nominating Brian Mitchell-Walker for the Affirm United/S’affirmer ensemble Volunteer Award. Brian has been involved in the work of AU/SE since the 1980’s, beginning with the Affirm Group in Toronto. He was a part of the National Coordinating Committee, including the role of secretary in the mid 1990’s. Brian was a very active member of the AU-SE Council from 2006 to 2012 and was an effective Co-Chair for three years.
Brian has also been involved in the Affirming Ministries program since the 1990’s. He has taken the role of consultant, Affirming Ministries Coordinator, Co-Chair of the Affirming Ministries group and mentor to new Affirming Ministry Coordinators.
Brian also chaired the United Church of Canada’s National GLBTT Consultation, which involved planning 10 regional gatherings across the country in order to collect information about how homophobia and heterosexism are present in the church. There were many recommendations from that consultation including the need for an apology. As a result of this work a proposal is coming to General Council 42 called Living Apology to Members of the LGBTTQ Communities.
Brian has been the AU/SE webmaster for over 10 years, first as a volunteer and in recent years under contract to the AU-SE Council. He now works closely with our new AU-SE Coordinator to ensure that the work of the AU-SE Council, and our Affirming Ministries is available to everyone.
Brian has been a relentless advocate for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities for many years and I believe he would be a very worthy recipient of the AU-SE Volunteer Award.”
Volunteer of the Year Award: Rev. Shaun E. Fryday
“It is with great pleasure, on behalf of the LGBTQ Youth Centre and the West Island Rainbow Seniors Center in Beaconsfield, QC that we nominate Reverend Shaun Fryday for the Volunteer of the Year Award.
As the minister of Beaconsfield United, the Affirming congregation from which our centres emerged, Shaun’s steadfast commitment to the integrity of our programs and the intentional living-out of the congregation’s commitment to the LGBTQ community has been outstanding. In addition to providing the leadership and insight into the development of our centres, Shaun also volunteers his services of care, support, guidance, and spirituality that arise from those we serve. It is for this part of Shaun’s dedication and commitment to the LGBTQ community, that drives the nomination for the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Affirm committee.
Shaun models inclusion through his attentive care, but also through his advocacy. Whether as a participant on a monthly radio talk show, through print media or speaking engagements, Shaun paves the way for the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in association with the church wherever he goes. On two separate occasions Shaun has spoken on LGBTQ issues at International Human Rights conferences at his own expense. More importantly, to those of us whom he is representing and returning to after these endeavours, he is an example of how to live inclusion. Shaun responds to any need of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two- spirited, queer and questioning youth, adults and seniors, and this dedication has made a significant difference and transformed lives. He further volunteers his time contributing his quiet presence in the background, offering encouragement and support to volunteers, board members, and program participants alike.
With Shaun’s energy and commitment, LGBTQ inclusion in church and society at Beaconsfield United and as lived through the Youth, Adult and Seniors centres involves: Gay Prom; Summer and Winter Camp; biweekly BBQ’s and dinners; parent’s group, regular drop- in schedule; gay-straight alliance development in high schools; concerts in the park; workshops on overcoming homophobia and so much more. Shaun’s dynamism and commitment to inclusion both in society and at Beaconsfield United, as lived through the community, is the knowledge that our centres and the church are a place of welcome for all people, and is widely celebrated within Montreal’s West Island Community. Shaun truly welcomes everyone into the church and centres with the same equal measure of hospitality, care, and responsibility. Shaun’s door is always open, his embrace always welcoming and his voice always heard holding up the marginalized.
We are honoured to be part of the vision of Affirming that Shaun has implemented, and we whole-heartedly nominate him for the Volunteer of the Year Award.”