Registration open! AUSE Annual Conference/ Spirit Pride 2017, Vancouver

This year Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble is partnering with St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, joining our annual conference and AGM to SpiritPride, to make both into one amazing national event! Registration is now open. We hope a diverse community of all identities will join us on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh unceded traditional territories.

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The mission of SpiritPride is to provide a safe, positive, LGBTQ+ affirming space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to explore issues of faith, spirituality and sexuality. Our theme will be Hope Rising: Celebrating our Spirituality. See more information about the program here. Spirit Pride precedes and is one expression of Vancouver Pride, which takes place over the August long weekend. Plan to stay on!

Traditional institutions of “religion” have not historically been safe places for LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit communities. There has been judgement, rejection, harm, and misunderstanding. However, members of LGBTQ+ communities have always maintained a sense of their faith, and explored and grown in our spiritual lives. Many faith groups and churches have become welcoming, LGBTQ+ affirming places of faith that support their LGBTQ+ members.

Our host, St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, is an inclusive and Affirming Christian community located in the heart of downtown Vancouver BC., attracting people who have an open mind and an open heart and are willing to join with others in the exploration of faith, a desire to live with integrity and compassion, and a hope to be part of a meaningful community.

Please join us for worship, conversation, celebration, and learning!

As always, people and communities of all identities are most welcome. AUSE will work with St Andrew’s Wesley to find affordable accommodation, and we thanks congregation members and friends who are opening their homes to us . AUSE will also strive to find financial support for all who need it.

 

 

Announcing AUSE’s 2017 Conference dates and location!

Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble is delighted to announce that our 2017 annual conference will be shared in partnership with St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church and its wonderful Spirit Pride conference. The conference will be held July 28-30 in Vancouver, on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh unceded traditional territories. Spirit Pride precedes Vancouver Pride, which takes place over the August long weekend.

We look forward to planning a creative and inspiring LGBTQ and allies space with St. Andrew’s-Wesley.

More information will follow as planning gets underway. For now: save the date!

United Church Moderator visit to Amplify 16 Conference, Indonesia

In November 2016, Moderator Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell and Rev. Michael Blair, Executive Minister for the Church in Mission unit, visited Jakarta, Indonesia at the invitation of its theological seminary. There they contributed to Amplify 16, a pan-Asian Christian conference on LGBTQ+ rights, identities, and faith. The organizers explain the importance moderator-in-ause-tee-at-jakarta-theo-seminary-trans-conference-2-nov-2016of this amazing space and community:

“Amplify Ministries is a non-profit Christian organization on mission to proclaim and live out God’s inclusive love for all through supporting the development of theologically inclusive and LGBTIQ-affirming churches and ministries in the Asia Pacific….

AMPLIFY was born out of a call to be a blessing to the development of inclusive churches and ministries in Asia. From its beginnings in 2009, the conference provides a space for followers of Jesus Christ in the Asia Pacific region to worship, witness and wonder together; to explore and embody what ‘open and affirming’ means as we seek to be effective witnesses to the Gospel and meet the needs of our communities. ”

Moderator Jordan, Michael Blair, and a conference leader (Jakarta, Indonesia).

Moderator Jordan, Michael Blair, and a conference leader (Jakarta, Indonesia).

The Moderator writes, “I am struck by the incredible diversity of sexual and gender identities and how each culture has its own way of understanding, naming and expressing these. … It is particularly urgent that we listen to these diverse voices and experiences, because Canada is home to people from all over the world. Our ways of talking about and understanding gender and sexual diversity exclude and make invisible the experiences of many people within our church and the wider society.”

 

Affirming annual award: Honouring Jordan Sullivan

Every year, Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble offers a volunteer award or Affirming ministry award to an individual and/ or ministry who have offered exceptional inspiration and energy to the difficult work of widening radical inclusion. We were honoured to present the 2016 individual award to Jordan Sullivan at our 2016 conference at Glebe-St James United Church in Ottawa.

Jordan is the Ministry Partnership Animator at the General Council office of the United Church of Canada. He connects with a very wide range of diverse communities and brings to those relationships both a love of endless details and a deep respect for all identities and all stories.

Jordan was raised Seventh-day Adventist, and was an elementary teacher in SDA schools. He also worked for the Canadian Mental Health Association for ten years. In 1999 Jordan earned an M.A. in Religious Studies, and began his ministry in The United Church of
Canada in 2000. Jordan blogs intermittently about his journey of transitioning at https://onbecomingjordan.wordpress.com

In his words, ““The truth has a way of slowly working its way to the surface – if we’re open to receiving it. Such has been the story of my life. I have now come to a point where publicly affirming who I am is very important to me. I am a trans man who is on a journey to live more authentically as a whole person – accepting the masculine energy/identity I denied and suppressed since I was a young teenager. I have transitioned while employed at the General Council Office, deeply blessed with the support of my colleagues as well as the United Church folk I work with across the country.”

Jordan has shown a consistent and long-term dedication to the work of Affirm United. His work at the General Council Office has often focused on staff support for our movement, but Jordan’s support goes above and beyond his staff role at the GCO. His collection of Affirming ministry reports have played an integral role in sharing the work of Affirm United with our networks and helping our organization learn and grow. He has helped us make connections with a wider range of ministries, including camps and the important human rights work that accompanies any connections with children and youth.

AU/SE is proud to recognize Jordan’s work, and to celebrate both his passion for the work of Affirm United and an inspiring belief in the work we do together.

 

Highlights from Affirming ministries, 2015-2016

 Every year, Affirming ministries are asked to give a short annual report. Jordan Sullivan, Ministry Partnership Animator, and LGBTQ+ Justice at the General Council office, takes on the enormous task of compiling highlights. Many thanks to Jordan and to all the ministries who reported for sharing your stories and inspiring us. Please take a moment to look at these hope-filled stories, and feel free to share them in other publications.  Continue reading