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Office Hours : CLOSED

Phone : 306-586-3613

United Church of Canada

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We are an Affirming Ministry

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It's almost Pride Week

I was at Conference Annual meeting two weeks ago, and over one of the lunch hours, I attended a caucus for Affirming Churches and Churches in the Affirming process.  It was amazing to me to sit in a circle of folk who represented congregations that  had made the commitment to be a safe place for the LGBTQ+, and I was amazed that even though I haven't been ministering with an Affirming congregation for very long, I was welcomed and included... which, thinking about it now, makes total sense given the basic tenet of Affirming is to create and maintain a safe place for all.  While we shared stories of what we have been doing and what we planned to do, we also shared the concern about what the change in church structure will mean for the Affirming Church community here in Saskatchewan.  The numbers of churches who are publically committing themselves as Affirming is growing, and yet the communication and support structure is shifting.  There was a sense that there needed to be a conscienious and intentional network of communication put in place so that the Affirming churches in Saskatchewan COnference (or Region 4, in 2019) can continue to be in community, sharing events and learning opportunities.  As a member of the Regional Commission, I promised to take their concerns to the meetings of the COmission which will work through what the priorities of the new Region will be and how the Region will support those.  It made my heart happy to hear that the dedication to making out churches safe places is still strong.

As we approach Pride week, and our Pride worship this Sunday, I think it's important to remember that 11 years ago, this congregation declared that this place, this building, this community of faith, is a safe and welcoming place for all people - particularly those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Plus).  It is something to be proud of... offering a safe place for people even if we find it personally challenging.  Embracing that challenge allows us to open ourselves up to the love and wisdom the people who walk through our doors offer us.  Now, we are taking the next step: we've reestablished the Affirming Ministries circle in an effort to not only to renew our commitment to offering this safe place for the LGBTQ+ community, but to also look at how we welcome the differently able, different ethnic/racial backgrounds, older and elderly members, those with mental and intellectual challenges, the indigenous peoples... through education and conversation we will look at the ways we do things and evaluate what we might need to change in order to become more welcoming and accessible.  You know, it could be something as simple as clearer signage or tables to put coffee cups on.  By doing this kind of learning, we live into the understanding that we are called to love our neighbours.  When we meet another person, we need to love with out limitation or exclusion, recognizing the humanity in the other before we start categorizing and labelling.  

This year, Sunset folk will walk in the Pride Parade again with other United Church folk.  The big change this year is that folk of other faith groups have been invited to join us in the walk, creating a Welcoming Faith group.  As a group, we will remind the world that we are connected one to another through love and our humanity more than anything else.  By walking together, we make the statement that we support the LGBTQ+ community and hope that they know we offer them a place where they can be themselves.

I hope you can join us for our Pride service this Sunday at 10 am.  I hope you can come and celebrate the fact that we are an affirming congregation, that we are a people who seek to find justice and human rights for all, and that we are willing to be challenged by what being welcoming means in this day and age.  And I hope you can make it to the parade.  I won't be there, unfortunately, as I have meetings in Ontario that I need to be at, but I will be holding you in my thoughts and prayers knowing that you walk with hope and Pride.

 

 

Written by : Tricia Gerhard

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Sunset United Church

 

Phone: 306-586-3613

office@sunsetunited.ca

177 Sunset Drive
Regina, SK, S4S 6Y7

Office Hours: 8 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Tuesday - Friday