Lots of changes coming our way! We have invited a new Coordinating Minister, Rev Franklyn James, to guide and nurture our congregation starting July 1, 2021, we may be back in our building for some form of public Worship in April, and our aim is to vote on becoming an Affirming Congregation at the AGM in June! That is a lot of change in a very short period of time when it seems like life has been on hold for a year now.
It may seem like life has been on hold but just like a seed germinating below the ground, so much work has been going on. This past Sunday we heard from Pam Rocker both during Worship and after on the Zoom call conversation. Pam is so solid in her leadership and understanding of the Affirming Ministry process. During the Zoom call, she reminded us that becoming an Affirming Congregation does not mean the doors will open and we will be flooded with new members from the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
What taking this vote means is that we are intentionally stating what we believe and explicitly taking bold steps to publicly state those beliefs and then that we make those beliefs part of our every action, every program, every planning process. One of the first things that Pam pointed out is that Affirming congregations often are misguided by thinking that being listed as an Affirming Congregation on the United Church website is enough. She says definitely not. In the first place, only the insiders like us even know what Affirm United means. This is something that the Affirming Ministry Committee will be delving into next month.
What are the keywords that people look for when they are looking for a safe LGBTQIA2S+ friendly church to attend? Pam noted that our website, our eNews, and all our promotional materials should clearly demonstrate our support of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. This is something that we have been doing already but understanding just how important it is will give us extra focus on just how vital it is to continue on in this manner. She also said that our building needs to state what we believe. When people see a church, they are much more likely to jump to the conclusion that we are restrictive, punitive, homophobic, and exclusionary than they are to realize that we are open, loving, and drink wine during our church meetings!
Churches have a long history of mis-behaviours and we will need to outwardly express the difference in our attitude.
Blair used to point out that hundreds of High School and Elementary age children pass by our building every day. Roughly 10% of the general population identify with the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Our church has the opportunity to show those young people that they are beloved, welcome, included, accepted, and whole. They only need to know that we are here.
In the next few months, proposals will be made about how to add symbols of acceptance to the outside of our building to show the outside world what our hearts so clearly believe.