Affirm Committee

The members of the Affirm Committee are: 

Heather Copeland, Gillian Davies, Genie Morrissey, Brenda Pelton, Ann Price, Ingrid Thompson and Jessica Wise, with our minister Rev.David Clinker.
 
Affirm Committee
Questions, Comments and Responses arising from September 21st Service
1. Are Canadian churches as unwelcoming as those David showed from the US?
a. Some congregations in Canada are very welcoming. Others are indeed as unwelcoming
as the examples we saw and heard. Part of the difficulty is that the dominant voices
in North America tend to be those which are often less than welcoming towards the
LGTBQ community.
b. “All are welcome” signs do not always mean that LGTBQ people are welcome. Some
churches here in Canada have signs like this, but if asked, they make it clear that LGTBQ
people, while welcome to attend services, would not be welcome to participate in
leadership roles or have their families and relationships affirmed.
2. I think we are already welcoming and affirming at MRUC. Why the fuss?
a. Taking a public stand on this issue may, to some, seem strange at first. Many people
feel that MRUC gives a very warm welcome to all and there is no need for this step.
However, for people (particularly in the LGTBQ community) seeking a church home,
things are less evident. This is especially true for those who have not attended church
often or who come from a church that takes a different position. Knowing that MRUC
was an affirming church would allow them to take that first step without the risk and
fear of hurtful treatment or exclusion for them and their families.
3. Which Montreal churches are affirming? How is this displayed or made known?
a. There are five Affirming United Churches in the Montréal area -- see Affirm’s website
(affirmunited.ause.ca/quebec) for a list of these churches’ Vision/Mission statements:
i. Beaconsfield United Church (Beaconsfield)
ii. Summerlea United Church (Lachine)
iii. Église unie Saint-Jean (Montréal)
iv. Cedar Park United Church (Pointe-Claire)
v. Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Union Church (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue).

b. Some ways that these congregations express their membership in Affirm United are:
i. A mission or vision statement that expressly welcomes LGTBQ people
ii. A visible symbol (such as the Affirm logo) of which people can take note as they
pass the building.
iii. The statement and symbol can be found somewhere on the congregation’s
website.

c. There are several other congregations of various denominations, including some in
the United Church of Canada, which do not belong to Affirm United, but are actively
affirming. They make a similar visible statement to the LGTBQ community that they will
be honoured and affirmed in that congregation.
4. What is MRUC’s stance on same sex marriage?
a. Several years ago, MRUC took a position on marriage equality and committed to
offering marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples under the same conditions as those
applied to opposite-sex couples.
5. If MRUC joins Affirm United, will attrition be a problem?
a. MRUC has a history of retaining membership even in the face of conflicts.
b. When Rosedale/Queen Mary became Affirming, a few people left, but new members
also joined because of this decision. Some of them were from the LGBTQ community,
but some were simply drawn to a congregation which took an affirming position. A
social justice stance could attract members.
c. Ultimately, MRUC is attempting to discern what is the right thing to do, and make our
decision based upon how we answer this question.
6. How proactive will we be in the process? How visible in publicizing?
a. The underlying raison d’être of Affirm United is to help LGTBQ people who may have
been alienated from their Christian communities, or who come from outside of a church
tradition, to find a place where they will know that they and their families will be
welcome.
b. There are those who desire to publicise this process, and they ask:
i. Why not call the press at the time of posting the outside sign?
ii. Why not publish a brief article in the newspaper if we join Affirm?
iii. Why not be visible somehow during Pride week?
c. No doubt people will show leadership on this issue in different ways.
d. Some people feel more reserved or uncomfortable at the idea of making a public stand
on issues of gender and sexuality.
7. When and how will we vote?
a. Several feel that the congregation is ready and further discussion is unnecessary.
Others are less enthusiastic about a vote in the very near future.
b. The Affirm Committee is committed to bringing this to a vote once we feel we have
fulfilled our responsibilities in informing the congregation and following the process
recommended by Affirm United.
8. Would the vote be a ‘show of hands’ or a private vote?
a. The Council would decide this. It has been suggested that this particular issue is usually
voted on by a show of hands.
9. Who can vote?
a. Members of the church may vote.
b. Youth who have been confirmed are full members, and as such, may vote.
c. Several members of the congregation have expressed a desire that the vote be
extended to adherents. There is a procedure for this.
10.Will the Affirm committee continue?
a. Yes. If MRUC becomes a member of Affirm United, we are committed to an ongoing
process and a journey towards becoming more welcoming to all.
11.What is the process if something offensive happens?
a. The Affirm Committee is considering this carefully. It is evident that a clear process
would be necessary. We will continue to work on this, with the goal of discerning how
we could best contribute to wholeness and right relationship in the event of hurtful or
abusive behaviour.
12.What will the Affirm process entail?
a. A congregational vote on whether to formally join the Affirm organization
b. An ongoing discussion as to how our particular congregation will be Affirming. If we
become a part of Affirm United, this conversation will continue as we learn together.
c. The preparation of a Mission/Vision Statement
d. The addition of a visible sign to let people from the LGTBQ community know they will be
welcomed and affirmed in our congregation.
e. An official worship service declaring our decision to become an Affirming congregation.
13.Is the Affirm agenda detracting from other part of our church life?
a. From one congregant: “It is wonderful that we are having this discussion together.
Perhaps something that may come out of this conversation will be more openness
to other communities as well.” How does our church welcome and include those
from other socio-economic, linguistic, cultural or ethnic backgrounds? This remains a
challenge that we must meet.
14.Have any opinions really shifted during the last 3 years? If so, why?
a. Some people have changed their minds. One member's opinion has changed because
of the reports of abuses in countries such as Russia, Uganda and Iran, and now feels that
Canadian churches must make a stand.
15.If I have a question or a comment for the Affirm Committee, what should I do?
a. You may direct your question or comment to Heather Copeland, Gillian Davies, Genie
Morrissey, Ingrid Thompson, Brenda Pelton, Ann Price, or Jessica Wise in person, in
writing or by email, so that we can bring it to the attention of the committee

Here is a link to Affirm United:  www.affirmunited.ca