We are an Affirming Ministry
Nelson United Church has supported Pride by marching in the parade every Labour Day weekend for over 20 years.
Still, there are churches loud and vitriolic in their messages of hatred and condemnation.
Still, there are folks who hoist up placards “God hates fags” and “You will rot in hell”.
Still, television evangelists and others pump out messages of rejection and judgment.
So we must
Still be a public witness to God’s radical love as revealed in Jesus.
Statement of Faith and Action
God calls us to be a loving, inclusive and compassionate people,
who following Christ’s teachings,
gather to worship, celebrate the gift of love,
live with respect in creation
and seek justice and welcome for all
regardless of, but not limited to, the following:
age, race, colour, ancestry or place of origin,
gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status,
physical and mental ability
and economic status.
We had the honour of
Dr. Marion Best
joining us on Sunday, March 9th, 2014.
She presented Nelson United Church with our
Affirming Ministry Certificate
from the United Church of Canada.
Marion was the 36th Moderator of the United Church of Canada, 1994-1997.
She is a well-known lay leader and
in 1998 began serving as a Vice-Moderator for the Council of Churches.
She has served as President of British Columbia Conference
and on the United Church’s General Council Executive, the body that deals with
specific assignments from the broad vision that the General Council endorses every three years.
As a member of the national organization, Affirm United, we joined several other United Churches across Canada,
providing a safe and compassionate environment for all.
We welcome everyone to an inclusive space to explore spiritual journeys.
An equal marriage policy has been in place at Nelson United Church since 2004,
allowing for same-sex marriages to be performed by our minister.
As a recognized Affirming Congregation, we are required to submit an annual report to Affirm United indicating our continued ministry. These are the submitted report:
Morgan Gould, (a member of NUC)
Presented in Worship to promote Stewardship.
Last week, in the US, a new video game was uploaded to a well-known digital game store called “Kill the Faggots”. The game awards points to the player who kills the most ‘faggots’, and extra points for killing transgender people. The project was created and uploaded by Randall Herman, a California video game developer. Would you be surprised to learn that the author and designer of the game is a self-avowed Christian? Mr. Hermann complained the gaming community was “overly sensitive and easily offended” when the game was removed from the site.
Moving from the world of games to the world of reality, a Christian lawyer has filed a ballot initiative to execute all gay people in California ‘by bullets to the head.’ California Attorney-General Kamala Harris has failed in her attempt to suppress the ballot initiative. The ballot reads in part that any ‘offending’ gay person “be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The Christian lawyer reasons that ‘it is better that offenders die rather than all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us.”
From the secular world to the church, Rich McCaffrey and his husband Erik were scheduled to have their son baptized at Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida only to be told that their son’s baptism would have to be cancelled because church members had objected. The situation is under review by the Bishop, and the parents hope for a successful outcome.
You will understand then when I say that I am full of feeling following last week’s worship that recognized and spoke to the concerns of transgender individuals. In fact, it is the first time in my life that I have been named and welcomed as a gay man in the context of a worship service.
From our first day here, our church community at Nelson United Church welcomed us with open arms, and when the day came that the most wonderful man in the world proposed to me, we both of us knew that you, our community, would be an integral part of our wedding, and our joy. Indeed, our wedding day will be remembered as one of the happiest days of my life, a happiness multiplied a thousand fold because it was not only celebrated with you, but by you all.
After the high of getting married, Joe and I spent weeks in discussion about legal matters: wills, medical directives, and so on. We decided that on our deaths we would leave a portion of our estate to Nelson United Church. This is an expression of our gratitude to you, our church family, but more importantly, it is a gesture of support to Nelson United Church that it continues its purpose and mission far into the future.
For those of you who have never had to deal with hatred, bigotry and social exclusion from communal life, I can say that our church stands out as a rare exception. You welcomed us as gay men, but in time you came to see us as friends who are gay. Part of our legacy will be a ‘forever’ thank you to you all.
Today we launch the “Leaving a Legacy” program, and you’ll find the details in a brochure that has been prepared. In it you’ll learn about the creation of a Legacy Fund that is a vehicle for you to set aside money or other wealth from end-of-life assets rather than monthly or annual income. There are many ways to do this, and the brochure details most of the options.
Over the next month, you’ll hear from David, and Peter Busby. The capstone of our effort will be Jane Harding’s visit on June 7th when she will preach during our Sunday worship.
I hope that many of you are moved to consider a legacy gift, not least because it is part of your legacy and how you wish to be remembered, but equally because you understand that Nelson United Church is a vital, essential and critically important part of the wider Nelson community, and the larger life of Canada.
It is my honour to speak to you today, and I thank you for your kindness in listening.
By John Prochaska, (a member of NUC) posted Nov 23, 2013, in the Nelson Star
Having experienced already some of what it means to be an Affirming Church, members of Nelson United Church gather Sunday, November 24, for worship and a decision… whether or not to declare themselves… “Affirming.” Nancy Jones, Board Chair, observes that the congregation has been on a path toward Affirming since 1992 without calling it by that name; first by putting a plan in place for equality and welcome, by adopting a marriage policy allowing their minister to marry same-sex couples. In fact, Nelson United Church participated in Nelson’s very first Gay Pride Weekend and Parade seventeen years ago and has partnered every year since with ANKORS, a support organization for those living with and at the greatest risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and/or HCV (and having difficulty obtaining services elsewhere) co-hosting World Aid’s Day and the Aid’s Walk. Now, the congregation is to the point of deciding whether or not to take it to the next level. Should the congregation decide to take upon themselves the mantle of “Affirming” they will be saying “We intend to be a church where all are welcome.” Jones characterized the meeting as “perhaps a further step along the way to living ‘The Way of Jesus, embodying the Love of God’” — words from a mission statement the congregation adopted in 2012.
After 10 years of living these policy changes, there are discernible signs of this affirming influence among the members. Newcomers are said to come away from a first visit feeling valued, worthwhile—no longer alone in the world. Here’s what one person wrote recently who was a newcomer in 2011:
My partner and I walked into NUC for the first time that August. We had no idea what to expect, and we didn’t know if there were any other gay people or couples who went there, or how people would receive us. We were warmly welcomed from that point in time to the present day. I have never felt anything but part of the entire group at this beautiful church. When I announced our engagement 6 months ago there was a gasp and big applause for us. In fact, I haven’t recalled anybody visiting or newly attending there, no matter what they looked like or who they were who wasn’t welcomed and accepted in a similar manner.
Christopher Moore, who runs a program in Nelson called Trans Connect, providing support and resources for Transgender/Gender diverse folks in the East and West Kootenays, addressing Transphobia and Homophobia in our communities says,
A big piece of this work is educating people about gender diversity which helps create allies in our communities. Members of the United Church in Nelson have really stepped forward and shown our community support, by attending a yearly event known as Trans Day of Remembrance, held worldwide on Nov. 20, a memorial for Transgender People who have lost their lives due to violence. The church has also asked Trans Connect for educational training for member’s…their interest and openness is heartwarming.
Cheryl Dowdens, Executive Director, ANKORS, had this:
We have experienced NUC as a church that embraces those who have often felt marginalized or discriminated against due to their sexual orientation of gender identity. NUC members have done a great deal of reflection and have engaged in opportunities for dialogue about issues related to social justice and discrimination and worked hard to create an atmosphere of openness, love and generosity to those who may have had previous negative experiences with church-based religious groups…their very presence feels like a spiritual community affirmation and a healing gesture to those who have felt discriminated against on the basis of religion.
Finally, as a member of Nelson United Church since 2009 and a member of the larger Church since 1951, I too, have pondered the implications of being affirming and it brings to mind my two grandmas who were both deeply religious women. Both were born in the latter part of the 19th century. The first lived to the age of 97 and I saw her only once in all those years when I was age 12. I translated her absence and apparent indifference toward me as rejection and if that’s all I had in growing up I might have concluded that life wasn’t worth living. But I had another grandma who made all the difference. She lived for 88 years…affirming me at every turn. She was the kind of person everyone wants to have around at every stage of their spiritual journey. She made me feel valuable, worthwhile and…well…Nelson United Church reminds me of her.
Affirmation is a powerful ingredient of life. When it washes over us we know at last that we don’t have to go someplace else to be fixed or corrected before we can return. It was Comedian Robin Williams’ character in the movie World’s Best Dad, who said: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
People who identify differently are often vilified and then rejected, and the fault lies not with the rejected but those who target and harm others with their actions. Nelson United Church, in becoming an affirming church, would acknowledge this harm done to others and offer a place where other identities can find expression. Affirmation extends to all people who have been hurt or marginalized, especially when it has been the church of the past which has caused them harm. Nelson United Church, in its affirmation of all people, would seek not only redress, but to offer itself as a place where people are celebrated for who they are, and who have the personal integrity to accept and proclaim their identity.
If Nelson United Church agrees to assume the Affirming mantle, they will be the first church in the United Church’s Kootenay Presbytery to do so. United Churches in other parts of B.C. such as Penticton, Salmon Arm, Kelowna and Kamloops are already designated as Affirming or have Affirming Church status. If the congregation decides to continue on this path of Affirmation, look for it to seek new and transformative contacts with the Nelson community – young, adult, or old – all those in need of an affirming place for their respective spiritual journeys.
On December 30th, 2018 as a congregation, we recited the following Creed:
I believe in the precious nature of each individual. Peace to the people who respect their challenging and exciting neighbours.
I believe in Justice for all people. Peace to the people who promote just and equal opportunities for humankind.
I believe in Human Rights for everyone. Peace to the people who support the right for people to be accepted for who they are.
I believe in the acceptance of all people whatever sexual orientation and persuasion and gender identity. Peace to the people who speak out against persecution, bullying, verbal and physical abuse of individuals and groups of people.
I believe in an Inclusive Church.
Peace to the people who, with their love and desire for the wholeness of humankind, create communities and churches where we are enabled to worship in the spirit of diversity, honesty and love.
From Courage To Love: Liturgies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community,
Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd. © 2002 Geoffrey Duncan.
Used with permission.
Affirm United’s Newsletter: Consensus… Click to read