Affirming Ministry at Wesley-Knox

Three years ago we officially started on the discernment process of becoming an Affirming Ministry. Over these three years we have hosted events, talked to committees and individuals involved at WesleyKnox and updated many of our policies and practices. Out of this, we have discerned and truly believe that WesleyKnox is ready to become an Affirming Ministry.
We have also heard people’s feedback about wanting to know more about the process and what it would mean to become an officially Affirming Ministry. So, with the support of Rev Rob and leadership council, we are splitting the congregational vote into two pieces.
Over the past three years, we have existed as the “Inclusivity and Affirm DISCERNMENT” committee with part of our mandate being to determine if Wesley– Knox is ready and willing to complete the process. Out of this discernment to us has come a clear answer of “yes!”. We believe we are done discerning and ready to move forward with the process. In February we will ask you to vote in favour of our discernment and our recommendation that WesleyKnox move forward in the Affirming process.
If this motion passes, we will hold the final congregational vote to become a fully Affirming Ministry in May. This will give us a few months to ensure that everyone has the information needed to make an informed vote and will also allow us to host several events between now and then.

Wesley-Knox Affirming Vision Statement:

Wesley-Knox United Church proclaims to be an affirming community of faith where all people feel welcomed and included regardless of age, differing abilities, economic circumstance, ethnic background, gender, gender identity, physical or mental health, family composition, race, or sexual orientation. All are welcomed to fully participate in the worship and ministry of Wesley-Knox.

From the United Church of Canada’s faith statement, A Song of Faith, “we recognize all people as kin” and that “all creation is good”. In following the ministry of Jesus, we are publicly committed to continuing the work of justice and inclusion for all.

Why Become an Affirming Ministry?

“Affirming Ministries are congregations, presbyteries, Conferences, educational institutions, and other ministries within the United Church that publically declare their commitment to inclusion and justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Although Affirming Ministries make an explicit statement about issues of sexuality and gender, their commitment to justice is far broader. They continually grow and change as they seek to live more fully into God’s way of welcome, love, and justice for all creation.” From “Why Become an Affirming Ministry

PIE= Public, Intentional, Explicit

National Affirming/PIE Day was co-founded by Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble and Affirming Connections to set aside a special day every year to celebrate the full inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ people in faith communities and beyond! This day also reminds and challenges us to continue widening our welcome and using the concepts of PIE Day to embody love and celebrate gender and sexual diversity in all its forms.

We use the acronym PIE because it’s easy to remember and stands for Public, Intentional, and Explicit: the standard for an affirming welcome of LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit people. PIE represents three ways for us to test just how real our Affirmation and celebration of gender or sexual diversity is.

The Affirming Process and Our Journey

Download the full infographic here.

Fall 2018: Wesley-Knox forms the Inclusivity Committee (ad hoc) in order to explore issues of inclusivity and to make a recommendation about whether we are ready to begin the Affirming Process.

February 2020: Wesley-Knox officially embarks upon the Discernment Stage of the Affirming Process.

Committee Accomplishments, Events and Outreach:

Fall 2018: Replacement of washroom signs to create “all-gender” washrooms

February 2019: Movie Screening “Sankofa: Histories and Heritages of Black Peoples in the United Church of Canada”

April 2019: Lunch and Learn (Topic: Kairos Blanket Exercise)

June 2019: Iridesce Living Apology Display and Presentation

Participation in London’s Pride Parade (annually)

September 2019: Race and Culture Sunday Worship with guest speaker Leroy Hibbert

January 2020: Lunch and Learn (Topic: Loneliness)

February 2020: Panel Discussion with members of the Affirming Committees of First St Andrews, Trinity, and Riverside United Churches

November 2020: Book Club (Book: The Marrow Thieves)

March 2021: PIE Day Worship Service (virtual)

Inclusion of the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement into regular worship services

January 2022: Special Worship Service (Theme: Iridesce Living Apology Story and the 1988 Vote)

February 2023: Congregational Vote on the motion to become an Affirming Ministry.

Additional Resources

  1. Affirm United (Website)
  2. A Timeline of LGBTQIA2S Justice in the United Church of Canada (originally published in Mandate Magazine)
  3. Working Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Denomination (published by the United Church of Canada)
  4. Sorry. Why Our Church Apologized (published by the United Church of Canada)
  5. What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality? (published by Lynn Valley United Church)
  6. Ruth’s Story (Video)