We are proud that KUC has officially been an Affirming congregation and a member of Affirm United for 21 years. As a quick refresher for those who are relative newcomers to our congregational family, let me say a little about what it means when we say we are Affirming. We hear the statement each Sunday as a part of our welcome as we prepare to worship, but there is a difference between being welcoming and being affirming.
Most congregations do their best to be welcoming, but being affirming goes deeper and is public, intentional, and explicit, in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Being affirming is about radical hospitality, about making sure that everyone finds this to be a safe place to be who they are, and to be fully included in all aspects of the life of the church, and the broader society. In particular, Affirming Ministries like Kamloops United Church work for the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the United Church of Canada and in society.
Probably most of us would agree that KUC is a place where everyone feels welcome and included, and many probably wonder why it is still considered necessary to have a ministry that focuses on affirmation and inclusiveness. But if we look outside these walls there are many people in many places that are still feeling the pain of non-inclusion, outright discrimination and violence. In the USA, in 2017 the number of anti-LGBT bills and measures has increased by 500%. In recent news there has been a systemic anti-LGBT purge with the detention, torture and murders of gay men in Chechnya. In 72 countries, homosexuality is still illegal, and in 13 of those punishable by the death penalty.
It’s hideous and unthinkable, and frankly hard to relate to in our community here, but given what we know about the science of sexual orientation and identity, it is safe to say that there are many of us right here who can identify or are connected in some way to loved ones whose lives have been impacted. This pain could be your pain, or the pain of your child or sister or father or grandchild.
Remember the “PIE” principle? The importance of being Public, Intentional, and Explicit?
Around the world, June is Pride Month, but there are too many celebrations in communities across Canada to fit into one month and in August, in our own community, the Kamloops Pride organization is planning their very own first ever downtown Pride Parade.
I am very excited because of this opportunity for all of us of Kamloops United Church to be Public, Intentional, and Explicit in our commitment to being Affirming and to demonstrating our support for the LGBTQ community locally, and globally. Being Affirming is part of our identity…it is part of who and what we are as a church family.
Over the last year KUC has been building a relationship with the Kamloops Pride group. They meet regularly in our board room, and we’ve had several conversations with their executive about how we can best be allies with them and show support.
On Sunday August 20 we have a wonderful opportunity to show up and live out our commitment to being an Affirming congregation. KUC ~ a centre for community and spiritual discovery invites and encourages you to share in this opportunity!
On that Sunday (Aug. 20), to enable us to participate in the Kamloops Pride Parade, our congregation will meet at KUC for worship one hour earlier than usual…at 9 am…so that those who are able can gather at Riverside Park at the designated hour of ten o’clock and march together as Kamloops United Church, in solidarity with the Kamloops Pride community.
I am so proud of this church family and very grateful to Rev Bruce Comrie, and to Rachel, and to the worship group who developed this wonderful plan to accommodate worship and our participation in the parade. I love that we will be gathering to walk with the pride community, coming fresh from worship that day.
So to be clear, on Sunday August 20 worship here will begin at 9 am. At 9:45 we will continue in worship by moving from here to Riverside Park to walk together in the parade. For those who are unable to do the walk, coffee time will still be available in the hall.
Vehicles are not permitted in the parade, but bikes, trikes and scooters are, so you have options!
There will be other opportunities to help out that day. Kamloops United Church is registered as an organization to walk in the parade, and we have also registered to have a table during the display time in the park. Check out the Kamloops Pride website for more information about this event.
We will be looking for a couple of volunteers to help carry our KUC banner as we walk, and we will also be looking for folks to be at our table in the park representing KUC. There are other volunteer needs as well. If you have questions contact Chris Dolson.
Florence has a fun plan to gather t-shirts that will be dyed so that we KUC folk can be visible in our presence and identifiable on August 20.
This is one step forward in KUC being public…intentional…and explicit …in being affirming and demonstrating that love that surpasses all others.
Together we affirm God’s radical gift of love for all, with no exceptions.