Ralph Connor Memorial United Church

The Little White Church on Main Street, Canmore, Alberta

INCLUSION

In the same way that Jesus reached out to all people, our faith community is called to be open and inclusive.

We continue to seek ways to be inclusive of all people of the Bow Valley, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, cultural background, education level, mobility challenges… ALL people!

To this end, after a two-year “Affirming Process,” RCMUC will be celebrated as an Affirming Ministry at 10:00 AM on October 27, 2019!  At the congregational meeting on Sunday, September 15, 2019, 96% voted in favour of RCMUC’s becoming an Affirming Ministry and an Affirming Vision and Affirming Plan were also approved.  To read these, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.  In addition, a recap of some of the key events and actions of our 2017-2019 Affirming process, is detailed here.

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URGENT ACTION ITEM – OCTOBER 20, 2019

Dear Friends in the Affirming Network of Faith Communities:

Many of us were shocked by the news in mid-September that:

1. Access to gender-affirming surgery has been made more difficult. Whereas in the past Albertans requiring ‘top surgery’ needed the signature of a medical professional or a mental health professional; now all are required to have the signature of a psychiatrist. “Top surgery” refers to bilateral mastectomy and male chest reconstruction, procedures which along with hormone replacement therapy are standard care for transmasculine individuals. Psychiatrists with the requisite knowledge base are hard to find.

2. Dr. Michael Marshall, the head of the Gender Clinic at the University of Alberta has resigned due to the lack of consistent and sustained funding through Alberta Health. He could no longer continue with a patchwork of grants.

Some in our Affirming Network have been directly affected. Rev. Tim Nethercott’s son Esme has spent years on the waiting list for gender-affirming surgery. (see https://globalnews.ca/news/5915272/alberta-transgender-surgery-rules-concerns/). Revs. Shannon Mang and Greg Wooley’s adult child Dean has also found their access to surgery blocked by this development.

Please join us in a letter-writing campaign on October 20, 2019. This campaign was initiated by the Skipping Stone Foundation (https://www.skippingstone.ca/transhealth). We would like to bring the considerable power of the Affirming Network of Faith Communities to bear in a protest against this change in policy and in support of adequate funding for the Gender Clinic at the University of Alberta, and for Trans and Gender Diverse care in Alberta.

Steps to take:

1. Post the Trans Infographic on your personal and on your Faith Community’s social media to promote participation in the letter writing on-line. You may also want to print this info-graphic for your bulletin boards. Please encourage those who are able to send digital versions of the letter to the Minister of Health and to the additional list of persons provided.

2. Organize a “hard copy” letter writing event in your Faith Community on Sunday Oct. 20. {we will do this after worship on Oct 20, at Ralph Connor} Provide paper copies of Affirming Congregations letter writing appeal for people to sign and mail to The Honourable Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health. Encourage participants to write a brief personal note in the space between the body of the letter and their signature.

Information on Skipping Stone Foundation’s letter writing campaign is available at their website (see above). The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care cited on Skipping Stone Foundation’s website is also available there.

Research shows that timely access to trans-affirming care saves lives!

Thank you so much for your help!! – Tim Nethercott
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RCMUC’s Affirming process of study and action began with a specific focus on inclusiveness related to the LGBTQ2 community, and touches all other aspects of inclusion and inclusiveness.  To become an Affirming Ministry, is to be public, intentional, explicit and accountable in our desire for inclusive community.   One step taken in 2016, was to perform our first same-sex wedding, and in 2019 our Council adopted the following Inclusive Marriage Policy:  At Ralph Connor Memorial United Church, we celebrate God’s gift of the human diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. We welcome all couples equally who come to us seeking to be married.

One major focus of our quest to embrace inclusion, is to strive to “live into right relations” with our First Nations sisters and brothers. We respect the apologies offered by the United Church of Canada to the indigenous peoples of this land, and have held a number of workshops to help us take seriously the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We acknowledge that each time we gather, we do so on the traditional lands of the Stoney Nakoda and other signatories of Treaty 7, and celebrate the relationships that are growing as we seek reconciliation and friendship.

 

AFFIRMING VISION STATEMENT of RALPH CONNOR MEMORIAL UNITED CHURCH, CANMORE – a community of faith on the traditional lands of the Stoney Nakoda First Peoples:

We affirm Christ’s love and desire for justice, inclusion, and affirmation for all, and Christ’s identification with those who have been marginalized.

  • We strive to be a community of faith in which all persons are fully included in all aspects of our life and work. We strive to publicly and explicitly welcome, care for, and learn from all persons, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, social or economic circumstance.

We affirm the present RCMUC Mission Statement, which shapes the choices and priorities of this community of faith:

  • “Ralph Connor Memorial United Church’s Mission as a Church Community is:
  • to nurture the spiritual exploration and growth of all our members and adherents;
  • to be an intentionally inviting Christian community that seeks, welcomes and embraces new members;
  • to reach out and become an agent for social justice in our neighbourhood and in the global community”.

We affirm our need to connect and align with other communities, within and beyond our faith tradition, who desire to actively work for inclusion and justice.

  • We will continue to engage in study, education and dialogue through workshops, advocacy, events and broader partnerships as we continue our journey.

We understand that these commitments are essential for a thriving, healthy Affirming Ministry.Affirm United Logo

AFFIRMING MINISTRY PLAN of Ralph Connor Memorial United Church 

In addition to the many Outreach initiatives already supported by RCMUC,

  1. WE COMMIT TO THESE ACTIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION:
  • Put up Affirm signage in and around our church (in addition to the current rainbow flags).
  • Make PIE Day an annual event, a time for learning, support & encouragement of LGBTQ2+ persons/issues.
  • Host the “Screenings with Meanings” film series again next summer.
  • Work toward full accessibility of our Church facility.
  • Continue to have exposure to/learn from marginalized people who can help educate us through speakers, weekend workshops, Affirming Moments, worship leaders.
  • Throw an Affirm celebration party after our vote and mark this with an annual Affirming Anniversary celebration.
  • Participate in pride parades, and in the local Canada Day parade.
  • Continue to participate in the Affirm Calgary group.
  • Make funding available for participation in workshops and conferences promoting community enrichment and inclusion, e.g. the national Affirm gathering.
  • Remain open to new ideas, and be ready to respond to local needs.
  • Request that the RCMUC Council make the following structural changes:
  • Disband the present Affirming Ministry Working Group, which had the task of guiding the initial period of study leading to the congregational vote, and establish a new Affirming Ministry Committee tasked with guiding and enabling our continuing journey as an Affirming Congregation; and
  • Establish a “Community Enrichment and Inclusion” working group (with budget, starting in 2020) to nurture RCMUC’s capacity to reach beyond our own boundaries in ways that are in keeping with our Mission Statement and Affirming Vision Statement.

2.WE COMMIT TO ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY AROUND US IN THESE WAYS:

  • Encourage the Town of Canmore rainbow crosswalk initiative, preferably near RCMUC.
  • “Stir the pot” in Canmore, by
    • engaging with other organizations to get a better sense of how marginalized peoples are managed/treated/supported;
    • becoming a “hub” in our community for engagement;
    • reaching out to other Bow Valley social action organizations.
  • Build connections with the Two-Spirit First Nation community in the Bow Valley.
  • Work with the Gay-Straight Alliances at local schools in an effort to bring them together.
  • Encourage the establishment of a PFLAG chapter in the Bow Valley (originally known as “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,” now just “PFLAG”).
  • Explore worship possibilities with groups presently under-represented in our community of faith.
  • Communicate with Rundle Memorial UC, Banff, as they consider the Affirming process.
  • Explore the appetite in communities of faith in Chinook Winds Region for a Social Justice network that would include a commitment to justice for LGBTQ2+ persons and communities, among others, and work with others who are willing to nurture such a network into a relevant and effective body.
  • Support community initiatives focusing on inclusivity.

-end- (updated 17 September 2019)

Please check out what’s happening on our Affirm Calendar of Events

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you have experienced any previous barriers to your participation in Church life,
please contact us so we can discuss ways that we can “open the doors” at Ralph Connor!!