WE ARE – in Banff, Canmore and beyond – an AFFIRMING MINISTRY of the United Church of Canada
In the same way that Jesus reached out to and welcomed all people, our faith community is called to be open and inclusive.
Our Affirming statement, formulated in 2020 by the Banff congregation and now used by our amalgamated Community of Faith, is:
As a community of faith on traditional Indigenous lands,
We strive to follow Christ’s example in reaching out in love and friendship to all.
We are committed to full inclusion of people, of any age, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, or personal circumstance, in all aspects of our life together.
We are called, in and with the larger community, to grow in faith through study, prayer, and service; to make known God’s gracious presence; and to show loving concern to all Creation.
Both of our campuses – Canmore (fall 2019) and Banff (fall 2020) – successfully went through the Affirming Process, so together we are an Affirming Ministry covering the Bow Valley. We intend for our buildings in Banff and Canmore to be regarded as safe spaces for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, at all times. We are also delighted to have an inclusive and equitable Wedding Ministry that covers both Banff and Canmore – contact Rev Shannon Mang firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
At a congregational meeting on Sunday, September 15, 2019, 96% of those who voted were in favour of RCMUC Canmore 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. Ralph Connor Memorial United Church – Canmore – celebrated its new designation as an Affirming Ministry on October 27, 2019! After the service, the congregation made a “human rainbow chain” around the Church, using the 125-foot rainbow banner generously loaned to us by the Calgary Unitarians!
We are also pleased that Rundle Memorial United Church in Banff became an Affirming Ministry in October of 2020, and that the entire Chinook Winds Region of the United Church of Canada became affirming in May 2023!
The Affirming process of study and action begins 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. See https://weddings.ralphconnor.ca/ for more info!
In addition to the explicit work being done with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,
we strive to live into right relations with our First Nations sisters and brothers. See https://ralphconnor.ca/right-relations/ 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.
Accessibility: From mid-February to the end of May 2023, our Canmore building had extensive accessibility upgrades. Our new elevator/lift is now operational, providing access to all three levels of the building (Main Floor/Gordon Hall, Sanctuary, and upstairs). Our single-user washrooms are gender non-specific, and one washroom on the main floor is fully accessible. The “courtyard” entrance now has automatic door openers, as does the door between the sanctuary and the hall.
In Banff, ground-level access to the Sanctuary, office and playschool is offered from the alley through the back/office door. Ground-level access to the Thrift shop is offered from Banff Avenue. A gender non-specific washroom is available opposite the playschool. At present, the only access between the lower level (Thrift shop) and the main level (Sanctuary) is via two staircases.
Affordability: We also note, that one of the ways that people often feel excluded in the Bow Valley, is economic exclusion: this is an expensive place to live! Rundle Thrift Shop in Banff is an outreach Ministry of our Community of Faith, and is an excellent place to access low cost second hand goods. In addition, we offer links to the Bow Valley affordability guide pamphlet, and a PDF list of food security resources.
If you have experienced any barriers to your participation in Church life, please contact us so we can discuss ways that we can “open the doors” at Ralph Connor, in Banff or Canmore!!
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With the amalgamation of the Banff and Canmore congregations into a new Community of Faith, the Affirming Ministry Plan from Banff has now been adopted by the Community of Faith.
Previously, the AFFIRMING MINISTRY PLAN (2019) of Ralph Connor Memorial United Church stated:
In addition to the many Outreach initiatives already supported by RCMUC,
- 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 Canada chapter in the Bow Valley (originally known as “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,” now just “PFLAG Canada”).
- 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.