Huron Shores United Church formally announces status as affirming church
The Affirming Team at Huron Shores United Church in Grand Bend is preparing for a celebration as they promote the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to join them in worship and church activities. On the team are, in the front row from left: Betsy Hanes, Rev. Dr. Kate Crawford, Janice Sinker and Blanche Savage. In the back, from left: Mary Alderson, David Kai and Wilma Harris. Absent from the photo are Marly Brown and Paula Wallis. (Handout)
The United Church in Grand Bend has become an “affirming church”, and on Tuesday announced its commitment to promote the inclusion of people no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We know that many outside the United Church will not know what ‘affirming’ means,” Rev. Dr. Kate Crawford of Huron Shores United Church said. “It is a special designation which we receive if we have done particular things in preparation to say that we will gladly welcome people of all sexual orientations into our community.”
She said anyone looking for a loving and welcoming church home can come to Huron Shores.
While most churches in Canada define themselves as welcoming to all people, Crawford said that isn’t necessarily the case. By becoming an affirming church, she said members of the LGBTQI community can know they are walking into a safe space at Huron Shores United Church.
And while churches have historically been known to condemn and judge members of the LGBTQI community, Crawford said Huron Shores is joining a movement that declares this movement to be wrong.
“We have come to understand that the Bible can be interpreted in many ways,” she said.
Huron Shores will be formally recognized by an organization, Affirm United, on Sept. 24. To get to that point, the church’s congregation has been going through a process of reflection, inviting guest speakers and encouraging discussion and sharing of personal stories, Crawford said.
Blanche Savage is chair of the church’s Affirm team. She said church members will then vote to make a formal commitment to the cause.
Savage said 187 United Church congregations have so far made the decision to affirm; of those, 77 are in Ontario. So far this year, 26 congregations in Canada have joined the movement.
“I am just delighted to be welcoming the wider community in Grand Bend, and from churches in our area to this celebration,” Crawford said. “It has taken much work on the part of the Affirming team members, and a leap of faith for the congregation, but we are ready to celebrate this historic moment.”