About Diversity in the United Church of Canada

A story of God’s diversity within The United Church of Canada is about the growing awareness of the unique way that each of us has been created. Found in every community of faith across the country, across regions and cultures, is a rich diversity of gender, romantic and sexual expressions and identities, that we celebrate in a broad array bisexual, gay, heterosexual, intersex, lesbian, transgender, transexual and Two-Spirit ways of finding loving companionship. Other parts of our selves such as our place of residence and language, the colour of our skin and quality of our hair, culture and cultural heritage, history, our immigration status and our relative wealth make each of us unique in how we live and relate within our communities of faith and our world!

In this project, the Spirit has guided us, step by step, following the Way toward mutually transformative friendship as we are lead toward greater knowledge and acceptance of ourselves and other as ones loved, valued and welcomed by God!

 
THE GENERAL COUNCIL 42 MOTION

At General Council 42 the church voted to support a national project of story-sharing with people affected by the Church’s 1988 decision — when the church declared that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are welcome as full members and all members are eligible to be considered for ordered ministry. These stories would then help the church to discern if, and how, it might live into a possible apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and Two-Spirit people (LGBTQ2). 

 

You are invited to contribute your experiences and perspectives, and add to the discussion. Visit our Stories Page or Contact Page for information on how to contribute.

 
GOALS OF THE PROJECT

Stated simply: The goal of this Project is to collect stories.

 

Specifically, we are seeking to know: 

  • your story or stories of your experiences and perspectives of being a trans, bisexual, 2-Spirit, lesbian, gay, queer (or another gender or sexual identity or expression not mentioned here) within the United Church

  • your story or stories of your experiences of being a friend, family member, minister, community member or another kind of ally to an LGBTQ or 2-Spirit person within the United Church

  • your story or stories of your experiences before from Church formation in 1925 up until the 1988 Decision

  • your stories of the time around the 1988 Decision and in the decade known as "The Issue Years" (1988-1998)

  • your stories of your experience from 1998 to today…

  • …in all the ways you encounter "church", for example, through national church policy, through members of your church or community of faith, through dialogue with your minister, through meetings or volunteer work, at your summer camp, etc.

 
ABOUT THE PROJECT NAME

The full name of this work is Iridesce: The Living Apology Project.

Iridesce, (verb) def. The word iridesce expresses a vision of infusing the colours of the rainbow flag with the love and light of God… into iridescent colours that seem to transform when seen from different perspectives. 

definition.

Original name: "The Living Apology Project"

At General Council 42, the Church voted to have a national project originally named “The Living Apology Project”. This motion called for story-sharing and dialogue to gather a collection of stories and artifacts from people affected by the Church’s 1988 decision. These stories would then help the church to discern if, and how, it might live into a possible apology to the church’s LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people.

 

To avoid confusion with other apologies, this work was renamed
"Iridesce: The Living Apology Project" to better communicate its distinct focus and inspiration.

 
ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIPS
OF THIS PROJECT

Iridesce: The Living Apology Project is a joint project of Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble and The United Church of Canada. It is funded by Mission & Service.

 

Our Project Coordinator works directly with individuals, lay people, communities of faith, ministers, Conferences, Presbyteries, Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble and the General Council office.

 

Please visit our Contact page to be in touch.

Iridesce is called to be…

…a faith-filled, collaborative journey that is whole-church oriented, engaging with people of diverse genders and sexual identities and expressions, that is not just geared toward LGBTQ and 2-Spirit folks but that all members, adherents, friends and visitors of the United Church, with intentional focus on the intersectionalities of our lives, and with special orientation toward those at the margins of our communities including trans people, people of colour and people in rural areas.

 
PARTNERING WITH CONFERENCES

Iridesce seeks to partner and collaborate with each Conference of our church. Together we will create day or weekend events in your region. Events will focus on storysharing about people’s experiences before 1988, during “The Issue Years”, up to today… in ways that are relevant to the history, culture and needs of your Conference or Circle. Of course, people are welcome to share their stories outside of organized events, too. Events are meant to be a way to facilitate sharing and listening. Contact us to help organize an event in your Conference or community of faith.

 
 
ABOUT THE PROJECT COODINATOR

Iridesce has one partial-time paid Coordinator. Aaron has a background in creative communication and is also a theology student based out of Montreal. Aaron is a lay person and an inquirer of our church, following a call to ministry. The Coordinator can be reached at livingapology@gmail.com

DIVERSITY OF THIS PROJECT

Iridesce acknowledges that we need to start somewhere, to move forward and to be ready to change course as we hear new voices. So far, the team contributing to Iridesce has been mostly white, middle-age people of European descent. This Project is lead by our Coordinator who is a woman, first-generation Canadian of European origins, university educated and of middle-class background.  

Given our location and the church's history, here are the ways that we are orienting the Project to include diverse voices. We acknowledge our cultural norms of invitation (cis, white, able-bodied) as we do this Project. We will intentionally reach out to ensure that people who experience racism, transphobia, colonial oppression, ableism, and so on, are invited to participate and shape this Project. To do so we will use networks, we will work with regional communities of faith and adapt the Project to local histories, cultures and needs, and we will engage through personal invitation.

 
Environmental Commitment OF THIS PROJECT

In September 2017, our Moderator Jordan Cantwell endorsed the Canadian Council of Churches' statement "On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada":

 

"In our day, the causes and effects of global climate change are
becoming more and more visible. […] This most serious development
is caused mainly by humans removing forests and burning fossil fuels, namely oil and gas… causing the precious and unique environment
for life on Earth to fall into serious disrepair."

In response, Iridesce: The Living Apology Project commits to the following actions:

  • Materials: create, print and store paper materials with care in order to be reused; reduce overall printed materials required for the project; and, opt for recyclable and biodegradable materials, as possible.

  • Travel: opt for train travel, bus and car-pooling to reduce burning fossil fuels; travel strategically to minimize air travel; take public transit when possible; avoid hotel stays; opt for repurposed, upcycled materials instead of buying new to reduce burning fossil fuels in shipping, as possible.

It is our hope that these mindful actions will help Iridesce "act as a good neighbour [toward] natural and human communities". For more inspiration please visit the United Church, here

 
What does "1988" and
The 1988 Decision refer to? 

The 1988 General Council approved a historic motion that:

 

“all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, who profess their faith in Jesus Christ are welcome to be or become members of The United Church of Canada" and "all members of the United Church are eligible to be considered for ordered ministry".

To paraphrase: The "1988 Decision" The United Church of Canada did  something  historic when it welcomed gay and lesbian (and, a little later)  bisexual, trans and 2-Spirit people into full participation in the Church, including participation in ordered ministry. To learn more, please visit our History page (coming soon). 

 
What DOES the issue years 
refer to?

Briefly, "The Issue Years" refers to the 10 year period after the 1988 Decision. This decade of our church is marked by celebration, dissent, discussion and debate following the historic 1988 decision. To learn more, please visit our History page (coming soon). 

 
 
FAQ about stories

Who is invited to contribute? And how?

IRIDESCE invites the whole-church to participate… that means folks associated with the United Church in some way in the past, present and future.

How to contribute?

To contribute your perspective or experience: write, make a video, draw, paint, collage, collect artifacts… it’s up to you. Email your contribution to livingapology@gmail.com along with this consent formStories can be as anonymous (or not) as you prefer, and will never be shared without your clear consent.

Is there a consent form? (NEW)

Yes, contributions should be accompanied by a consent form. Click here to download the consent form: PDF file (44K), or .docx file (9K).

How will my story by shared or distributed?

Stories may be shared on this website, our partner websites (Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble and/or the United Church), on our social media sites, and as part of a presentation/printed document to be shared at General Council 43 of the United Church of Canada, in Summer of 2018. Only stories with consent from the author/creator will be shared.

Please note that all stories and contributions have been collected for the
purpose of this Project only. If you are interested in using this material,
please contact the Project Coordinator at livingapology@gmail.com

Can my contribution be anonymous?

Yes, your contribution can be anonymous. Names and other details can be changed to respect privacy.

Are you only looking for negative stories? 
Can I share my positive experiences too? 

Yes, all contributions are welcome that speak to the experiences of people in the United Church around topics of gender and sexuality. This includes allies, friends, family and church family of LGBTQ2+ people. This also includes people who do not consider themselves allies. 

QUESTIONS? 

Please email us with your questions or comments. This page is in progress. Please visit again as this page evolves. Thank you.

 
IRIDESCE: THE LIVING APOLOGY PROJECT
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