INTERVIEW WITH IRIDESCE
1988. For some in the United Church the mention of this date is enough to silence a room, but for others it is the beginning of new conversations around acknowledgement and lament, apology and reconciliation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and 2-Spirit (LGBTQ2) people.
Together the Church has indicated that now is a good time to reflect and talk about what happened in the years leading up to (and following) the landmark 1988 vote that affirmed sexual orientation is not a barrier to full participation including ministry in our church.
“Our decision was pivotal in the history of our church,” commented the Project Coordinator of Iridesce: The Living Apology Project. “The Issue Years changed lives. Our decision changed the world.” At General Council 42 (2015), the church voted to support this national project to begin the conversation as part of our living apology, healing and reconciliation with LGBTQ2 people.
Maureen (not her real name) remembers: “One of my longest standing friends, and her family, left a congregation and official board work because they could not stand the level of discourse from other board members and the minister at the time against the United Church decision… The tone that they heard coming from [church leadership] led them away from any sense of ‘Christian fellowship’ … the pain was real for the family and the reason for leaving was not discussed in the congregation even though the leadership was fully aware of the cause.”
“We’ve been silent for so long about this time in our history. As people of faith, with the Spirit of love and justice as our constant companion, why don’t we face our fears and begin talking about what happened. It must be an awful to hold on to all these memories,” the coordinator reflected. “I’ve been listening to people from across the country, and time and again I hear about the fear of our future. I believe acknowledging our past and repenting of our history of exclusion and hurt, will be monumentally healing for everyone and may very well allow us to move forward into the church God wants us to be.”
The Iridesce Project is accepting written, audio and video sharing from everyone, whether LGBTQ2, family, friend or ally. These will be shared at the next General Council in 2018. To participate and to learn more visit iridesce.ca.
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