A Prayer from Affirm United in response to recent hate crimes at various United Church of Canada ministries:
Loving and Affirming Parent,
You are ever merciful and we cling to the promise that you are never far from those who are suffering.
We find ourselves in a time of great sorrow and grief. We are unsure of how to move through your world when hate filled words and actions are being hurled against your Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ children, while many others stand silently by.
Today we pray especially for
– Scarboro United Church in Calgary, Alberta,
– St. Luke’s United Church, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia,
– First United Church in Fort Saskatchewan, AB,
– Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, ON, and
– St. Andrew’s United Church in Hamilton, ON.
We lament every time we choose to be inhumane to each other
and when we notice it in ourselves.
We cry every time someone decides to dehumanize us
based on who we choose to love or how we exist in the world.
We feel helpless every time someone works against the freedom we’ve been given
to openly live into who we are meant to be.
We grow weary each time another chooses to chip away at our dignity
by using racist, homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, ableist, and other harmful behaviours
We lament the numbness many of us feel as we are desensitized to hateful acts.
We sit in sorrow and weep for those harmed by the sin of exclusion and hatred.
How long O Creator of diversity, must we feel this way?
We pray for the gift of tears that moves us beyond sadness.
We pray for all of our 2SLGBTQIA+ siblings.
We pray for Indigenous, Metis, First Nation, and Inuit bodies.
We pray for all those who face the lived reality of racism.
We pray O God, that you would offer us signs of hope in our local communities and beyond.
Help us to remember that you love us unconditionally even when there are people who blatantly choose not to love us.
Each time one of us suffers we all suffer for we are all your children.
Each time that one of us helps another we are helping all of your children.
Holy One, remind us that we are fully capable of realizing your kin-dom on earth.
May justice surpass our understanding and live in our spirits
May new people rise to speak & profess so others can rest
Help us to stand with those deemed the least of us,
as we work to change the story of humanity’s exclusion of queerness
and steadily work to create your Kin-dom on earth.
Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble grieves the news of multiple hateful attacks on our communities of faith that are working to live into their present or pending Affirming Status.
We pray for St. Andrew’s United Church in Hamilton ON, who had racist stickers placed on their church sign.
We pray for the community of First United Church in Fort Saskatchewan, AB who had their Pride flag stolen.
We pray for Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, ON who had vandalism using homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti.
We pray for St. Luke’s United Church in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia, whose Pride flag was torn down and a stone thrown through the glass door of the church building.
We pray for Scarboro United Church in Calgary, Alberta, who had their Pride banner damaged by cuts and burn marks along with the word “repent” written in black marker.
We at Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble aim to Educate, provide Action and Support people of all sexual orientations and genders, and sexes in finding support and community within The United Church of Canada. We encourage all communities of faith to become PIE: Public, Intentional and Explicit. This means being Public: Being out and proud! Using symbols, signs and words which are echoed outside and inside the church building, in all facets of church life; Intentional: An Affirming ministry is deliberate in their process of study, education and dialogue with members of their faith community. They ensure that the history of oppression and discrimination by the Church is both understood and acknowledged, and that continued growth, education, and celebration are part of its ministry; and Explicit: An Affirming ministry is very clear about who it welcomes. It names queer, trans, and Two Spirit people and the gifts they are.
We understand that being PIE can be difficult. But we take solace in the messages that came after these hateful attacks – at St. Luke’s where the Pride flag was torn, Rev. Rick Gunn said in a statement on facebook “We may never know what was going through this man’s head or heart. Tearing down a Pride flag is a message all on its own, however.” Rev. Gunn encouraged his community of faith to pray for the perpetrator.
Similarly, at Scarboro United, where their banner was damaged by cuts and burn marks, Rev. Erin Klassen said, “This most recent experience is an important reminder that being an Affirming Congregation, an Affirming Region, an Affirming Denomination, an Affirming Society, does not happen by accident and should not be taken for granted. It requires intention, discernment, agency, and action.”
We pray for these communities of faith and stand in solidarity with our siblings in the LGBTQQIA+ and Two Spirit communities that continue to be the target of hate crimes. We remember and proclaim our commitment to working for justice and inclusion for all. We will continue to strive for peace and equity for all people through our daily actions in church and community.