© JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN
Reverend Greg Davis, left, of Trinity United Church in Charlottetown and Affirm Committee members, Donald Scott and June Sanderson, recently discussed the church’s move to become an affirming ministry.
The welcome mat at Trinity Unity Church is quite wide — arguably the widest in Prince Edward Island.
The 151-year-old church, located on the corner of Prince and Richmond Streets in Charlottetown, has become home to the first affirming ministry in the province.
A thoughtful, gradual process spanning the past two-and-ahalf years is credited with the smooth establishment of a ministry that specifically declares itself to be fully inclusive of all people regardless of ability, age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race or sexual orientation.
Affirming ministries promote awareness and understanding and work to end discrimination, alienation and ignorance. They are explicitly welcoming around issues of sexuality and gender, and fully supportive of people who are non-heterosexual.
Well over 90 per cent of the Trinity-Clifton Pastoral charged voted in December to become an affirming ministry. Input from the congregation was encouraged every step of the way.
“There hasn’t been much push back because of the process,’’ says Donald Scott, a member of the Affirm Committee. “It requires a buy-in by the community and that has happened.’’
Fellow Affirm Committee member, June Sanderson, is thrilled with the direction her church has taken.
“I felt like this has confirmed for me that I can say that I am Christian with a smile on my face. It’s been very affirming for me and life giving for me ... it’s been an amazing process.” June Sanderson
“I felt like this has confirmed for me that I can say that I am Christian with a smile on my face,’’ she says. “It’s been very affirming for me and life giving for me ... it’s been an amazing process.’’
Rev. Greg Davis says establishing an affirming ministry was a natural evolution for the Trinity-Clifton charge that has a long history of working for justice.
“I am quite proud of the congregation,’’ he says. “It was a risk, but I think it’s a greater risk to not be a voice for justice.’’
Sanderson notes considerable criteria, from vision statement to action plan, must be met to receive the designation of an affirming ministry.
The action plan at Trinity Unity Church includes providing space for groups in the building like PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and providing education sessions to create open, positive, and welcoming environments to address and clarify concerns and questions.
“I would love to see more churches, more communities of faith ... have a voice that is different than the status quo,’’ said Davis.