1988. Even mentioning this date is enough to silence a room. For others in the United Church it is the beginning of new conversations around acknowledgement and lament, apology and reconciliation with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and 2-Spirit (LGBTQ2) people.
Together in 2015 the church voted to support a national project of story-sharing and dialogue (The Living Apology) indicating that now is a good time to reflect and talk about what happened in the years leading up to (and following) our landmark 1988 vote that affirmed sexual orientation is not a barrier to full participation as members and as ministry personnel.
Our 1988 vote changed lives... and it changed the world! For me, this decision was pivotal in the history of our church, which is why I am proud to be the coordinator of Iridesce: The Living Apology Project - a joint project of Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble and The United Church of Canada.
This story was shared with Iridesce:
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? People share with me how awful it has been to hold on to all these memories. I believe acknowledging our history holds the potential to be healing foreveryone and may very well allow us to move forward into the church God wants us to be.
I invite you to learn more about this historic project of our church, to participate and share, whether you are LGBTQ2, family, friends or allies. Visit iridesce.ca and share the church’s official announcement of the project with your community of faith.
—Aaron Miechkota, Coordinator of Iridesce: The Living Apology Project