The Whitehorse United Church is seen on June 22. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Whitehorse United Church is seen on June 22. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Whitehorse United Church celebrates completion of Affirming Ministry program

Affirming Ministries pledge to include people of all sexual orientations and gender identities

Editor’s note: This story makes a reference to suicide.

On June 18, Whitehorse United Church celebrated its completion of the Affirming Ministry program. It is the first church in the Yukon to become an Affirming Ministry, a title bestowed upon United Church ministries that honour and ally themselves with the LGBTQ2S+ community.

In front of the congregation, a six-colour Pride flag and a light blue-and-pink transgender flag were prominently displayed, and the faithful lit a rainbow assortment of candles. Minister Beverly Brazier and others shared words of inclusion — Biblical in origin and otherwise.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, doesn’t matter who you’ve been, it doesn’t matter what you believe […] you are welcome here. It doesn’t matter who you love, who is in your family,” said Brazier during her sermon.

Members of the LGBTQ2S+ community got behind the pulpit throughout the Sunday service to share their stories. One woman shared how she lost her job with the B.C. Anglican Youth Movement in Vancouver in the late 1970s or early ’80s after she was seen at a gay bar and her sexual orientation was discovered by her employer.

“They tell me that I am not a good role model for youth, and I am immediately let go from my position as a youth worker and asked to pack up my belongings right there and then,” the woman said.

“Thus ended my career with the church, thus ended any connection for me with the church,” she added, noting that she felt the urge to jump off a bridge in the aftermath.

She then explained how she rediscovered faith after volunteering at an accepting and inclusive Christian summer camp in 2019 and began attending church again with Whitehorse United Church.

“I saw a community based on the open-hearted and radical interpretation of Christianity. I am thankful for this and so appreciative of the ministry provided by Whitehorse United.”

Another speaker acknowledged the church’s role in homophobia, transphobia and bigotry.

According to Affirm United’s website, before a ministry can become Affirming, it must undergo an education, discernment and decision process that is public, intentional and explicit.

These ministries “work for justice and inclusion for all people” and publicly pledge “inclusion and justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

The whole Affirming process can take a year or longer.

In a video played to churchgoers on June 18, Affirming Ministry Coordinator Linda Hutchinson congratulated Whitehorse United Church on becoming an Affirming Ministry. She additionally noted that there are more than 300 Affirming Ministries across Canada.

Sunday, June 25, is Brazier’s last day of worship with Whitehorse United Church. Worshippers will participate in communion and a reception with finger foods will follow Brazier’s sermon.

Contact Matthew Bossons at