FOREST HILL UNITED CHURCH has always identified with the
United Church vision of inclusiveness; that all are welcome regardless of age,
race, class, gender or physical ability. In 1982, a group was formed called
Affirm whose mission was to strengthen that vision by advocating within the
United Church for full inclusion of gay and lesbian members. Later, Affirm
would join with other groups to become Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble.
This new organization further expanded the Affirm vision to include people of
all identities. Forest Hill began the process of joining Affirm United / S’afffirmer
Ensemble and becoming an affirming congregation in 2015. What follows below is
the story of that journey; a journey that continues today and into the future.
ROAD TO AFFIRMING 2015-16
Fall of 2015 - An Affirm Working Group is formed from interested members of the Congregation. The group plans to meet and communicate regularly, both with each other and contacts in the United Church national Affirm office throughout the journey.
October 2015 - A movie night is held, featuring the movie “For the Bible Tells Me So”.
Early 2016 - The group leads a
Sunday Service to communicate plans to congregation, with the service including
rainbow candles as an emblem of the LGBTQ+ community. Rev Dr. Priscilla Geisterfer is welcomed as guest
preacher, followed by a Question and Answer session after the service.
March 2016 - A Bible Study evening is held, led by Rev Brett Anningson on the topic of “The Bible and Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”.
Spring 2016 - Members of the
Senior Sunday School create a beautiful banner in support of Affirm.
May 29, 2016 - The group conducts a Sunday service that includes the presentation of a background letter and questionnaire relating to Affirm United and specifically to Forest Hill United. A confidential questionnaire box for individuals’ responses was provided.
Throughout the Fall 2016 - The group works on updates to the Forest Hill Vision Statement and website welcoming message:
Forest Hill United Church is a safe place to gather regardless of race, creed,
age, cultural background, family status, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Our mission is to live by the teaching and example of Jesus Christ as a
visible and vital community in Christian worship, fellowship and service.
All are welcome here!
The Marriage Policy and designs for All Gender Washroom signs are reviewed and two signs ultimately ordered.
October 2016 - The group once again leads a Sunday Service, and makes available a summary of the responses to the May questionnaire, a copy of the group’s Action Plan going forward, and some LGBQ+ definitions.
November 13, 2016 Service - We welcome Elizabeth Savoie who speaks about her personal experience and that of Wilmot United Church in their journey to becoming an Affirming ministry. Her sermon, “Safe Spaces” is available here.
VOTING DAY, December 4, 2016 - All members of Forest Hill United Church are invited to vote at the end of the service in a secret ballot. The motion for Forest Hill United Church to officially become an Affirming congregation is passed meeting the minimum of 75% in favour!
Plans are made for an April 23rd Celebration Event. A poster is created to advertise this event. A bulletin cover is designed using the rainbow dove.
Tony Burnett, member of Affirm United and Wilmot United Church, presents the official certificate on behalf of Affirm United / S'affirmer Ensemble. Forest Hill United Church Board Chair Jula Hughes brings greetings from other individuals and ministries.
There is participation by the choir, Sunday School members of all ages, Alex Good (our Music Director) and members of the congregation.
We also had a celebration CAKE!
WE LOVE A PARADE - SUMMER 2017
A poster suitable for a wall hanging or for carrying in a parade is created with artwork donated by Rebecka Cole, a young graphic artist who was formerly a member of Forest Hill's Sunday School in the late 1990s.
August 13, 2017 - Seven members of the congregation proudly march with our new banner in the Fredericton Pride Parade.