Following a period of study and reflection our congregation became an affirming congregation, Sunday, June 8, 2008. Our affirming statement is as follows:
We declare that Symons Valley United Church is an Open and Affirming congregation
We believe that all people are sacred in the eyes of God, welcome at God’s table, and entitled to full and equal participation in the life of the church.
We recognize that congregations have historically condemned and excluded some persons and groups of persons through active effort or complicit silence.
In response to our understanding of Christ’s invitation to the table, we declare that we will continue our struggle to be open and affirming of all, regardless of sexual orientation, family composition, age, ethnic, cultural or spiritual background, gender identity, physical or mental capabilities, and we will work to show our understanding of the Realm of God as a place of diversity and justice by our actions and our witness to the world.
THE AFFIRM COMMITTEE PURPOSE
To support the congregation in carrying out the Symons Valley United Church’s Mission and Affirm Statements of accepting all people in an intentional way.
1. To maintain and develop a library of background material on Affirm United’s program, educational videos, and publications to groups and individual within the church.
2. To engage in advocacy and awareness training within the congregation regarding issues relative to being an Affirming Congregation.
3. Establish support groups and networks within the congregation for GLBT persons.
4. To network, support and share with other congregations working on inclusivity issues
5. Maintain a display table of resources available through the committee.
6. To move towered a full inclusion of other marginalized individuals and groups.
THE CHARTER OF COMPASSION:
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
The Board has been studying Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life since October 2014. A Visioning Working Group was created to discern how the congregation could be actively engaged in being compassionate in our world. One activity has been to commit to making sandwiches for Calgary’s Drop-In Shelter each Communion Sunday. The congregation makes approximately 400 sandwiches each month.
Now that the congregation has signed The Charter, the question is, ‘what are we going to do to uphold our commitment to a more compassionate world?’