Green­wood's Af­fir­ma­tion is a big deal

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - FROM THE ED­I­TOR

On a stormy Sun­day night, a strong crowd of sup­port­ers con­vened on Green­wood United Church to not only rec­og­nize, but cel­e­brate the church’s achieve­ment in be­com­ing an Af­firm­ing Min­istry – a church rec­og­nized by the or­ga­ni­za­tion Affirm United as be­ing in­ten­tion­ally open and invit­ing of all peo­ple, re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity.

To be clear, this isn’t just a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that gets filed in a drawer and a box gets checked - the word ‘in­ten­tional’ is ex­plic­itly used to in­di­cate that the church will openly and ac­tively pro­mote it­self as a safe space for those who iden­tify as part of the Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­dered and Queer (LGBTQ) com­mu­nity. In any com­mu­nity, such an in­clu­sive step is im­por­tant. In a com­mu­nity as small as Baddeck, this is an even big­ger deal.

It is a big deal be­cause it marks, with ac­tion, the rad­i­cal shift in at­ti­tude and open­ness that west­ern so­ci­ety has ex­pe­ri­enced to­wards the LGBTQ com­mu­nity in the past decade. And though be­liefs and at­ti­tudes have largely changed for the bet­ter, more work lies ahead in teach­ing the prin­ci­ples of ac­cep­tance, com­pas­sion and in­clu­sion. In the in­terim, safe spa­ces be­come ever-more im­por­tant.

It must have been a big deal for Baddeck-na­tive and for­mer United Min­is­ter-turned-bud­dhist Kim Ma­caulay who re­turned home to de­liver the evening’s ad­dress. She was vo­cally wel­comed from the pews, but also warmly ac­cepted as she re­counted her own chal­lenges through­out her life as a fe­male min­is­ter and one who iden­ti­fies as bi­sex­ual.

It is also a big deal within the wider scope of the fear and ha­tred be­ing spread through pol­i­tics, re­li­gion and profit-driven me­dia to­day. Lo­ca­tions of mass shoot­ings and acts of ter­ror can feel very far away from our is­land, but the chem­istry re­quired to brew such heinous acts can oc­cur any­where. How of­ten do we here sur­vivors of such events com­ment that they never thought it would hap­pen there? Ac­cep­tance, com­pas­sion and in­clu­sion re­quire con­stant ac­tion and ed­u­ca­tion to ex­ist. And to be sure, in­gre­di­ents for kind­ness and com­pas­sion in­clude not only love, but ac­cess to food, shel­ter, em­ploy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the span of this is­sue, our na­tion will com­mem­o­rate the cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary of the Ar­mistice that ended the Great War. That act in 1918 demon­strated that even the dark­est hours can end if the will ex­ists. Our un­end­ing thanks be given to those who gave their life for us to be so free to­day.

As out­pour­ing for vic­tims of Pitts­burgh, Louisville, and Tal­la­has­see have once again demon­strated, we have the ca­pac­ity as a so­ci­ety to show care and com­pas­sion in times of grief. Let us be sure to cel­e­brate our pos­i­tive ac­tions as well. Ac­tions that may very well silently pre­vent the tak­ing of a life in the first place. At the very least, im­prove those who have strug­gled in the mar­gins.

I am not a mem­ber of Green­wood United and was, in fact, rather blasé about ven­tur­ing out into the dark, fall weather this past Sun­day to at­tend the cer­e­mony as an in­vited guest. I am very glad I ven­tured there with my fam­ily. When our com­mu­ni­ties take pro­gres­sive steps, like the ones Green­wood did these past two years, it is im­por­tant that we come to­gether and rec­og­nize the pos­i­tive change, re­gard­less of re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion.

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