Greenwood's Affirmation is a big deal
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.