Beaconsfield United Church has declared itself Affirming.
We understand the power of prejudice to hurt, and we explicitly invite those who feel alone and compromised by the pressures of ignorance and incivility to visit us. Beaconsfield United Church is, within the United Church of Canada, an Affirming congregation; that is, we have unanimously and officially moved to welcome membership, participation and engagements with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered members of our community.
Beaconsfield United Church:
Living out our Affirming Ministry
Submitted by: The Reverend Shaun E. Fryday
On May 15, 2011 we declared ourselves an Affirming Congregation and we have been actively living out that declaration over the past four years. Our intentional welcome of LGBTQ people has two explicit ministries: the LGBTQ Youth Centre which was officially launched in conjunction with our Affirming declaration; followed by the opening of the West Island Rainbow Seniors Program which came into fruition in September of 2013. These centres provide drop-in activities, advocacy, safety, social outings, and support services.
For our LGBTQ Youth Centre, in 2014 these included:
Gay Prom: On May 24 of 2014, the LGBTQ youth centre hosted the first annual and only Gay Prom for the West Island of Montreal (a demographic of over 45,000 youth). Community ministry was at its best in this moment. Watching same-sex partners walk up the church sidewalk, after having their parents take their photo, and into the fabulously decorated hall, was spectacular. To add to the joy, was the fact that the youth, of their own volition, invited the LGBTQ Seniors and Adults to join them for Prom. Why did they do this…because they wanted them to have the Prom experience that they were denied. Now that is truly intergenerational ministry at its best!
Winter & Summer Camping: An opportunity for over 30 queer-identified youth, staff and volunteers to spend a weekend, in winter and summer, sharing an exclusively LGBTQ camp experience. Close to home, it was not cost prohibitive, giving the youth a chance to step away from navigating adolescence in a heteronormative environment and into a freeing and affirming one.
Gay-Straight Alliance Event: In our ongoing effort to ensure safety for LGBTQ youth, we work closely with 8 of our local high schools developing and offering support to GSA development. By working in partnership with the schools, we are able to create allies for life, while meeting the needs of all queer youth, and in particular, those who are struggling with their identity.
Workshops on homophobia, biphobia and transphobia: In addition to attending school events and high school sexuality fairs, our director, board members and volunteers provided numerous workshops specifically addressing the phobias facing those we serve. Not only do these workshops provide education to the students, it is a great way to teach the teachers while also letting all students know who we are, and what services we provide. We have yet to go to a school without making new connections with queer-identified youth.
Parents Group: Parents of LGBTQ youth are invited to gather together on a monthly basis for support, education, and celebration of their queer-identified children. Parents have children of varied ages, some attending to address their own fears and misconceptions, while others lend a hand and share their experiences.
For our West Island Rainbow Seniors Centre in 2014 we offered:
Weekly Drop-In times: Our regular drop-ins are an opportunity for LGBTQ seniors (50+) to stop by, have lunch, play games, or sometimes simply sit and chat. Drop-In gives us an opportunity to ‘check in’ with this vulnerable sector including issues surrounding isolation, sustainable food issues and health.
Bi-weekly BBQ: With the generous donation of one of our members, we continue to hold biweekly BBQ’s for those identifying under the LGBTQ umbrella. In the spring and again in the fall of 2014, an invitation was extended so that our youth, adult and senior LGBTQ community all joined together! Sharing stories and Queer history across the generations creates new memories for our seniors, and helps guide our youth into the future.
Residential Advocacy: Having to go back into the closet is a struggle our LGBTQ seniors are facing on a regular basis. We have begun the process of meeting with various levels of residential care facilities and engaging in intentional dialogue on behalf of our LGBTQ seniors. Workshops for staff, residents, and activities following the GSA model for High Schools are an important piece of this work. It is a beginning that will foster community and care with dignity.
We continue to seek a variety of funding sources, and we would be remiss if we did not thank our financial partners who have allowed us to move forward in our Affirming ministry. In 2014 we received 35,000, the second of three years of funding from the Good Samaritan Fund of the United Church of Canada Foundation for our West Island Rainbow Seniors. 2015 we were granted 47,000 for our final year of funding through the GSF. We also received 15,000 from the National Bank for the LGBTQ Youth Centre and another 8000 in 2015. The Erskine & American Fund of the Montreal Presbytery generously provided 8,000 in funding for our youth and we were awarded the Flourishing Ministries grant in April which will provide revenue of 25,000 per year for each of three years. Locally, the West Island Community Shares program welcomed us to their funding family with a grant of 5,000 which will be a continued source of funding for the youth centre.
You are invited to join us for our 4th Annual LGBTQ Youth Centre Gala Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday, November 7th. The Hall of the church is transformed into a spectacular venue where we celebrate the youth we serve while raising funds for the centre. This year our theme is “Celebrating our Heroes”. If you are in the Montreal area that week, please join us as we hear the stories of the youth and celebrate their heroes while enjoying a fabulous dinner. Tickets are $100 per person ($80 tax receipt). For information and to reserve your tickets please call (514) 794-LGBT (5428) or visit our church website and follow the link: www.beaconsfieldunitedchurch.com
Beaconsfield United Church
202 Woodside Road
Beaconsfield, Québec H9W 2P1