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Affirming Ministry

Quick links to sections on this page
Affirming Conversations | ResourcesCSRC Affirming Statement  | Resource Team  |  Staff Support

Affirming Conversations

Why is it Important to Become Affirming?

Canadian Shield and Shining Waters Regional Councils recently held an  Affirming Conversations Zoom gathering, where we discussed how to equip and empower people to lead their congregation towards becoming an affirming ministry. This zoom gathering was open to all communities of faith who are interested in becoming Affirming or who had questions. Several guest speakers shared with us why it is important for them that there are safe spaces. Special guest speaker Linda Hutchinson, Affirming Ministry Program Coordinator from Affirm United, was on hand to explain the process of becoming an Affirming community of faith within the United Church of Canada.

Linda’s PowerPoint Presentation – [ PDF – 20 pages ]

Affirm United / S’affirmer Ensemble Website


Affirming Communities

AFFIRM UNITED OPEN HEARTS DOCUMENT  By Alyson C. Huntly, in conjunction with the Affirming Ministries Program Coordinators. This is a resource for and about Affirming Ministries, includes information and resources on the affirming process as well as ideas to help congregations continue to grow. Includes a very full listing of additional resources. [PDF| 95 pages | 2017]

AFFIRMING MINISTRY REQUIREMENTS From Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble describes the components required in the affirming process. [2016]

SMALL TOWN, BIG IMPACT: Stories and strategies from the Affirming Journey A new video series from Affirming Connections that invites Affirming leaders from smaller rural communities to share their Affirming journeys.  Watch the playlist on their YouTube Channel.  [2022]

Calendar Moments

Trans Experience and Gender Diversity

CELEBRATING GENDER DIVERSITY: A toolkit on Gender Identity and Trans Experiences for Communities of Faith
A resource to help communities of faith explore gender identity and deepen their understanding of gender and the integral role it plays in creating welcoming and affirming communities. Includes plans to create a gender-inclusive washroom policy, workshop modules, handouts and a glossary of key terms and concepts. Download this PDF.  [PDF | 87 pages | 2019]  Link to United in Learning webinar on animating this resource.

CREATING AUTHENTIC SPACES: A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit
From the 519 Community Centre in Toronto, a  part of their efforts to challenge transphobia and to foster environments that are inclusive of gender identity and gender expression. The kit includes a set of infographics that can be downloaded on pronouns, allies, creating a welcoming environment and more. Download the kit.

A listing compiled by The United Church of Canada. [PDF | 12 pages]

Ruth Wood talks about her life journey as a trans person and her theological reflection on love and acceptance [YouTube Video | 6:44 |  2012]

LGBTQI2S Inclusion

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SPONSOSPONSORING AN LGBTIQ2+ REFUGEE AN LGBTIQ2+ REFUGEE  Questions about LGBTIQ2+ Refugee Sponsorship For United Church of Canada Communities of Faith [PDF | Nov. 2018 | 2 pages]GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS A variety of resources from the Unitarian Universalists on making washrooms safe spaces, including suggestions for signage.

LGBT RESOURCES PAGE on The United Church of Christ website, our partner denomination in the United States.

OUR WHOLE LIVES  A curriculum of life span sexuality education programs from the Unitarian Universalists.

QUEER THEOLOGY An on-line network including resources, podcasts and opportunites for engagement hosted by Brian G. Murphy and Fr. Shannon TL Kearns.

SONGS FOR THE HOLY OTHER Hymns Affirming the LGBTQIA2S+ Community request a copy from The Hymn Society website.


Doctrine and Policy

MOVING TOWARD FULL INCLUSION: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The United Church of Canada A detailed resource that documents the church’s history intended to enable dialogue with partners and promote respectful sharing. [PDF | 67 pages | 2014]

MARRIAGE: A United Church of Canada Understanding A comprehensive overview of the United Church position on marriage, including same-sex marriage.  Highlights changes in the church position over the years and the current theological understanding of what our church believes about marriage. [PDF | 12 pages | 2005]

THE AUTHORITY AND INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE  Theology and Faith Committee, The General Council of The United Church of Canada [PDF | 49 pages | 1992]  Results of a church-wide study on the authority of scripture.

As an Affirming community, the Canadian Shield Regional Council welcomes, includes, and supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit (LGBTQ+) people in all aspects of the life, work, worship and governance of the church.  We believe that all people are children of God; that persons of all ages, races, abilities, theologies, gender identities, and sexual orientations are part of our increasingly diverse culture; and we include all persons into the full life and ministry of the church.

We aspire for members of the LGBTQ+ community to find the churches and governing bodies in our Regional Council to be safe places to worship and share gifts.

An increasing number of our churches proudly march in Pride Parades each year behind banners proclaiming who we are. Many of our members are also present at community events in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Canadian Shield Regional Council is fully supportive of Affirm United as we strive to continue to be supportive and accepting of all with whom we are in relationship. Please visit their website www.affirmunited.ca to learn more.

Our Regional Council acknowledges that God’s love is wider and more inclusive than we can imagine, let alone live out, and we commit ourselves to sharing that news with others who may have heard a quite different message about what it means to be church. Because voices of condemnation, exclusion, and hatred are loud and persistent within the church and in society, we declare that it is important to be a public witness and to be a role model for other ministries. As a Regional Council, we will work persistently, and encourage our communities of faith, to be safe, accessible, inclusive, and affirming.

Affirming Resource Team

Team Members

  • Peter Haddow (Team Lead)
  • Charles Bolduc
  • Whitney Bruno
  • Ryan Fea
  • Gailand MacQueen
  • Susan Merrier
  • Susan Peverly
  • Marilyn Schatzler
  • Rob Smith (Staff Resource)


The Affirming Resource Team’s work is to guide the Regional Council through the required Affirm United process to be recognized as an Affirming Ministry and to hold the Regional Council to the commitments made in that process.

The team consists of a Team Lead and eight to ten members to be elected by the Regional Council, with intentional recruitment of representation from the LGBTQ2S+ community.


  • Support to Affirming Communities of faith;
  • Support to Communities of faith exploring Affirming Ministry designation;
  • Holding the Regional Council accountable for keeping Safe Space;
  • Encouraging the Regional Council in entering into a process of discernment regarding Affirming Ministry.

Affirming Ministries in The Canadian Shield Regional Council

  • Emmanuel UC – Sault Ste. Marie
  • St. Andrew’s UC – North Bay
  • St. John’s UC – Marathon
  • St. Paul’s UC – Thunder Bay
  • St. Peter’s UC – Sudbury
  • Westminster UC – Thunder Bay

Staff Support

Robert Smith

Robert Smith

Pastoral Relations Minister

Phone: 1-833-236-0281 Ext. 3
Email: rsmith@united-church.ca

Serves in: Canadian Shield Regional Council

Location: Teleworks and works in the Thunder Bay Office.

Role: Rob encourages and supports ministry personnel toward health, joy, and excellence in ministry practice.

Contact Rob about: Conflict Resolution; Finding A New Minister; Licensed Lay Worship Leaders; Licenses To Administer Sacraments; Pastoral Relationships Policy; Resources for Transition Times; Retirement; Sabbaticals; Sick Leave; Short Term Supply Ministers; Visiting Minister Options.

More about Rob...


Celio de Andrade Santos Jr.

Celio de Andrade Santos Jr.

Administrative Support

Phone: 1-833-236-0281
Extension: 8
Email: cdeandrade@united-church.ca

Serves in: Canadian Shield and Shining Waters Regional Councils

Location: Teleworks and works from the Shining Waters Regional Office in Guthrie.

Role: Celio provides administrative support to both Canadian Shield and Shining Waters regional councils.

More about Celio...