The Canadian Unitarian Council’s new vision statement includes the aspiration of our being/becoming “radically welcoming.” For years, this aspiration has been at the core of our efforts to become more inclusive and accepting of all people who seek to share our values. We have made tremendous progress in so many ways, and yet there is, as always, work still to be done. For us, as a congregation, some of that remaining work is in the area of becoming more intentionally welcoming of people across the spectra of gender identity and expression.
Following the direction of our own Diversity Working Group, we are in the process of updating the signage for our washrooms on the ground level and the second floor to reflect our intention to welcome all people. The downstairs washrooms will have signs that indicate we welcome people of all genders and that people are encouraged to use whichever washroom they choose. The upstairs single-stall washrooms will have signage more clearly indicating they are all-gender washrooms. I am hopeful this will be a step toward giving meaningful substance to our intentions to be a fully welcoming congregation.
To support this shift—and to hopefully educate and empower us all to be more vocal allies beyond our walls, especially as Bill C-16 makes its way through Parliament—I will be delivering a somewhat updated version of the sermon I preached two years ago about gender identity and expression. This is the first time I've returned to a sermon in this way, but I believe this sermon bears repeating at this time, given that our country as a whole is moving toward a more progressive embrace of people of all gender identities and expressions. There will be fall-out and resistance to these changes, so there will be a need for well-informed allies to help usher in these changes.
Following the service on Sunday, we will honour the upcoming International Day of Peace by gathering outside at our Peace Pole at noon to lift up our hopes and prayers for peace in our world. This year, our Peace Pole will be adorned with 2,000 paper cranes to give physical expression to our hopes.
Finally, as I mentioned last Sunday in announcing our Congregational Meeting on September 25th, this is the moment to plug in to the conversation about our future real estate/building options. As things change dramatically in the neighbourhood around us, opportunities are beginning to emerge that did not exist even a couple of years ago. I hope you’ll plan to attend the meeting a week from Sunday, and I encourage you to review the documents included in this edition of First Light to help you understand our present and evolving situations.
In faith and love,