Guest post by Leo Yu.
Recently, after many years of searching for a progressive church community to call home, I was officially welcomed as a member of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United in Vancouver, BC, alongside four lovely individuals. Given my passion for social and climate justice, it was a particularly appropriate service for me because of the topics discussed in Rev. Dan Chambers’ sermon titled “The Pope, the Dutch and the New World Order.”
Dan didn’t pull any punches today. His point was very simple: the Canadian government has failed miserably to make meaningful progress to fight climate change. The current global economic system based on greed and consumerism is broken, and people from the least developed countries suffer the worst consequences. Like the Pope’s encyclical and ensuing fight, and the Dutch citizens who successfully sued the government for climate inaction, we all need to work together to avoid catastrophic climate change and to stop the massive loss of human life and dignity.
I thought it couldn’t get any better until Dan also announced that our congregation, St. Andrew’s-Wesley United, successfully voted to become a United Church Affirming Ministry, which declares itself to be fully inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities—and to back up their words with action. And this, Dan points out, is right on the heels of the recent US Supreme Court decision affirming that “love is love” with their ruling to recognize same-sex marriage in every state.
It doesn’t end there. We were serenaded with music by the Sanctuary Choir and Darryl Nixon on grand piano. Songs included lesser known pop culture hits “Locus Iste” and “Beati Quorum Via”, but also an amazing rendition of “Heal The World” by the King of Pop.
I thought to myself, “it’s a miracle!”, as I was an all-out Michael Jackson fan as a child (and teenager, admittedly). How did Darryl know? “…but for the grace of God”.
Afterwards at a beautiful reception to celebrate our decision to become an Affirming Ministry, I was greeted by streams of church members with smiles, hand shakes and hugs. I felt incredibly blessed to have finally found this loving faith community.
I was in church heaven.
Four Affirmations of St.Andrew’s-Wesley United:
- WE ARE PASSIONATE Our faith touches our hearts as well as our heads, and makes a real difference in how we live; we seek to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
- WE ARE INCLUSIVE There is room for everyone in this community; No one is excluded. God keeps challenging us to stretch our boundaries; to see people the way God sees them, and to offer acceptance and hospitality. We strive to accept each other as we are and welcome the ministry and participation of all persons inclusive of Age, Gender-identity, Gender Expression, Health, Race, Sexual Orientation, Differing Abilities, Religious or Ethnic Background or Economic Circumstance.
- WE ARE PROGRESSIVE We live out of a theological vision that encourages fresh ways of understanding the Christian story; where the Bible is taken seriously, but not literally; where questions and commitments are intertwined; where you do not have to park your mind at the door of the church; where we seek to be in a dialogue with our culture and science.
- WE ARE COMMITTED TO JUSTICE Our faith inspires us to work for change – in the community and in the world – living and doing the work of compassion, peace and justice.
Leo Yu is an ethnic-Chinese, fourth-generation Canadian, and the first-generation in his family to be born and raised in (Vancouver) Canada. Leo enjoys volunteering and consulting at social change organizations because of the incredibly talented and loving people he gets to meet regularly. He hopes to connect with some of you in person and online at about.me/yuleow.