Of all the symbolic items inside St. Aidan’s United Church, there is one attracting the most attention as of late.
A rainbow hangs outside Rev. Michael Caveney’s office door – a symbol of the church’s official public welcome of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
On Sept. 25, St. Aidan’s will celebrate becoming the second United church on Vancouver Island to complete the Affirming Congregation Program under the United Church of Canada. This program studies the issues of inclusion and states that the congregation welcomes all peoples.
The congregation, led by Rev. Caveney went through a year-long educational process based on materials from the United Church of Canada, and voted in favour of becoming an affirming congregation.
“Very often a congregation will say that these are the values, but by going through the process, it’s highlighting,” said Rev. Caveney. “Many congregations say that they are inclusive, and yet, for example, lesbians cannot be fully involved or ordained in those churches.”
The Comox and Salt Spring Island United Churches have also gone through the process.
Laurissa Chapple, media and communications co-ordinator with the Victoria Pride Society calls the move “awesome,” but one that’s been a long time coming.
“As everything in our movement has, it’s taken time and it’s another milestone to certainly celebrate,” Chapple said. “It’s a testament to Canada. It’s a testament to our growth as a movement. It’s certainly not afforded internationally in a lot of places.”
The church, located at 3703 St. Aidan’s St., will host a service marking the occasion at 10 a.m. on Sept. 25. Will Sparks of the Northwood United Church in Surrey, educator in the affirming process, will lead the service.
“For us, it’s almost a public witness that this is what we believe and that everyone is welcomed,” Rev. Caveney said.