Affirming Region

Policy Goals are established to progress the Purpose
Policy Limits are defined that help preserve and defend the Purpose
Working Group and Community of Faith Tools, Processes, and Resources have been designed that progress the Purpose

“Everyone should be affirmed as their full, true and whole selves.”

— Dieulita Datus, Affirming Working Group member

Motion Passed by Chinook Winds Regional Council to become an Affirming Region - May 7, 2022

The Chinook Winds Regional Council Affirming Working Group is leading the Regional Affirming Process. It is discerning with our region what it means to Public, Intentional and Explicit in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQAiP+* community and affirm that all people be included in our ministries and leadership without limitations based on gender identity, expression or sexual orientation.

The Affirming Working Group is engaging communities of faith and their leadership by offering learning opportunities such as the Queer Virtue study, regional town hall Q&As and presentations as well as listening campaigns, and advocacy. We look forward to presenting a motion to the Regional Council’s May 2022 meeting to become an Affirming Region.

The Affirming movement began in 1992. The United Church officially endorsed the program in 2000 and encouraged its ministries to participate.

The program encourages all United Church bodies, and other Christian traditions, to study and discern what it means to be publicly welcoming and inclusive in their context. The Affirming program also encourages the studying of United Church resources that promote the inclusion of other marginalized groups. (Ministries include communities of faith, community ministries, chaplaincies of all kinds, care homes and supported living, outdoor ministries/camps, Regional Councils, and more). There are over 200 Affirming ministries across Canada today.

The Affirming Working Group encourages leadership in our Regional Council to participate in our programming, offer feedback, ask questions, and prepare for the vote in 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

Affirming means that we believe that all gender identities and sexualities are a gift from God and that The United Church of Canada should be a safe and fully welcoming space for 2SLGBTQAiP people to worship and participate fully in.

Educational Sessions Organized by the Regional Affirming Working Group

Lent 2021

A Lenten Study on Liz Edman’s Book, Queer Virture included an online conversation with Rev. Edman.

Town Hall Conversation

April 2021: Former United Church of Canada Moderator Gary Paterson offers a personal and historical United Church perspective on the Affirming journey.

Theological Foundation for Affirmation

With Austen Hartke, April 2021

Affirm Working Group Members


Tracy Robertson (She/Her)

Affirm Working Group Chair
I’m the minister at St. Thomas United Church, an Affirming congregation in NW Calgary, AB. I grew up in Balzac, AB, spent 15 years in the corporate world while volunteering as Youth Leader in rural Alberta. Quit my job to be the Youth and Family Minister at Woodcliff UC, went back to school and became a Diaconal Minister in 2012. I worked as the Chaplain at The Calgary Young Offender Centre for three years and now proudly serve St. Thomas. I am an affirming co-conspirator or ally because, as a leader of the very tradition that caused so much trauma and pain for the LGBTQ2SI+ community, I believe it’s my role to make sure spiritual violence stops and we embrace EVERY child of God with unconditional love, acceptance, and support.

Dieulita Datus (She/Her)

A womanish, unapologetic, proud Black Haitian woman. Dieulita is a self-proclaimed, forever immigrant. She always finds a way to connect with the land on which she finds herself as she is a descendent of generations of Haitian rice farmers. Her communities of faith are St. Andrews United Church, Lacombe and the other communities of faith that she holds dear to her heart. Affirming work is important to her because she believes that everyone should be affirmed as their full, true and whole selves.

Keith Murray (they/them)

A queer faith leader, mystic and transdisciplinary artist - writer, designer, activist, speaker & facilitator. Keith’s work has been recognized and exhibited internationally (including MoMA NYC, and Witte de With, NL). They were the first artist-in-residence at Union Theological Seminary, NYC. Keith currently leads the thriving LGBTQ2SIA+ affirming ministries at Hillhurst United Church, is a Master of Divinity student at Vancouver School of Theology and a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Church of Canada.

Bill Moore (he/him)

The lead of the Affirming Team at Central United in downtown Calgary, a congregation that is exploring becoming an Affirming Ministry. As a member of the Region’s Executive, he also acts as a liaison to the Regions Affirming Working Group.

Darren Liepold (he/him)

Born in Saskatchewan, Darren received his BA from the University of Regina and his MDiv from the Vancouver School of Theology. He was ordained in 1990 and has served in congregational ministry in Ontario, British Columbia, Sydney Australia, and now in Innisfail, Alberta. As a gay man who came out about the same time as the church was making its decision on The Issue, the church’s struggle to become affirming has shaped his ministry in many ways. Darren and his partner Brian have been together 29 years, and are the adoptive parents of Anthony who now lives in Toronto.

Ev (They/Them)

I am the affirming chair for St. Thomas United Church in Calgary, and a current student at Medicine Hat College- taking Child and Youth Care Counseling. Affirming work means so much to me; not only because I'm part of the LGBTQ+ community (being non-binary and pansexual), but also because I like to create a welcoming and safe environment for everyone. I'm always open for a conversation and I love to talk about affirming-related things! Looking forward to speaking with you!

Lawrence Hrycan

Lawrence's hometown is Yellowknife, N.W.T. He received his Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Alberta and his Master’s Degree in Business from the University of Eugene Oregon. Lawrence has been involved with the United Church since he was 6 years old. Currently, he is the Chinook Winds Regional Rep and the Board Chair for the St. Andrew’s United Church in Lacombe, AB. Being and acceptance for who you are has always played an important role in his life.

Pam Rocker (she/her)

Pam Rocker is an atypical activist, consultant, speaker, and musician. From pews to politics, she has worked for over a decade for the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in faith communities and beyond. She is the playwright of heterophobia, was chosen as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary, and as one of the top 30 activists in Canada. She is the former Chair of Broadview Magazine and Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble, and current Host of The Way We storytelling series with WordFest. She is currently the Director of Affirming Connections, a robust Affirming initiative founded in 2019, supported by Chinook Winds Region and St. Andrews Regional Ministries. Affirming work is important to Pam because she knows the power it has to transform people and communities to be expansive and fosters belonging, and how important is to provide a faithful and loving voice that speaks directly against discrimination.
Chris Mah Poy

Chris Mah Poy (he/him)

First-Third Ministry Coordinator, Justice & Networks Support, Chinook Winds Region. Staff Resource to the Affirm Working Group.