Vancouver choir brings gay-positive voice to United Church’s year of affirmation

Enjoy the chorus’s Making Spirits Bright concert Nov. 21 and 22

The Vancouver Men’s Chorus performs at Oak Bay United Church Nov. 21 and 22.

It’s hard to ignore the symbolism of how hosting the Vancouver Men’s Chorus this month fits into the Oak Bay United Church’s vision of a “radically welcoming” congregation.

For 35 years, the Vancouver choir has championed a positive image of the gay community while earning national awards for artistic excellence and original arrangements.

With 80 male voices determined to spread joy and a message of inclusiveness, every concert by the choir does what the United Church of Canada is aiming to do over the next year.

“In terms of leadership, all we can do is express our voice and the more voices we have, the more we will be heard,” said Gordon Miller, communication director for Oak Bay United Church, about embarking on a plan to “affirm” what it means to open its arms to all people, including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

“What we’re inviting people to do is join in the conversation,” Miller said, explaining that at the end of the year the church will have gone through an intentional process of learning how to “walk the walk” and relating to people who are often misunderstood.

“This is who we intend to be – we don’t always get this right – but this is who we intend to be,” he said. “We are seeing more people in the community who are transgendered but we don’t know what questions to ask.”

In September, the church hosted a viewing of the film Call Me Malcolm, about “one man’s struggle with faith, love and gender identity.”

And on Nov. 1, the church hosted Trans 101, a presentation and question period with University of Victoria professor Aaron Devor on issues facing people who identify as transgender or transsexual.

The Vancouver Men’s Chorus will hold two shows: on Nov. 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 22, at 2 p.m, inside the 230-seat church on Mitchell Street.

The first part of each concert will feature general, secular music while the second will offer a preview of the choir’s renowned Christmas concert, Making Spirits Bright.

“It’s a pretty wide range of musical styles,” said Willi Zwozdesky, the acclaimed conductor and artistic director of the Vancouver Men’s Chorus.

The chorus has been around for 35 years and is well known for a series of seasonal concerts at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Vancouver.

Zwozdesky said he’s looking forward to coming to Oak Bay and thinks the venue will make for an intimate performance.

“It’s a beautiful design,” Zwozdesky said of the Oak Bay United Church.

And though times have changed considerably since the 1980s, Zwozdesky said he doesn’t think discrimination against people based on sexuality will disappear in his lifetime.

And so, in all seriousness, the show must go on.

“If people have this bias, maybe (attending the concert) can help them get over this bias.”

The United Church has a history of leading the way on social change and was one of the first faith groups to formally remove sexuality as a barrier to being ordained as a minister. Church leaders also advocated for the federal government to legalize same-sex marriage.

Tickets for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus’s Making Spirits Bright concert are available from the church or by calling 260-598-5021.

 

editor@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

SD62 student places third in province-wide French competition

12-year-old Sasha Zandieh won third with a speech on poet Pablo Neruda

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read