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.

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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NEW CUTLINE Pacific FC fans fill the stands during a game at the former Westhills Stadium
 Starlight Developments has purchased the naming rights from the City of Langford for the next 10 years.(Gazette file photo)

Pacific FC slid into third place in the league after defeating FC Edmonton 1-0 at Westhills Stadium on Saturday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Langford sells stadium naming rights for $500,000 to Starlight Developments

10-year sponsorship deal largest in the history of Langford, says mayor

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

Construction in Oak Bay is nearly all focused on rebuilding new single-family homes and without secondary suites. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay nears regulation of secondary suites

Preliminary report hints there’s no preferred option

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bastion Square attack leaves victim with life-altering injuries

Victoria police looking for witnesses, information

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined 2nd time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Mount Arrowsmith. Three skiers were rescued from the south side of the mountain on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 with one woman taken to hospital in Comox. (Nancy Randall photo)
Injured skier among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

Most Read