If you were driving around Burrard Street and West 15th Avenue in the past couple of weeks, you might have seen six colourful doors with the words "God’s doors are open for all" painted on them, and a seventh with the progressive flag.
The Pride Doors display was hosted by the Canadian Memorial United Church through June 15 to let the public know of the United Church's commitment to being fully inclusive of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
But the display - and its message - isn't just here for Pride month, and this isn't the only United Church location where the door display will stand.
How the Pride Door display started
The Pride Doors display began last year during Pride month when the Shaughnessy Heights location was inspired to re-create the display after a church in the United States first hosted a similar display.
Since then, it's been displayed at four other United Churches across the Lower Mainland, for a couple of months each throughout the year. Each church that displayed the Pride Doors is part of The United Church, Canada’s largest Protestant denomination.
But the message behind Pride Doors runs a lot deeper.
An 'Affirming congregation': The Canadian Memorial United Church
For the past four years, the Canadian Memorial United Church has been an 'Affirming congregation,' which means, "an explicit show of our belief that all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are part of God’s divine plan and gift of diversity in humanity," according to its website.
To obtain this status, Churches must go through the Affirming Ministries program, which takes 12 months to complete.
Reverend Beth Hayward says being an Affirming congregation is "not just a label."
"We’ve gone through an intensive period of study and self-reflective process to learn about the places we are not involving the 2SLGBTQIA+ community," explains Hayward.
After the 12 months, the Church must make commitments, detailing how they'll integrate what they've learned and reflected on, into their everyday practice.
"Several Sundays we have a particular focus," says Hayward. "We mark the day for eliminating transphobia, as well as other special days for the LGBTQ+ community during our schedule for service."
She also describes how her church has begun getting people to write their preferred pronouns on name stickers and how anyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, race or background, can be a leader within the church.
While work is being done to be more inclusive, Hayward knows that no community is perfect. To help with this, Hayward says a committee comes around to point out ways in which they aren't being inclusive; holding the church and it's members accountable for the status they've received.
The Pride Doors are now back at their original location at the Shaughnessy Heights United Church at 1550 West 33rd Ave in Vancouver