Starting an Affirmation Chapter
The following information will help you form an Affirmation chapter.
If you are intersted in staring a chapter, please inform
us of your intent. We can help you contact Affirmation members and friends in your area.
We will need your contact information so that we may be able to keep in touch and promote the new chapter.
Please feel free to contact us for additional help and information if needed. We wish you the best of luck and pray for the success of your new chapter.
||Senior Vice President
Look around your own circle of friends and acquaintances. Would they be
interested in helping form the chapter? What talents or skills do these
people have? Who is good with people? Are they reliable and excited about
Affirmation as you are? Always find out what resources you have close at
Setting Up Shop
Once you've established that you have enough interest to set up a local chapter, take the following steps:
After you have done all the above, you're ready for your first meeting. Be sure to welcome everyone warmly. Make clear that Affirmation is a safe place, where people are free to share their experiences and feelings without judgment or criticism. Remind everyone that we respect their confidentiality and expect those who attend to do the same. You should also have introductions. This can be done by asking people to tell a little about themselves, e.g., how they heard of Affirmation or what they hope to gain from participating. Introductions can be fun too. Ask people to relate something funny that happened to them recently, or what their most favorite vacation was. Be creative—the point is to get people to talk a little and break the ice. Once people are a little more relaxed, announce the topic and hand out copies of the Charter and Bylaws. Be prepared to talk about what Affirmation is (and is not). The emphasis should be on questions and discussion. Before concluding, ask for volunteers to help with positions, until you can have an election. Don't forget to encourage people to become members of Affirmation.
- Frequently, people cite confidentiality as their main concern when
first coming out. It's important therefore to have a procedure to protecting
the confidentiality of your mailing list. This means that ordinarily
only one or two trusted people should have access to the mailing list.
- Set a date, time, and place for the first meeting. Send the information
to the Affirmation webamster so that it can be announced on the national website.
- The main topic for the first meeting should be a discussion of the
purposes and mission of Affirmation. Have copies of the Charter
and Bylaws available for this purpose. Send out a mailing to everyone
on your list with this information. Follow this up with phone calls,
and place announcements in newspapers or bulletin boards as you are
able. Don't forget to have a few friends help you so they get used to
- Establish an email or mailing address for the chapter so people will
know how to reach you.
- Advertise your chapter in the local media. While you should definitely
include announcements in the gay media, we strongly suggest "alternative
media," such as weeklies, as well. This is because people first coming
out often do not consult the gay media first. They may be too afraid
to pick up a gay newspaper. Lists of newspapers and examples for advertising
are available from the Affirmation Public Relations Director.
Elections & Charter
Please view Affirmation's Charter and Bylaws. Your new chapter is expected to know and follow the guidelines in the Charter. While your chapter has great freedom to run its internal affairs, the Charter sets out our purpose and all chapters are required to accept and support this purpose. The Bylaws provide the mechanics for running Affirmation, and must also be followed. Be sure to provide a copy to each of your chapter members.
Here are some other points to keep in mind:
Help Is Available
- Brochure: it will be helpful to make up an information flyer
or brochure to give to new people and inquirers. We suggest you use this brochure (available also in black and white).
- Finances: By now you will probably have expenses. Besides the
dues paid by members to the national organization, local chapters can
establish additional dues and find other ways to raise funds. If your chapter is handling funds, open up a club-type checking account to serve as your treasury.
- Records: Please set up and maintain a complete set of correspondence.
Affirmation files and records are strictly confidential. They should be started
immediately and maintained so that future leaders can easily use them. Read more
- Website and Newsletter: We strongly encourage chapters to start and maintain a simple website. You may publish some sort of periodical or start a mailing list in order to keep your chapter members informed of what is going on in your area. Read more
- Meetings: The kind and number of meetings depends in large
part on what your local needs are. We suggest chapters to have at least one meeting
a month. In
setting up your meetings, keep in mind the purposes of Affirmation.
We are here to educate, support and encourage positive growth and self-esteem.
Don't let the focus of meetings turn negative or unproductive. While
many of us have good reason to feel angry or betrayed, our goal should
be to help others move toward inner strength and healing. More than
anything, your meetings should meet the needs of your members. Be sure
to ask them often what they want. Not everyone will have the same needs
or interests. Most chapters will offer various meetings, including a
social, a discussion night and a spiritually focused "fireside" meeting.
Don't forget that just because we're gay or lesbian doesn't mean we
don't have the same needs for social, educational and spiritual support
as before. Read more
By now, you may feel overwhelmed! Relax. These steps don't all have to be done at once. Some will come naturally as your chapter begins to grow. Please keep this sheet and refer to it often. This should be the first item in your chapter files. If you have any questions or problems, feel free to contact the Chapter Development coordinator. The Executive Committee will do all they can to help. Also know that Affirmation holds leadership conferences for chapter directors and other leaders to share ideas. One is always held in conjunction with Affirmation's annual conference. There's never a need to feel like you're out on your own. Affirmation leaders are always available to help others.
One last thought. Don't forget the work of the Spirit. There is real need for prayer and reflection in the work you are carrying out. We believe that Affirmation has a place in Heavenly Father's plan for his gay and lesbian children. We can only find that place, however, to the extent that we seek his guidance and listen to the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit is closest when we work toward our goals, mindful of the needs of our sisters and brothers, and of the love that the Saviour has for each of us, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight.
Again, good luck and God bless you. You will soon know the appreciation of many for your courage and determination.