History

In 1987 the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee found many negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance about bisexual, gay, and lesbian people, which resulted in the exclusion of bisexual, gay, and lesbian people from their churches. As a result of these findings, the delegates of the 1989 UUA General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to initiate the Welcoming Congregation program to educate its members. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet its goals and each unique situation can bring positive changes to individuals and congregations.

The Program

The Welcoming Congregation Program is a completely volunteer program for congregations that see a need to become more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. It consists of a series of workshops developed by the UUA. The goal of the workshops is to reduce prejudice by increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations. Some of the workshop titles include: How Homophobia Hurts Heterosexuals; Connections to Other Forms of Oppression; Gender Socialization and Homophobia; and Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality. First Parish participated in this program and was certified as a Welcoming Church on December 2, 1999.


Being a Welcoming Congregation

Only when we are truly open to the wealth of diversity in our world will the inherent worth and dignity of every person be affirmed with a large voice.

Congregations who publicly and successfully welcome bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people have the following qualities:

  • Includes and address the needs of b/g/l/t persons at every level of congregational life in worship, in programs, in social occasions, and in rites of passage welcoming not only their presence, but the gifts and particularities of their lives as well.
  • Assumes the presence of b/g/l/t people and celebrates this diversity by having inclusive language and content in their worship.
  • Fully incorporates the experiences of b/g/l/t persons throughout all programs, including religious education.
  • Includes an affirmation and nondiscrimination clause in our by-laws and other official documents affecting all dimensions of congregational life, including membership, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals.
  • Engages in outreach into the b/g/l/t community in its advertising and by actively supporting b/g/l/t affirmative groups.
  • Offers congregational and ministerial support for union and memorial services for b/g/l/t persons, and for celebrations of...family definitions.
  • Celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes same-sex couples, recognizing their committed relationships, and equally affirms displays of caring and affections without regard to sexual orientation.
  • Seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue between bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust and sharing.
  • Encourages the presence of a chapter of Interweave.
  • Affirms and celebrates b/g/l/t issues and history during the church year.
  • Attends to legislative developments and works to promote justice, freedom, and equality in the larger society.
  • Speaks out when the rights of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people are at stake.
  • Celebrates the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other.
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