Open and Affirming; Our Ministry of Extravagant Welcome
The New York Conference voted in 1996 to be an Open and Affirming Conference within the United Church of Christ. Open and Affirming (ONA) “is the United Church of Christ's (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions (http://ucccoalition.org/ona).
The UCC has been a pioneering witness for human rights for LGBTQIA communities, passing a resolution to be an Open and Affirming denomination in 1985. This was followed by resolutions affirming equality for Transgendered Persons in 2003 and Marriage Equality (Same-Sex Marriage) in 2005.
The New York Conference has also been at the forefront of LGBTQIA rights in New York, actively participating in the struggle and successful passage of Marriage Equality in New York State in 2011. In addition, our congregations have been a longtime presence in Pride Marches and rallies in New York City, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester and have been a major sponsor of the LGBTQIA Pride Booth for several years at the New York State Fair at the NY State Fairgrounds. The New York Conference has also sponsored summits and trainings on LGBTQIA issues facing our congregations, including an on-line course offered by the New York School in Pastoral Care for Transgendered Persons.
Neither all congregations and ministry settings within the UCC are ONA, nor are they required to be. However, The Conference has over seventy ONA congregations. To find one near you, look for an “Open and Affirming” designation after selecting a church using the Find a Church option at the top of this page or click here for a complete list of ONA congregations.
Open and Affirming Consultants
If you are a member of a congregation considering to be ONA, the New York Conference can provide you with a consultant to conduct a workshop, bible study, or facilitated discussion and guidance in discerning your future as an ONA congregation. A consultant can be available to you at a cost typically between $200-400 plus transportation costs. For further information please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development.
“How Does My Church Become ONA?” is a brochure designed for churches considering becoming Open and Affirming congregations. To download a copy please click here
“We’re ONA – But Now What” is a series of questions that assess your congregation’s ONA commitment and ministry and can help identify areas for growth. To download a copy please click here
“Tips for Evangelism for ONA Churches” is a brochure for ONA congregations who desire to further their outreach to LGBTQ communities. To download a copy please click here
“There’s More than One Way to Live ONA” describes ways in which congregations can nurture and strengthen their ONA presence and witness. To download a copy please click here
The UCC Open and Affirming Coalition provides support, resources and advocacy for LGBTQ/SGL (Same Gender Loving) brothers and sisters and promotes full inclusion in the United Church of Christ: openandaffirming.org
The United Church of Christ has a website page dedicated to LGBTQ and SGL concerns and ministries http://www.ucc.org/lgbt_ona
The UCC HIV and AIDS Network (UCAN) is an organization composed of a network of people, congregations and organizations within and beyond the United Church of Christ dedicated to care giving, education and prevention in response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic – www.ucc.org/ucan/
Our Whole Lives is a curriculum designed by the UCC to provide sexuality education for children, youth, and adults - www.ucc.org/justice/sexuality-education/
The Institute for Welcoming Resources is an ecumenical organization whose purpose is to provide resources to multiple denominations to enable churches to become welcoming and affirming of all congregants regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity – www.welcomingresources.org
The Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program seeks to engage all faith traditions in a deeper dialogue on questions of fairness and equality for LGBT Americans - www.hrc.org/issues/religion-faith
The Gay Christian Network is a nonprofit ministry serving Christians ‘who happen’ to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender- www.gaychristian.net
TransFaith Online is an Interfaith organization whose website contains resources and support for Transgendered persons. www.transfaithonline.org
While the New York Conference seeks to share a variet of relevant information, program information or a link to any website does not imply endorsement by the New York Conference.