What Is the Welcoming Congregation 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. Many congregations offer the workshop series several consecutive times as an adult religious education curriculum open to all members and friends. In some congregations the workshop series (and later the entire program) is sponsored by a Welcoming Congregation Task Force/Committee created for just this purpose, while other congregations sponsor the workshop series through their Interweave chapters. In either case, the workshops are best facilitated by those that have experienced the curriculum.
What Does It Mean to Be a Welcoming Congregation?Congregations who publicly and successfully welcome bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people have the following qualities:
- Includes and address the needs of LGBT 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 LGBT people and celebrates this diversity by having inclusive language and content in their worship.
- Fully incorporates the experiences of LGBT 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 LGBT community in its advertising and by actively supporting LGBT affirmative groups.
- Offers congregational and ministerial support for union and memorial services for LGBT 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 LGBT 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.