“Open and Affirming” (ONA) is a movement of more than 1,800 churches and other ministries in the United Church of Christ that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) members. More than 350,000 members of the UCC belong to ONA churches—and our movement is growing rapidly.
After a time of study, dialogue and prayer, churches adopt an Open and Affirming “covenant” committing their members to welcome LGBTQ+ seekers, support their relationships, and advocate for their basic rights. All sacraments and rites of an ONA congregation are available to LGBTQ+ people, including baptism, confirmation, communion, and marriage. ONA churches take seriously the Bible’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)
Founded in 1972, the Coalition has helped the UCC reach each of its milestones on the journey towards acceptance and justice for its LGBT and same-gender-loving (SGL)* members. From General Synod’s first resolutions advocating for the civil rights of LGBT citizens to the church’s historic affirmation of marriage equality, the Coalition has been a spur to the conscience of our beloved church. By claiming our right to participate fully in ministry and fellowship, by reminding UCC members of the injustices that continue to prevail in wider society, by providing leadership for the growing Open and Affirming movement, the Coalition has been an effective agent for change in the UCC.
In the 21st century, the Coalition faces new challenges. With our support, more than 1,800 congregations are now Open and Affirming—but we want to reach the nearly 3,600 UCC churches that have not yet publicly affirmed their welcome to the LGBT community. LGBT youth still face the threat of bullying and suicide in communities across America. Transgender citizens are still denied basic civil rights. Powerful and well-financed groups are mobilizing to enact new legislation to grant broad “religious exemptions” against discrimination in employment, housing and public services. And ONA congregations need support as they seek new ways to reach and minister to the LGBT community.
With your support, the Coalition is building a stronger movement for inclusion and justice in the UCC, and beyond. Our work continues until every congregation in the United Church of Christ can offer a authentic and confident welcome to LGBT seekers and their families.