Becoming a Trans-Affirming Church Affinity Group Offered This Fall

Becoming a Trans-Affirming Church Affinity Group Offered This Fall


An Affinity Group for Congregations in the Southern New England Conference, UCC: 
October 2023 - June 2024 

With gratitude to an Innovation Grant from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, this Affinity Group is offered as a gift to congregations, without an enrollment fee. SNEUCC congregations are invited to form a team of eight people, with core leadership of one pastor and one lay leader, to apply for participation in this program. Five congregations will be accepted in the 2023-2024 Becoming a Trans-Affirming Church Affinity Group.

This program is offered in partnership between the SNEUCC Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Team and the Center for Transformational Leadership.   
This topic is close to the heart of the Southern New England Conference. Being Open & Affirming is an important part of our identity as a Conference and for many of our congregations. Trans and non-binary people are already an essential part of our congregations and communities. They sit in our pews, serve as clergy and passionate lay leaders, and are active throughout the wider church, including in our conference and the national setting.

At the same time, trans and non-binary people are under attack nationwide. As of early April, 2023 has seen a surge of anti-trans and anti-queer legislation, with nearly 500 bills introduced. Twenty-six of those bills have passed, with some states now banning gender-affirming care, use of gender-aligned bathrooms, and drag performances. Though this legislation is often proclaimed to “protect” kids, anti-trans rhetoric and policies threaten the lives of trans children and adults, as well as other LGBTQ+ people.    

It is out of our commitment to each other as the body of Christ and our call to be a witness to the public in times of injustice that we invite the congregations of the Southern New England Conference to engage in deep work to become places where trans and nonbinary people belong.    

Applications are due by August 15, 2023. 

We invite your congregation to apply to be part of a cohort of churches who will deepen their awareness of trans/nonbinary experiences and lead similar learning with the wider congregation. Participation will include the following components: 
  1. Eight members of the congregation will attend the 2023 Justice Summit: Trans & Nonbinary Belonging in the Church, on October 7, 2023. The cost of registration is covered for these eight local church leaders, and they may participate in person or online. 
  1. From each participating congregation, a minimum of two leaders, including one pastor and one lay leader, will join monthly Affinity Group meetings via zoom. Affinity Group sessions will include content learning on transgender/nonbinary experiences and change management, as well as peer group reflection on the experience of leading education or action related to trans/nonbinary belonging. 
  1. Each congregation will receive a $500 mini-grant, to be used between January-May 2024, to advance the congregation’s learning and/or action around trans and nonbinary belonging.  
  1. Each participating congregation will be responsible for sharing an element of their learning with the wider church, during a presentation on June 13, 2024, and in written and video materials. 

How to Apply 

  1. One leader submits this form on behalf of the congregation. We encourage you to discuss the application together with your leadership team, as there are several questions that require a thoughtful response. You can view the application questions here
  1. SNEUCC staff from the DEI Team and Center for Transformational Leadership will review applications and invite church leaders to a zoom conversation to ensure compatibility between the church’s goals and the program. Staff will also consult with the congregation’s Area Conference Minister. 
Congregations will be assessed on their experience with the four-fold mission of the Southern New England Conference: make disciples of Jesus; make God’s love and justice real; bring new life as agents of change; form covenant partnerships. A congregation that is a good fit for this program will demonstrate strength in at least one of these areas and desire for growth in at least one of these areas. 

Applications are due by August 15, 2023.  Apply here.

Also, consider joining us for our Justice Summit on Oct. 7: 2023 Justice Summit - Trans and Nonbinary Belonging in the Church - Southern New England Conference of the UCC (

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Karen Methot

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