Open and Affirming
Open and Affirming
One of our foundational justice commitments on which the new Southern New England Conference stands is that we are an Open and Affirming Conference. What that means is that we welcome into the full life and ministry of the Conference persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
The Open and Affirming movement of the United Church of Christ began right here in New England, when the historic Massachusetts Conference adopted the first Open and Affirming resolution in the UCC in 1984. The following year, the UCC General Synod adopted a resolution, "Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming."
Since then, updated resolutions have been passed, and hundreds of congregations, campus ministries, conferences and other bodies of the United Church of Christ. Trace more of the history here.
ONA is more than LGBTQ affirmation
The spirit of ONA is more than affirming people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. The meaning of an ONA declaration should be the commitment to affirm every person because they are children of God - those of any age, ability, race, culture and ethnicity, family configuration, health status, immigration status, whether with children or not, as well as any other description that might separate us.
A true welcome respects and honors every person, their story, their gifts and their needs. A welcome to some but not others is no real welcome.
In order for a church to be listed ONA by the Coalition, it must present a covenant that makes reference to the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. The Coalition provides excellent examples of ONA covenants here. Please note that nearly all churches choose to expand their welcome to name other groups that have been oppressed and include them in their welcome covenant. The ONA Task Team can also help your church with wording.
ONA Task Team
The ONA Ministry Team is available to provide guidance and assistance to local churches exploring this issue, and can provide consultation, curriculum materials and workshops. The team can assist you in designing an ONA process and in creating an ONA covenant that expresses your church’s welcome and meets the criteria of the UCC’s Open and Affirming Coalition. We encourage you to contact the ONA Ministry Team so that your process will be an open and successful one.
LGBT Asylum Task Force
A ministry of the Hadwen Park Church in Worcester, MA, and a community-based organization dedicated to supporting and empowering LGBTQI individuals who are seeking asylum in the United States.
Institute for Welcoming Resources
An ecumenical group dedicated to providing the resources to facilitate a paradigm shift in multiple denominations whereby churches become welcoming and affirming of all congregants.
The following resolutions trace the history of the ONA movement in Southern New England
- Resolution on Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming
Historic Massachusetts Conference, 1984
- Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming
General Synod, 1985
- Resolution to Declare Ourselves Open and Affirming
Historic Connecticut Conference, 1989
- Affirming the Participation and Ministry of Transgender People within the United Church of Christ and Supporting Their Civil and Human Rights
General Synod, 2003
Resolution to Update the Massachusetts Conference's 1984 Open and Affirming (ONA) Resolution to include Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Historic Massachusetts Conference, 2012
A Resolution Declaring the Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ be an Open and Affirming Conference
Historic Rhode Island Conference, 2016