We Are an Open and Affirming (ONA) Church!
That’s our way of saying that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, along with straight folks, are welcome in the full life and ministry of our congregation! At United, we don’t want to tolerate differences; we want to understand and value them.
We believe that a range of age, ability, gender identity, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity and more reflects the diversity of God’s creation and enriches our life together.
We know our ONA commitment doesn’t somehow make people “worthy;” God’s love for us all is the source of that. But in a world where persons who are LGB/same-gender-loving and transgender still face stereotypes, discrimination, and violence, it is one way that we live out Jesus’ call to us to “love one another.” Together, we learn and unlearn, pray, advocate, and celebrate on our faith journey toward greater equality and justice for all God’s people.
Our church is part of the United Church of Christ (UCC) bodies of which began speaking out on LGBT concerns even before the famous Stonewall event in New York City in 1969! It was in 1985 that our General Synod* asked local churches to declare themselves “Open and Affirming (ONA)” by making public statements of welcome to lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. In 1988, United became the 17th UCC church to join this witness.
In 2003, The General Synod urged the full inclusion of transgender persons and “ONA” now stands for a growing, Spirited movement of churches, campus ministries, and other UCC settings that are blessed by the participation of people of various sexual orientations and gender identities. (Just recently, ONA church # 1,000 was listed!)
We believe LGBT-affirming words and other actions are important! That’s why we:
- Offer marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples
- Are a voice in the Worcester area and beyond for LGBT rights
- Financially support the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns (www.ucccoalition.org)
- Are part of the broad, vibrant “Welcoming Church Movement”
- And there’s more! We welcome you, your family and friends to visit…and to join us as we live together in the Open and Affirming love of God!
* General Synod is a meeting of UCC delegates from across the country that happens every two years. People of all ages gather for worship, educational events, and fun. They also discuss important social justice issues, like “Open and Affirming,” and prayerfully vote on statements which address the wider UCC. The General Synod does not, however, have mandating power and it “speaks to and not for” other parts of the UCC. With the guidance of the Spirit, every UCC church, campus ministry, etc. decides for itself how it will respond to actions of the General Synod.