As you can tell, we don’t update this page very often. This website serves as a resource guide for churches considering the Open and Affirming (ONA) discernment process. This site can also help those who have already been designated an Open and Affirming congregation as you figure out how to live out your new resolution.
If and when your church is considering this process, check out the tabs up top, follow the links to the various sites that should help you answer some basic questions. When you have familiarized yourself with this process, please call the Associate Conference Minister in the NJ Association office. Their number is 973-748-7772 or you may email their office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, we witnessed and testified to the acceptance of the New Jersey Association declaring itself Open and Affirming. That was a long process that was very rewarding. We also fellowshipped, ate together, and provide a variety of resources for your local churches. We also helped churches found a Rainbow Cafe, an LGBTQ youth support group, in local New Jersey UCC churches.
This year, we have opportunities to help local congregations pursue the Open and Affirming process and to help churches who are already ONA to find a voice for justice.
As we begin the New Year, let me ask you, what would you like to see us promote, foster, or help you with? Let’s be attentive to the ONA conversation as best as we are able.
This website is meant to be a resource for you, with updates from time to time, as you discern your congregation’s Open and Affirming process. We are also here to help you find and discover ways that you can, once you are Open and Affirming, support LGBT equality.
If there is anything you need or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact David Bocock or Gregory Rupright. We will help you coordinate your efforts toward discerning your ministry for LGBT persons. You can find our contact information under the Contact Us menu above.
On Saturday, November 17, St. Mark’s will offer a special screening of the film Love Free or Die at 1:00 pm. This movie [see trailer here] is a documentary film about the life and ministry of Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom. His consecration in 2003, to which he wore a bullet-proof vest, caused an international stir, and he has lived with death threats every day since.
Love Free or Die follows Robinson from small-town churches in the New Hampshire North Country to Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to London’s Lambeth Palace, as he calls for all to stand for equality – inspiring bishops, priests and ordinary folk to come out from the shadows and change history. There will be a light lunch served.
As you may have heard by now, the NJ Association voted to become Open and Affirming at its annual meeting on Saturday, April 28, 2012. The vote was nearly unanimous with two abstaining and no “no” votes. After the vote was announced, there was sheer joy in the room! Everyone rose to their feet, clapping, hugging, and celebrating.
A special thanks goes to all who put in a lot of hard and diligent work to make this happen. The Rev. Sherry Taylor, our Conference Minister, led the way with the Revs. Gregory Rupright and David Bocock who together planned a series of workshops supporting this effort as well as drafting the final resolution. There are countless others whose work helped support this endeavor and a special thanks goes to Bobbi Prato for her keen insight into transgender issues and recognition and to LL DuBreuil for her organizing of this effort early on.
Now that the NJ Association is Open and Affirming, Been Waiting for You will continue to provide workshops, resources, and volunteer testimonies to local churches involved in their own ONA process. In the coming months, a schedule will be created to plan interesting opportunities to learn, fellowship, and enjoy one another. So stay tuned!
We invite any and all LGBTQ youth ages 13-20 to attend the next meeting of the Rainbow Cafe on Sunday, April 8 at 6:00 PM. All meetings are held at the Cresskill Congregational Church, UCC, 85 Union Avenue in Cresskill, NJ. For more information about the meetings, you may visit http://www.facebook.com/rainbowcafennj.
At this meeting, we will be showing the hilarious film In & Out, staring Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, and Joan Cusack. Go to Youtube and watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tiTWGVwHp8
Our big day is coming up on Saturday, April 28 at the NJ Association’s Annual Meeting at the Community Church of Short Hills. We will be discussing regular business items to include budget and amendments. We will also be voting to declare our association Open and Affirming. We need as many of your church’s voting delegates as possible.
Many of you have attended our two retreats on this issue. You should have a copy of the resolution. In the event you don’t or would like to share it with another person, go here to read it.
We are also hoping any church who has questions about this resolution, what it means and doesn’t mean for the local congregation, will contact Been Waiting for You or our Associate Conference Minister, Sherry Taylor. We have at the ready persons who can discuss this resolution with a pastor or members of any NJ UCC congregation.
I am excited about this resolution as it will ensure that anyone who comes before the Association will know that their sexual orientation or gender expression will be affirmed. It also encourages churches who have yet to consider the ONA process, to do so. What it doesn’t do is force any church to affirm the dignity and benefit of any LGBT person.
Be sure to spread the word. Your participation in this will ensure its success.