Open and Affirming History

The idea of encouraging local congregations to affirm lesbian and gay congregants in the United Church of Christ was first raised at the General Synod in 1983. No formal action was taken by the General Synod but, in the months after that, a group of UCC members from the MA Conference continued work on this. They developed a resolution using the term “Open and Affirming” (ONA) and it was adopted by the Annual Meeting of the MA Conference in 1984. That resolution and one from the Rocky Mountain Conference formed the basis of the resolution adopted in 1985 by the Fifteenth General Synod (national delegate body of the UCC).

The resolution was entitled:  “Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming.” This General Synod action “…encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith.”

Preparing for General Synod 2003, several conferences worked on a resolution, which was endorsed by The Coalition, and called for the UCC to publicly reject discrimination and violence against transgender people. Another resolution was introduced at General Synod 2003 and called for full inclusion of transgender persons into the life and leadership of the denomination. These two resolutions were combined and passed.

The final General Synod 2003 resolution, “Affirming the Participation and Ministry of Transgender People within the United Church of Christ and Supporting Their Civil and Human Rights,” encouraged all congregations of the United Church of Christ “to welcome transgender people into membership, ministry, and full participation” and encouraged all settings of the UCC “to learn about the realities of transgender experience and expression, including the gifts and callings and needs of transgender people, and are encouraged to engage in appropriate dialogue with transgender people.”

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