The Bible and Homosexuality

This is a thought-provoking video about LGBT identity and biblical interpretation. Watch, listen, and learn. This video is really a good place to begin an ONA conversation.

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Updated New Jersey Association ONA Resolution

We hope you are planning to attend our next gathering on Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM at the Stanley Congregational Church, Chatham, NJ.  We have a wonderful meeting planned for you.

In order to prepare for the meeting, we are asking you to review the updated Resolution and consider any questions you might have.  Currently, the Resolution is on the NJ Association’s website: http://www.njassociation.org.

Please review the entire Resolution and come to ask questions.

See you soon!

Bo

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January Gathering

Hello NJ UCCers!

We will be meeting again this month on Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM at the Stanley Congregational Church, 94 Fairmont Avenue, in Chatham, NJ.  We will be meeting to mobilize volunteers and to spread the word to our local congregations educating them about the ONA Resolution at the Spring annual gathering.  Our meeting will provide training you to have these conversations.

We will also be meeting to hear a personal testimony from Bobbi Prato on being transgender.  She will educate us with a “trans 101” discussion as well as sharing her personal faith journey with us.

If you have always wanted to better understand transgender issues, this is a meeting NOT to be missed!

We will have a tasty continental breakfast of donuts, cinnamon roles, fruit salad, pigs in a blanket, mini-eclairs, coffee and tea.

To RSVP, please contact David Bocock (201-568-0608; bo@cresskillucc.org).  If you have any questions, please direct them to Gregory Rupright (201-566-6543;  gregrupright@aol.com) or Sherry Taylor (937-748-7772; revtowanda@aol.com).

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What a Great Time!

We had our gathering Tuesday night and what a wonderful time it was.  We ate the best baked ziti that I can remember ever eating, salad with that tasty raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and topped it all off with all those wonderfully fattening desserts!  I must’ve gone back for fourths.

At the meeting, we discussed the proposed resolution to be presented at the April 2012 Association meeting.  Each of the participants took the resolution back to their churches to talk about it.  Sherry Taylor, our Conference Minister, told us what to expect as we gather support to present and pass it at April meeting.  We also discussed addressing concerns to churches that might have questions about the resolution.  Sherry will coordinate a guided response.

We also asked who would be willing to discuss the ONA process with other churches, most all of the participants signed up.  Unfortunately, we didn’t ask which church you were from and an email will be sent shortly asking you to identify your home church.  Greg will be sending out an email to all the participants.  We need this for our records.

Finally, we talked about how ONA churches can continue the ONA conversation within their local church settings.  Some of you shared what you were already doing and then we looked at the various resolutions of churches and discovered a wealth of ideas relating to all the discriminated people, not just those who are LGBT, that are listed in the resolutions.  Realizing that the ONA conversation is also about gender, race, physical ability, and various situations in life, we learned that to keep the ONA conversation alive, we can speak to and about these issues as well.

We plan to meet again in January (the exact date TBD) to review the resolution and to make sure we’re addressing the concerns prior to our proposal in April.  We will also have another teaching session, which hasn’t yet been named.

Thanks to all who who were present!  And we’ll be looking forward to continued conversations and ideas about our future.

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It’s Here: Our First Gathering/Dinner/Meeting

All clergy, members, and friends of the NJ Association UCC churches are cordially invited to the ‘Been Waiting for You Dinner & Discussion Gathering’ on Tuesday, November 15th at 7:30 PM at Christ Church, located at 561 Springfield Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901.

We will meet in Christ Church’s Barnwell Hall.  The purpose of this dinner gathering is to enjoy one another’s fellowship and fabulousness.  We also will review and answer questions regarding the ONA process for churches in NJ, identify volunteers who would help us educate UCC churches about the ONA conversation, and to discuss a proposed NJ ONA Resolution for adoption by vote at the NJ Association’s Spring Business Meeting in April 2012.

While the free dinner will be catered, participants are asked to bring a dessert.  An RSVP is appreciated.  RSVP’s can be directed to David Bocock (201-568-0608; bo@cresskillucc.org).  If you have any questions, please direct them to  Gregory Rupright (201-566-6543; gregrupright@aol.com) or Sherry Taylor (937-748-7772; revtowanda@aol.com) can answer your questions.

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Our First Meeting

Okay, so the leadership of our support group met with our Conference Minister, Sherry Taylor, last week.  We will be moving forward with a few attainable goals for the year ahead.

We want to begin with hosting a social potluck with all LGBT persons and our straight allies within our NJ churches.  We also invite churches who are Open and Affirming (ONA) or are considering the ONA process.  We want to get together, share our visions for our future, and help you help others in the ONA process. Stay tuned for the day and time, as it will be determined shortly.

In the coming weeks, you will receive a call or email from either David Bocock, Greg Rupright, or another person to schedule the potluck supper as well as helping us to create a roster of contact persons for LGBT issues, ONA and otherwise, within NJ churches.  If you want to help now and are serving/worshiping in a UCC church in NJ now, you can contact David Bocock at bo@cresskillucc.org and let him know of your contact persons.

Stay tuned; some great things are being planning and will happen!

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So…now what?

I posted our first poll and have only received one vote. The question on the poll has to do with how our new support group can best address your needs and concerns. One of the answers, as you can see, seeks to find a way to address the needs of ONA churches. Many of you, who have gone through the Open and Affirming discernment process, a process that takes one year, spent much of your energy just passing your church’s resolution to become ONA. After that, many of you took a break (as did my congregation). And you deserve a break. But now the break is over and it’s time to get moving.

So now that you’re ONA, what can you do with it? Before I offer some suggestions, perhaps other readers might comment on what your church is doing. Such a testimony would be very helpful for others.

For those looking for recommendations, let me invite you to review your ONA resolution–and to carefully review the wording as to your justification for becoming an open and affirming congregation. Did you, like many others, specifically name other groups of persons traditionally maligned by the church universal? Did you name people of color, women, persons with disabilities, people in different situations in life as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons? If so, you have a list to start from–and I would recommend starting with the last to the first, in this case.

One thing you can do is to have a LGBT appreciation day. Invite people you know who self-identify as LGBT or who have LGBT children, nephews, or nieces to a potluck dinner, worship service, or panel discussion. Create a brochure for LGBT visitors. Hang a gay-friendly poster in your social hall or church parlor. Consider ways to advertise the Pride colors, with a rainbow sticker on a church sign or displaying the gay pride flag.

Another way to use your ONA position is to support LGBT causes such as marching in one of several gay pride parades in New York and New Jersey and displaying a church banner there. Did you know that there are three gay pride parades in New Jersey during the summer? There are three in New York City too, including the big one on the last Sunday of June.  You can also take up an issue of support for gay persons such as gay marriage–which New Jersey needs more supportive churches to make their voices heard to our elected leaders and scared friends.

You might also consider using your ONA position to offer a ministry and social support group to LGBT persons–such as gay senior citizens, gay youth, or gay 20-somethings. You might also find an issue within other issues, such as immigration and then focus your energies on gay persons within the immigration debate. You could host a seminar, join the New Sanctuary Movement, or invite LGBT foreigners to give a testimony in church.

Another suggestion is to consider how the ONA resolution affects your other ministries and ministers.  You might, for example, consider hiring a qualified openly gay person to be a minister or work in your Christian education department.  Or, you might look into the UCC’s Our Whole Lives curriculum and explore ways you might teach a healthy sexual ethic to your children, teenagers, and young adults in a way that honors all God’s children, gay, transgender, bisexual, or straight.

These are but a few ways that you can promote your ONA resolution within your congregational setting.  But these are just a few ways–other folks are doing other things.   For example, my congregation partnered with Bergen PFLAG to form a LGBT teen youth support group called The Rainbow Cafe.  We’ve been meeting since February and have many kids participating in monthly meetings and quarterly dances.  We have around 15 kids who come to our monthly discussion meetings and around 85 kids who come to our quarterly dances.

Speaking of teens, you could have a panel discussion about bullying in your schools and have representatives from LGBT groups, high school students who get bullied, and parents a part of the discussion.  It could be a great educational moment and really help spread the word about the dangers our LGBT youth face in schools.

I hope these examples have given you some ideas to consider.  If you would like to talk more about these ideas, please let me know.  I’d be happy to help get your creative juices flowing.  Shoot me an email at bo@cresskillucc.org and we can begin the conversation.

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Go Ahead and Like Us Already!

I have included a link to our new Facebook page on the right of this page where we will keep you informed, as needed, regarding with what we’re up to.  So go ahead and like it. Let’s spread the love. 😀

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How would you like us to help you?

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Hello world!

Welcome to our new website!!  This place is meant to be your resources for all matters regarding the Open and Affirming process for local churches in the New Jersey Association, a place for churches who have already declared themselves Open and Affirming and are now asking, “Okay, so now what?”, and for LGBTQ clergy and lay persons who would like a place to socialize and be encouraged in their faith.

This website is a new endeavor and may take several months before it is fully as functional as necessary.  Please be patient–it’ll be up and running before you know it.

If you have any questions before all the information is up and running, please contact the Rev. Dr. David Bocock, the pastor at the Cresskill Congregational Church, UCC and the new co-chairperson of Been Waiting for You at bo@cresskillucc.org. He’ll be happy to discuss your questions and get acquainted with you.

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