All Are Welcome!
The Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (SUUF) has now been recognized by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) as a Welcoming Congregation. We see ourselves as welcoming regardless of a person’s gender, age, race, ethnicity, affectional orientation, ability or background. Being recognized as a Welcoming Congregation means that we publicly and visibly affirm Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. Current language often includes Q for queer/questioning, now acceptable terms. Congregations that so affirm LGBT/Q persons are openly welcoming and supportive of their lives, including them in all aspects of congregational life.
The UU first principle is a key underpinning for Welcoming Congregation efforts:
We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all persons. The UUA provides excellent guidance and materials to help us in this work. The 12 suggested commitments of a Welcoming Congregation offer a picture of what a Welcoming Congregation would look like. The guidelines for the application to UUA reflect those commitments for congregational life. Given our context – size, community, available space and such – it is not expected that we would meet all the suggested commitments, but rather focus on what is most reasonable and possible for us. The 12 commitments are noted below as part of this information/update piece.
Our journey toward recognition as a Welcoming Congregation (WC) began over two years ago and continued with decisions and actions by the task force, board, minister, and congregation. Accomplishments were highlighted in the October 25, 2015, Sunday celebration, were included in the November SUUF newsletter, and are provided in a “take- home” information piece on the welcome table on Sundays. If you have not already viewed the short video about SUUF and Welcoming, please see it on the SUUF website (www.sedonauu.org).
A newly convened task force – we think of ourselves as a “self-organizing” or organic workgroup rather than a committee with a chair, officers, etc. – gathered for a learning and work session on November 4. This group brings new energy, ideas and commitment to action for continuing our journey to becoming a Welcoming Congregation. We have agreed to stretch our learning and commitments as a task force. Watch for information, inclusive Sunday celebrations, welcome table items and congregational opportunities for involvement especially during November and December as we renew the
SUUF commitment to WC. We invite you to share in honoring the suggested commitments and participating in ways of interest to you in our SUUF efforts.
The newly reconvened task force members are: Polly Cullen, Dorothy Danielson, Craig Hartley, Carolyn Kavanaugh, Scott Robinson, Barbara Warren, and Rev. Glenn. Please feel free to contact any of us, especially with ideas we might include in our congregational efforts. The suggested commitments are included below. We invite you to become familiar with them and be a part of affirming and supporting especially those that speak most strongly to you and what you might practice.
The UU First Principle: We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all persons.
Commitments of a Welcoming Congregation
- A Welcoming Congregation is inclusive and expressive of the concerns of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender persons at every level of congregational life – in worship, in program, and in social occasions, welcoming not only their presence but the unique gifts and particularities of their lives as well.
- A Welcoming Congregation does not assume anyone’s affectional/sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Vocabulary of worship reflects this perception: worship celebrates diversity by inclusivity of language and content.
- An understanding of the experience of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender persons will be fully incorporated throughout all programs, including religious education.
- The bylaws and other official documents of a Welcoming Congregation include an affirmation and non-discrimination clause affecting all dimensions of congregational life, including membership, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals.
- A Welcoming Congregation engages in outreach into the bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender communities, both through its advertising and by actively supporting other bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender affirmative groups.
- A Welcoming Congregation offers congregational and ministerial support for services of union and memorial services for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender persons, and celebrations of evolving definitions of family.
- A Welcoming Congregation celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes same- gender couples, recognizing their committed relationships, and equally affirms displays of caring and affection without regard for sexual orientation.
- A Welcoming Congregation seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue between people of different affectional/sexual orientations and gender identifications, and to create deeper trust and sharing.
- A Welcoming Congregation encourages the presence of a chapter of Interweave (Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender concerns).
- A Welcoming Congregation affirms and celebrates bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender issues and history during the church year (possibly including Gay Pride Week, which is in June).
- A Welcoming Congregation, as an advocate for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people, attends to legislative developments and works to promote justice, freedom, and equality in the larger society. It speaks out when the rights and dignity of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people are at risk.
- A Welcoming Congregation celebrates the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other.
Source: The UUA Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns – The Welcoming Congregation Handbook, second edition, 1999, pp. 13-12