We are a congregation on a journey – a journey of learning and stretching and growing, a journey of deepening our understanding of what it means to be truly welcoming. One way we live out that journey is in our work to become a certified Welcoming Congregation, a congregation recognized by the Unitarian Universalist Association as having done the work to be fully and genuinely welcoming to folks who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and/or transgender.
When the Welcoming Congregation program began over twenty years ago, talking about gay and lesbian issues was still a real challenge for many of our congregations. Many people didn't know – or didn't know they knew – any gay people. There were no shows like “Will and Grace” or “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, no personalities like Ellen Degeneris putting real-life gay people into the mainstream.
By now, most of us have acquaintance, friends and family members who are openly gay. We are becoming more aware of transgender concerns and issues. Rather than asking “Can we welcome gay people here?”, we're more likely to ask “Why do we even need to have this conversation?”
Well, we've learned a lot, but we are still learning. We need to have the conversation so that we can be sure that everything about us – our language, our structure, our process, our bylaws -- convey the openness and welcome that we want to project. Becoming a Welcoming Congregation is a way of saying publicly that we are willing to keep learning and growing, to be sure that we can be a safe and welcoming home for a group of people who have not traditionally been welcome in religious institutions. We are a congregation on a journey, and we invite you to journey with us.