Welcoming Congregation

Welcoming Congregation

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.

Marriage Equality Task Force

In becoming a Welcoming Congregation our past work has now led us into a new direction as we step forward to promote Human Rights. We are about to begin a Task Force focusing on Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania.

Let us give you a small overview of what this is really about;

A Task Force model is an effective way to further a broader initiative, such as marriage equality. Together Task Force members will identify a specific problem and a specific goal. Task Forces are action oriented – the specific purpose is to do something.

Generally speaking, a Task Force is not meant to be permanent. The purpose is to come up with real results. A Task Force will allow us to zero in on an area that we feel needs immediate attention on Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania. It will allow us to focus without being pulled in many directions.

Developing a Task Force within our fellowship is a new approach for us in our attempt to deal with the mega issues in the realm of social justice. It is one way to be able to join hands with others in promoting this level of work as we add our uniqueness to this effort.

Marriage Equality Task Force
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?”

Brief Introduction About Becoming a Welcoming Congregation

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.