In 2012, Trinity sought to expand and deepen its call to Austin’s queer community by exploring what it would mean to co-affiliate with the United Church of Christ (UCC). After several years of research and dialogue with people in the UMC and the UCC, in 2015 Trinity voted by an overwhelming majority of members voted to become a Union Church, affiliating with the UCC while also remaining UMC.
The UCC “Open and Affirming” Movement
Here is a brief primer on what the ONA means for the UCC church and for us at Trinity.
The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the UCC, and equips UCC congregations to become effective witnesses to Christ’s extravagant welcome.
Founded in 1972, the Coalition has helped the UCC reach each of its milestones on the journey towards acceptance and justice for its LGBT and same-gender-loving (SGL) members. From General Synod’s first resolutions advocating for the civil rights of LGBT citizens to the church’s historic affirmation of marriage equality, the Coalition has been a spur to the conscience of our beloved church. By claiming the right of LGBT+ persons to participate fully in ministry and fellowship, by reminding UCC members of the injustices that continue to prevail in wider society, by providing leadership for the growing Open and Affirming movement, the Coalition has been an effective agent for change in the UCC.
In the 21st century, the Coalition faces new challenges. With ONA support, more than 1,400 congregations are now Open and Affirming—but the goal is to reach the nearly 3,600 UCC churches that have not yet publicly affirmed their welcome to the LGBT community. LGBT youth still face the threat of bullying and suicide in communities across America. Transgender citizens are still denied basic civil rights. Powerful and well-financed groups are mobilizing to enact new legislation to grant broad “religious exemptions” against discrimination in employment, housing and public services. And ONA congregations need support as they seek new ways to reach and minister to the LGBT community.
With the support of congregations such as Trinity, the Coalition is building a stronger movement for inclusion and justice in the UCC, and beyond. Our work continues until every congregation in the UCC can offer a authentic and confident welcome to LGBT seekers and their families.
The Coalition’s core ministry is the growing movement of ONA churches in the UCC. The ONA network is now the largest and fastest-growing LGBT-welcoming movement in the Body of Christ. We welcomed ONA church #1 in 1986 and church #1,000 in 2012. Today there are more than 1,400 ONA congregations in the UCC—and we’re growing fast.
For more, visit: https://openandaffirming.org/