In 1987, the UUA established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee found many negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance about bisexual, gay, lesbian, and trans-gender (BGLT) people; this resulted in their exclusion from our churches. As a result, the 1989 General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to initiate the Welcoming Congregation Program to educate it's members.
This program is completely voluntary for congregations that wish to become more inclusive toward BGLT people. It consists partly of a series of work-shops developed by the UUA with the goal of reducing prejudice by increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations.
You may ask why single out bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people? The Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong states in the Welcoming Congregation manual: “For centuries, the church has been a leading force against sexual minorities. It is not surprising that gay people are reluctant to reach out to the very institution that oppresses them. Yet, gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people have no less need for warmth, caring, and affirmation than any-one else who calls the liberal church their religious home. In fact, as a subculture in society, gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people may need our support more than the general population."
Aren't we already a welcoming congregation? It is true that UUFD probably meets most of the qualifications for a Welcoming Congregation. Article IV of our Bylaws states that we affirm and promote full participation of persons without regard to ethnicity, gender, physical or mental challenge, sexual orientation........ Our membership already includes BGLT people who are active members, willing to give of themselves and share their experiences. However, official recognition as a Welcoming Congregation will allow us to open UUFD as a safe place for BGLT persons, to take positions on oppression in our larger community, and to accomplish outreach. Confronting, and understanding our prejudices in a non-judgmental, non-threatening group will allow us to explore their origins and replace those prejudices with knowledge leading to individual spiritual growth and congregational unity.
Our immediate goal, then, is to form a Welcoming Congregation Committee made up of members committed to the goals as outlined, and including members of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, cultural and racial groups. Please contact Susan Koonce or John Schwob if you are willing to serve on this committee or if you would like additional information.