Welcoming Congregation

What Is a Welcoming Congregation?

rainbow_chalice_soft_gradientA congregation that publicly and successfully welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people has the following qualities:

  • Includes and addresses the needs of GLBT persons at every level of congregational life, welcoming not only their presence but the gifts and particularities of their lives as well.
  • Assumes the presence of GLBT people and celebrates this diversity by having inclusive language and content in worship.
  • Fully incorporates the experiences of GLBT persons throughout all programs, including religious education.
  • Includes an affirmation and a nondiscrimination clause in its bylaws and other official documents that affect all dimensions of congregational life.
  • Engages in outreach to the GLBT community.
  • Offers congregational and minstrial support for rites of passage for GLBT persons, including services of union and memorial services.
  • Celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes same-gender couples, recognizing their committed relationships.
  • Seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust and sharing.
  • Affirms and celebrates GLBT issues and history during the church year.
  • Keeps watch on legislative developments at all jurisdictional levels which affect GLBT persons.
  • Speaks out when the rights of GLBT persons are at stake.
  • Celebrates the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other.

The History of MUUS as a Welcoming Congregation

Feeling the need to become more responsive to the needs of GLBT people, a group of MUUS members came together as a committee in 1999 to explore the possibility of our congregation becoming a Welcoming Congregation.

Guided by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) handbook published for this purpose, the committee members learned about the effects of homophobia on GLBT people through a series of workshops, panel discussions, and sensitivity exercises over a period of approximately 18 months.

Also during this period we sponsored a panel whose members explained what effect their sexual orientation had on their lives and how a child’s sexual orientation affected a parent.

Our minister at the time, Reverend Bonnie Vegiard, facilitated two discussions for the congregation which explored the religious roots of homophobia.

On November 5, 2000, the members of the Mattatuck Unitarian Universalist Society unanimously supported by our Board of Trustees, voted overwhelmingly to become a Welcoming Congregation.