We are a Welcoming Congregation
The Story of the “Welcoming Congregation” at UUCWC
In 1988 six members of UUCWC formed the Working Group for Gay and Lesbian issues (WGGLI) and held an “envisioning event” with 25 members of the Social Responsibility Committee. This was the beginning of a formal focus on same-sex issues.
Meanwhile on the national level, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which had been on record since 1970 as supporting the rights and worth of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, found that there were still negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance in UU congregations. This “troubled many people who were committed to making UU congregations welcoming and inclusive places for all people, especially minority groups who have traditionally experienced exclusion, discrimination, and misrepresentation within our society. Citing the principles of our UU faith—especially the one that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person—the 1989 General Assembly voted to initiate the Welcoming Congregation Program. In short order, the Welcoming Congregation Handbook was developed and published in 1990, bringing together 10 workshops and other resources for helping congregations intentionally take steps to welcome people of all sexual orientations. (1)
UUCWC began working toward being a welcoming congregation in 1990, carrying out all of the required activities. In 1991 we were the fifth congregation in the nation to earn the UUA designation of “Welcoming Congregation” and we have been committed to welcoming members of the LGBT community ever since.
But by 2009, there were many new members of UUCWC who had not participated in any of the activities or workshops that had been held twenty years earlier. In addition, delegates to General Assembly that year learned about Living the Welcoming Congregation (LWC), a new handbook that provided tools for updating the congregation’s knowledge (especially of bisexuality and transgender identity, neither of which had been included in the first Welcoming Congregation Handbook).
Standing on the Side of Love at UUCWC, in cooperation with Adult RE, offered our LWC program through a series of workshops and additional activities using the Living the Welcoming Congregation Handbook supplemented by the Interweave curriculum on Bisexuality and Human Rights Campaign’s Gender Identity and our Faith Communities curriculum. Over a two-year period approximately 25% of UUCWC members participated in part or all of the LWC program workshops.
The Living the Welcoming Congregation program will be offered again in the spring of 2014. Standing on the Side of Love at UUCWC believes that continuing to provide this program – both to new members and visitors as well as to those who were unable to participate previously – is essential. Being a Welcoming Congregation has been part of UUCWC’s identity for over twenty years. The Living the Welcoming Congregation program helps us remain strong in our commitments.