UUFT has been proclaimed a "Welcoming Congregation" (click here for a full definition on UUA.org) by the Unitarian Universalist Association's Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns. We were the third congregation in Kansas to earn this status and now almost all UU fellowships or churches in the state are Welcoming.
The UUA Welcoming Congregation Process
The Welcoming Congregation Program is a completely volunteer program for congregations that see a need to become more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. It consists of a series of workshops developed by the UUA. The goal of the workshops is to reduce prejudice by increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations. Some of the workshop titles include: How Homophobia Hurts Heterosexuals; Connections to Other Forms of Oppression; Gender Socialization and Homophobia; and Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality.
Many congregations offer the workshop series several consecutive times as an adult religious education curriculum open to all members and friends. In some congregations the workshop series (and later the entire program) is sponsored by a Welcoming Congregation Task Force/Committee created for just this purpose, while other congregations sponsor the workshop series through their Interweave chapters. In either case, the workshops are best facilitated by those that have experienced the curriculum. Congregations who publicly and successfully welcome bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people have the following qualities:
- Includes and address the needs of b/g/l/t persons at every level of congregational life˜in worship, in programs, in social occasions, and in rites of passage˜welcoming not only their presence, but the gifts and particularities of their lives as well.
- Assumes the presence of b/g/l/t people and celebrates this diversity by having inclusive language and content in their worship.
- Fully incorporates the experiences of b/g/l/t persons throughout all programs, including religious education.
- Includes an affirmation and nondiscrimination clause in our by-laws and other official documents affecting all dimensions of congregational life, including membership, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals.
- Engages in outreach into the b/g/l/t community in its advertising and by actively supporting b/g/l/t affirmative groups.
- Offers congregational and ministerial support for union and memorial services for b/g/l/t persons, and for celebrations of...family definitions.
- Celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes same-sex couples, recognizing their committed relationships, and equally affirms displays of caring and affections without regard to sexual orientation.
- Seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue between bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust and sharing.