Written by Connie Larkman
The UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns is making a significant turn as it celebrates its 40th anniversary and approaches the annual National Gathering June 25-28 at UCC-related Elmhurst (Ill.) College.
"The Coalition survived the worst financial crisis in its history last year, and is seizing opportunities for renewed ministry and advocacy in our church," said Coalition executive director Andy Lang. "This National Gathering will showcase a new spirit, new energy and a new plan for growing the Open and Affirming (ONA) movement beyond its present boundaries."
During the National Gathering, the Coalition will welcome the UCC’s 1,000th Open and Affirming congregation –– Pillar of Love Fellowship UCC in Chicago.
The theme of the 2012 Gathering is "Prophecy, Legacy, Possibility,” and workshops will focus on mission and evangelism in ONA congregations, said Lang.
"We're extending a special invitation to ONA churches,” he said. "They'll find this Gathering a unique opportunity to deepen their covenant and to learn best practices for ONA ministry from other churches."
LGBTQ young adults will lead a panel on "Prophecy and Possibility: the Future of LGTBQ Advocacy and Ministry." A panel of Coalition veterans including the Rev. Bill Johnson will lead "Prophecy and Legacy: Steps on a 40-year Journey." In 1972, Johnson became a principal founder of the UCC Gay Caucus. The group later became the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns.
Keynote speaker at the Coalition's annual ONA banquet will be the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister for Local Church Ministries and a member of the UCC's Collegium of Officers. The Rev. Da Vita McCallister, minister for youth and young adult ministry in the Connecticut Conference, will preach during opening worship. The presiding Bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, will preach at closing worship.
Pre-events for young adults and ONA consultants begin June 25.
With support from UCC national ministries, the Coalition is providing scholarships for any young adults (ages 18-34) who otherwise would not be able to attend, said Lang. Requests should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for early-bird discount registration is May 31. Read more about the National Gathering, including registration information.