UCC Faith Community Nurses eNewsletter July 2017



July 2017, Volume 2, Issue 6

Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness

The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter

Mind, Body, Spirit:

Development of our LGBT Ministries

01-UCCemblem-Rainbow.pngSince 1969 our church, the United Church of Christ (UCC), has been active in promoting justice for people who are LGBT.  Actions voted at General Synod meetings by the delegates from our Conferences have placed the UCC at the forefront of creating an inclusive community of Christians that advocates for the protection of rights of all God’s children.

Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation given to congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

The ONA movement dates back to July 1985 when the 15th General Synod adopted a resolution Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming.” The resolution urged churches to adopt “covenants” to “welcome gay, lesbian and bisexual people to join our congregation in the same spirit and manner used in the acceptance of any new members.”

An explicit welcome for transgender Christians occurred in 2003 when the General Synod’s resolution “Affirming the Participation and Ministry of Transgender People” passed by a wide margin. Since then, the Coalition has required new ONA congregations to include “gender identity or expression” or similar words in their covenants.   Learn more at the Open and Affirming website and signup for the free electronic newsletter.

Health Ministry resources that support our LGBT Ministries

The following information and resources will enhance the ability of your health ministry to more effectively minister to all congregants regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

General information

LGBT is a common acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.  While L, G, B, and T are usually tied together as an acronym that suggests homogeneity, each letter represents a wide range of people of diverse race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, and identity.  What binds them together as social and gender minorities are their collective experiences of stigma and discrimination.  As a result, LGBT people face a common set of challenges in accessing culturally competent health services and achieving the highest possible level of health (National LGBT Health Education Center).  With information we can assist all our congregants in navigating health care challenges.

The “LGB” refers to sexual orientation and the “T” stands for transgender or gender non-conforming.  Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality is a pamphlet designed to provide accurate information to those who want to better understand sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.  Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression explains that transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that assigned to them at birth.  Both pamphlets are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian and Spanish in order to facilitate knowledge development.

Flags that indicate support and welcome

02-RainbowFlag.pngFirst flown in the 1978 “Gay Freedom Day” Parade in San Francisco the rainbow flag, which has undergone several revisions since then, now commonly has 6 stripes of color with the red stripe at the top as it would be in a natural rainbow. It is displayed as a symbol of pride and hope. 


03-TransFlag.pngTransgender individuals, organizations and communities have not yet coalesced around one single flag design.  Instead there are several flags used and endorsed.  The most prominent of these flag designs is the “Transgender Pride flag” which was created in 1999 and first displayed at a pride parade in Phoenix in 2000.  It is a symbol of transgender pride and diversity, and support for transgender rights.



We’ve all had days when we wonder if we are up to the task of providing spiritual, mental and emotional care for others when we are feeling unsure of our gifts and abilities.    

The words we choose to describe ourselves become powerful determinants of how we view our reality and this informs our experiences.  Instead of negative self-talk choose to use self-affirmations.  Self-affirmation theory, as presented by Steele in 1998, asserts that we experience well being and a sense of mental, emotional and spiritual alignment when we remind ourselves of our inherent value.  Create your own self-affirmations or modify ones you have heard or read. One you may choose to use is “I am a unique child of God.”   This reminds you that whoever you are, whatever gifts you have, you are just the way God intend you to be. This self-affirmation could easily become a Breath Prayer that you repeat throughout the day.


Evidence Based-Practice

Forty-three years ago homosexuality was removed as a category of disorder from the official list of mental disorders at that time.   Since then mental health providers have developed evidence-based resources to educate providers and consumers of heath care.  Brochures titled Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality  and Answers to Your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression may be downloaded for free. 



  • As part of our health ministry activities we often lead or co-lead study groups that explore the connection between body, mind and spiritThe Bible and the Transgender Experience – How Scripture Supports Gender Variance is available from Pilgrim Press. The book includes suggestions on how to make your congregation or group transgender friendly.  A Discussion Guide is available for a four- to five-week Bible Study or book discussion group.

Understanding Transgender People: The Basics.

Understanding Non-Binary People – How to Be Respectful and Supportive.

Supporting the Transgender People in Your Life: A guide to Being a Good Ally.

Transgender People and Bathroom Access.

Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People.




  • The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey Report (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States. Conducted in the summer of 2015 by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the USTS was an anonymous, online survey of transgender adults (18 and older) in the U.S.  The report provides evidence of the hardships and barriers faced by transgender people on a day-to-day basis.  The report concludes, “as the national conversation about transgender people continues to evolve, public education efforts to improve understanding and acceptance of transgender people are crucial”.  USTS reports for 13 individual states are available and additional state reports will be released throughout 2017.
  • A recent report, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness, estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of all runaway and homeless American youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, compared to 3 to 5 percent of the general population of youth.  LGBT youth are also more likely than their peers to contemplate or attempt suicide.  Providing these young people with support, safety, and respect can make a big difference. Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth with Open Arms  shares information about activities that provide safety, support, and respect for all.


  • Creating a friendly environment where all young people feel accepted, respected and valued is the responsibility of all staff and congregants.  The Working with LGBTQ Youth – Inclusivity Tip sheets  address how to create a safe or safer environment by intentionally practicing LBGTQ inclusivity.
  • The May 2017 issue of American Nurse Today published an extensive article on Nursing Communication and the Gender Identity Spectrum.  It provides information including how to ask about health promotions needs and medical concerns.  ANA members or subscribers to American Nurse Today may access the journal article on line.  Others may find it in the library of a local health facility or nursing school.  The complete citation is Vol. 12 No. 5, pgs 6-8, 10, & 11.
  • Unsure how to use the correct gender pronoun for a person?  The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center has developed a tool to help.  Gender Pronouns – Frequently Asked Questions  answers how and why to select the correct pronoun and how to advocate so a person is addressed accurately.
  • Just the Facts Coalition, a group of national education, health, mental health, and religious organizations believe that all students should have an opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment.   Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth provides information and resources for adults who work with youth and must confront sensitive issues involving gay, lesbian and bisexual students.

Website Blog

  • On the Faith Trust Institute web site there is a Blog: Lessons From Rebecca: Gender in the Bible .  It was written when there was political activity to repeal laws requiring that restrooms be accessible to transgender people rather than the gender on their birth certificate. “Some of the proponents of repealing these laws are faith communities believing that the Bible only accounts for two genders, male and female.”  However, the Bible’s Five Books of Moses (Torah) when read in its original language, Biblical Hebrew, provides one or more examples that this is not true.  The binary system of assignment as either male or female is a relatively new concept.

Continuing Education


  • National LGBT Health Education Center provides educational programs and resources with the goal of optimizing quality, cost-effective health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.  It offers a wide variety of educational materials including webinars and video trainings that will increase our understanding and facilitate us especially in our roles as health educators and advocates.  CEUs are available. The topics include:

–       Introduction to LGBT Health.  

–       Affirming LGBT People through Effective Communication.

–       Caring for LGBT Older Adults.

–       Achieving Health Equity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People.

–       Ten Things: Providing an Inclusive and Affirmative Health Care environment for LGBT People.

–       Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health: Prevention, Wellness, and Empowerment.

–       Meeting the Health Care Needs of Transgender People.

–       Caring for Gender Dysphoric Children and Adolescents.

A complete list of current and future presentations is available.

The Insurance Board On-line Learning has a schedule of free webinars for your church.  They are scheduled on Wednesdays from 2:00 – 3:00pm EST.  To register click here and choose what would be helpful to your ministry.

  • Fire Prevention and Protection for Churches
    Weds., July 12th  2:00-3:00 EST


  • Keeping Your Ministries Safe: 5 Things Churches Can Do to Prevent Abuse
    Weds. Sept. 13th 2:00-3:00 EST
  • How to Avoid Background Screening Litigation
    Weds. Oct. 11th 2:00-3:00 EST
    Key compliance tips to help your church safely obtain and use background checks.


06-HMAlogo.pngHealth Ministries Association National Conference – Sept. 11th -13th, Erlanger, KY (near Cincinnati, OH) The Sacred Practice of Caring: Working Together for Healthier Communities     Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund, a UCC pastor and currently VP for Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Vice-chair of the UCC Mental Health Networks is a keynote speaker.  As always we UCC FCNs will have breakfast together.  Hope you can make it! 


Some dates provide the opportunity to integrate health ministry activities with programming of other ministries.

Sept. 9th         Faith Formation Sunday   

Sept. 30th       American Indian Ministry Sunday
                       United Samoan Ministries Stewardship Sunday

Oct. 7th           World Wide Communion Sunday

Oct. 8th           Indigenous People Day

Oct. 14th         Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week

Oct. 21st         Children’s Sabbath

Oct. 28th         UCC Higher Education Sunday


Looking for something you remember reading last year but you don’t remember in which issue of 2016 it occurred?
A topical Index now is posted on the UCC website with the list of those newsletters so that you may more easily find the information!

06a-QuestionMark.pngHave something you want to share with your colleagues?
Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry?
That which we share with others multiplies immeasurably.

Contact Peggy Matteson