About our LGBT Ministries

Open and Affirming is the way many in the United Church of Christ (UCC) declare welcome and inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), same gender loving (SGL) persons into the full life and ministry of the church.

The message of love and compassion, justice and peace are at the very core of the life and ministry of Jesus. Open and Affirming (ONA) ministries and resources are rooted in that Gospel message. The testimonies of these ministries proclaim the truth of God’s power to transform cultures of hate and violence into communities of healing and reconciliation. They give witness to God’s continuing testament and how the gifts of God are being liberated for service in the world.

The first national UCC body to affirm civil rights for LGBT people did so in 1969.  The Council for Christian Social Action, a predecessor body to Justice andWitness Ministries adopted the “Resolution on Homosexuals and the Law.”  In 1972, the UCC ordained the first openly gay person into ministry, the Rev. William R. Johnson. In 1985, the UCC’s General Synod declared itself to be “open and affirming” and called upon all settings of the church to become similarly poised to welcome LGBT persons as full members of the church.  Click here for a timeline.

Although not everyone in the UCC is of the same mind concerning human sexuality*, the Open and Affirming movement for full inclusion of LGBT persons continues to spread throughout all aspects of our denomination’s life and witness. There are now more than 1,700 ONA churches and increasingly, the values that shape the ministry and witness of UCC are:

  • Continuing testament
  • Extravagant welcome
  • Changing lives

Congregations and other expressions of the church are encouraged to engage in the ONA process.  A toolkit, training, educational resources, consultation and technical assistant are available to help you assess where you are on the journey and design a process to fit the life and culture of your congregation or organization.

* Note on UCC Polity:
The Open and Affirming work of the national setting of the UCC is guided by a significant body of resolutions adopted by the General Synod of the UCC, the representative governance body of the national setting. In the UCC, the local church is the basic unit of mission and it has autonomy to determine its own mission as it discerns God’s call. In other words, the UCC is not organized in a hierarchical way and the actions of the General Synod are not binding on UCC local churches or other settings. It is our commitment to be in covenantal relationship with each other that binds us together as a denomination, however, this means there is some diversity among our members, local churches, and other settings regarding “Open and Affirming,” sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.