- Open and Affirming
You can help shape the future of the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ.
At General Synod this summer, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the General Synod resolution that launched the ONA movement. In the past three decades our movement has grown from six to more than 1,300 congregations, from 0.1 to 26 percent of the United Church of Christ, from about 3,000 members of our church to nearly a quarter million—the largest and fastest-growing LGBT-affirming church movement in the world!
During those decades the Coalition has led our church towards a vision of a community gathered in the name of Jesus Christ where all are wanted, all are welcome, no one is left behind.
But 2016 will be a turning point for our movement. This will be the year we begin our journey towards becoming a 100% Open and Affirming church.
■ We’re proud our movement is growing fast—at a rate of almost two new ONA churches a week. But most UCC congregations are still unable to offer a confident and well-informed welcome to their LGBT neighbors. In a 100% Open and Affirming church, every congregation in the United Church of Christ will be a safe place for LGBT Christians and their families.
■ LGBT youth across America are still threatened by bullying and suicide. In a 100% Open and Affirming church, every UCC congregation will advocate for strong anti-bullying and suicide-prevention policies in public, charter and private schools. And every UCC congregation will be a safe space for LGBT youth.
■ Transgender citizens still struggle for respect, and the suicide rate among transgender Americans is higher than any other group. In a 100% Open and Affirming church, every UCC congregation will welcome transgender seekers and stand with them when their rights and worth as human beings are under attack.
■ LGBT seniors often face abuse and neglect in retirement communities and nursing homes. At a time when they’re physically and emotionally vulnerable, LGBT seniors too often are forced back into the closet. Many of them are looking for community, but don’t know there are LGBT-affirming churches that will welcome them. In a 100% Open and Affirming church, every UCC congregation will reach out to their aging LGBT neighbors, and will advocate for their safety and their dignity.
■ In a savage reaction to the emancipation of LGBT communities in North America and Western Europe, 80 countries with an estimated LGBT population of 105 million have adopted laws criminalizing their LGBT citizens. Laws penalizing “homosexual behavior” are often a signal to vigilantes that they can assault and murder their gay, lesbian and gender non-conforming neighbors with impunity. As a result, LGBT refugees are increasingly seeking asylum in the United States, but lack sponsors and support structures. In a 100% Open and Affirming church, LGBT asylum-seekers will be welcome in UCC congregations throughout the country.
Our goal: a church where every congregation is Open and Affirming, and where every Open and Affirming church fully embraces the potential of their ONA covenant. We can reach that goal, but we need your help!
The Coalition is an independent non-profit, and our national ONA program receives no regular funding from Our Church’s Wider Mission. More than 60 percent of our budget depends on gifts from individuals and ONA congregations. Your gift–large or small–will make a difference in the lives of countless LGBT seekers who still have not heard the message that there is a church where they and their families are safe.
Here’s how your support will change our church.
■ We’ll expand resources, training programs and our churchwide network of ONA consultants to help congregations work towards an ONA covenant in ways that build consensus and reduce conflict.
■ We’ll launch a series of webinars and workshops to train ONA churches in the best practices for advocacy, evangelism, communication and growth.
■ We’ll support ONA congregations in their advocacy for LGBT youth, seniors and asylum-seekers.
■ We’ll build ONA support structures in every Conference of the United Church of Christ.
In 2016, you can be part of a revival of the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ. Together, we can reclaim the vision of our movement’s founders in 1985: of a church where not some, but all congregations live out Christ’s call for justice, reconciliation and peace. We can be a 100% Open and Affirming church, and you can make it happen!
To contribute, you can make a secure online donation. And if your congregation doesn’t already pledge to the Coalition’s ONA ministry, please use this pledge form. Your contribution is tax-deductible. Please share this letter with your friends, and encourage the leadership of your congregation to make a special gift to the Coalition. Thank you for keeping faith with the vision of the Open and Affirming movement!
If you prefer to send a paper check, please write “The Coalition” and mail to:
Open and Affirming Coalition
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
Your tax-free contribution to the Open and Affirming Coalition will grow the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ, strengthen ministry and mission in existing ONA churches, and help us be the voice and hands of the ONA movement as we work together for a church and a world where all are welcome, all are wanted, no one is left out!
Remember that the Coalition is an independent non-profit. We receive no regular funding from Our Church’s Wider Mission, although we do work in close partnership with the UCC’s national ministries. The national ONA program is funded by your contributions!
Does your ONA congregation support the Open and Affirming Coalition? If all of our 1,200 churches pledged annually to the Coalition, the financial basis for our ministry of inclusion and justice would be secure. Please download and use this pledge card for ONA congregations!
If you or your congregation needs a report on the Coalition’s program and budget, or if you’ve any questions, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-736-3789.