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Welcoming Congregation
HISTORY

In 1987 the Unitarian Universalist Association established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee found many negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance about bisexual, gay, and lesbian people, which resulted in the exclusion of bisexual, gay, and lesbian people from their churches. As a result of these findings, the delegates of the 1989 UUA General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to initiate the Welcoming Congregation program to educate its members. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet its goals and each unique situation can bring positive changes to individuals and congregations. After completing the Program, our congregation voted unanimously to become a Welcoming Congregation in 1998. Since then our Interweave Committee continues the work begun by the Welcoming Congregation Program.

WHAT IS THE WELCOMING CONGREGATION PROGRAM?
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. 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WELCOMING CONGREGATION?

Hamilton First publicly welcomes bisexual, gay, lesbian and/or transgender people in many ways. Specifically, we:

  1. Include 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.
  2. Assume the presence of b/g/l/t people and celebrate this diversity by having inclusive language and content in our worship.
  3. Fully incorporate the experiences of b/g/l/t persons throughout all programs, including religious education.
  4. Include 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
  5. Engage in outreach into the b/g/l/t community in our advertising and by actively supporting b/g/l/t affirmative groups
  6. Offer congregational and ministerial support for wedding, infant dedications, and funeral and memorial services for b/g/l/t persons, and for celebrations of differing family definitions.
  7. Celebrate the lives of all people and welcome same-sex couples, recognizing their committed relationships, and equally affirm displays of caring and affection without regard to sexual orientation.
  8. Seek to nurture ongoing dialogue between bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust and sharing.
  9. Encourage the presence of an Interweave Committee.
  10. Affirm and celebrate b/g/l/t issues and history during the church year.
  11. Attend to legislative developments and works to promote justice, freedom, and equality in the larger society.
  12. Speak out when the rights of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people are at stake.
  13. Celebrate the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other.
For more information, visit the UUA's Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns. Their Vision Statement reads" The Office is guided by the vision that someday we will be able to put ourselves out of business and that oppression against bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people, whether it be overt or subtle, will be a thing of the past. '

Member Canadian Unitarian Council
The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton
170 Dundurn Street South
Hamilton ON  L8P 4K3
Phone: 905-527-8441  Fax: 905-527-6420

General Email: info@firstunitarianhamilton.org