Open and Affirming

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2016-06 UCC Pride Month

St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lansdale officially claimed our identity as an “Open and Affirming” (ONA) congregation in 2015.  Please join with us in prayers and celebration as we seek to live out the words that we have pledged to follow, that truly ALL are welcome to worship and participate in the life of St. John’s UCC!

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Did you know?  Our United Church of Christ denomination has a special Facebook page for discussion of issues of interest to the Christian LGBTQ community. Click to connect to the UCC LGBTQ Ministries Facebook page

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Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for 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. St. John’s UCC Lansdale is proud to claim this designation as an Open and Affirming congregation!

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The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the UCC, and equips UCC congregations to become effective witnesses to Christ’s extravagant welcome. Click here for more about UCC Open & Affirming churches

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It is our intention at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lansdale to be welcoming of EVERYONE who comes to worship with us – including those who are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  If we fail in this goal in any way, please feel free to speak openly with our pastors.  We want everyone to feel free to worship with us and join in all of our activities, social functions and mission work, week after week.  We are happy to welcome all individuals, couples, and families with gender diverse members to all events at our church.  Please consider visiting us or making us your church home!

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Our United Church of Christ denomination is a leader in seeking justice on issues affecting the LGBT community and beyond.  Please go to the UCC Justice website for the latest discussion on the important issues of today.  Click for link to the UCC LGBT Issues, Ministries and Concerns Website

This banner hangs on the front porch of St. John’s UCC!

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Our St. John’s Mission Statement: “As a community of learners and seekers, created in God’s image and called to follow Christ, we the members of St. John’s United Church of Christ: honor our past while looking to the future with hope and living fully in the present; commit ourselves to proclaiming the Good News of Christ through our words and actions, both within this faith community and beyond; seek to reach out to persons from all walks of life, affirming and celebrating diversity as one of God’s finest gifts. as we journey together, we seek to be responsible stewards of God’s creation, keenly aware of our connections to one another and convinced of the grace, mercy and justice of a gentle loving God.”

Click the LGBTQ link below for additional UCC Resources: 

LGBTQ

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Our UCC LGBTQ Ministries Facebook page also connects to the Facebook page of the National LGBTQ Task Force.  Click to connect to National LGBTQ Task Force Facebook page

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In the Spring of 2015 the Huffington Post posted an article “Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely Is a Choice” by John Pavlovitz that was reposted by Rev. Sue on our St. John’s Facebook page: Click to link to Huffington Post article 183846_298745156891804_926920935_n

In 2015 the UCC celebrated 30 years of advocacy for LGBTQ equality.  Read more from the UCC website here

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01_Logo_UCC_LGBTThe Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia is an advocate for all persons of all faiths in the Delaware Valley area. Click for Interfaith Center website
10647037_556913161075001_2950852634902352107_n United Church of Christ Office for LGBTQ Ministries Wider Church Ministries/Justice and Witness Ministries The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer Executive and Minister for LGBT Ministries, HIV & AIDS, and Sexuality Education Email: LGBT@ucc.org Phone: 216-736-3217 Websites:  LGBT Ministries  HIV & AIDS  Sexuality Education LGBTQ Image 5-15

Do you know anyone in any type of relationship suffering from domestic violence? There are local organizations to help.  Click for Laurel House website  Click for Women’s center of Montgomery County website

Resolution Calling on UCC Congregations to Covenant as Open and Affirming

WHEREAS, the Apostle Paul said that, as Christians, we are many members, but we are one body in Christ (Rom. 12:4), and Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. 12:31) without being judgmental (Mt. 7:1-2) nor disparaging of others (Lk. 18:9-14); and

WHEREAS, recognizing that many persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation are already members of the Church through baptism and confirmation and that these people have talents and gifts to offer the United Church of Christ, and that the UCC has historically affirmed a rich diversity in its theological and Biblical perspectives; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth through Fourteenth General Synods have adopted resolutions encouraging the inclusion, and affirming the human rights, of lesbian, gay and bisexual people within the UCC; and

WHEREAS, the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ adopted in 1980 “a program of Equal Employment Opportunity which does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of… sexual orientation”; and

WHEREAS, many parts of the Church have remained conspicuously silent despite the continuing injustice of institutionalized discrimination, instances of senseless violence and setbacks in civil rights protection by the Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the Church has often perpetuated discriminatory practices and has been unwilling to affirm the full humanness of clergy, laity and staff with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation, who experience isolation, ostracism and fear of (or actual) loss of employment; and

WHEREAS, we are called by Christ’s example, to proclaim release to the captives and set at liberty the oppressed (Lk. 4:18); and

WHEREAS, examples of covenant of Openness and Affirmation and Non-discrimination Policy may be found in the following:  Example 1:  Covenant of openness and affirmation  We know, with Paul, that as Christians, we are many members, but are one body in ChristÑmembers of one another, and that we all have different gifts. With Jesus, we affirm that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, that we are called to act as agents of reconciliation and wholeness within the world and within the Church itself.

We know that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are often scorned by the church, and devalued and discriminated against both in the Church and in society. We commit ourselves to caring and concern for lesbian, gay and bisexual sisters and brothers by affirming that:  We believe that lesbian, gay and bisexual people share with all others the worth that comes from being unique individuals,  We welcome lesbian, gay and bisexual people to join our congregation in the same spirit and manner used in the acceptance of any new members,

We recognize the presence of ignorance, fear and hatred in the Church and in our culture, and covenant to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, nor any other irrelevant factor, and we seek to include and support those who, because of this fear and prejudice, find themselves in exile from a spiritual community,

We seek to address the needs and advocate the concerns of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in our Church and in society by actively encouraging churches, instrumentalities and secular governmental bodies to adopt and implement policies of non-discrimination, and further,  We join together as a covenantal community, to celebrate and share our common communion and the reassurance that we are indeed created by God, reconciled by Christ and empowered by the grace of the Holy Spirit;

Example 2:  Inclusive non-discrimination policy – We do not discriminate against any person, group or organization in hiring, promotion, membership, appointment, use of facility, provision of services or funding on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, faith, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, or physical disability;

THEREFORE, the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policy with regard to sexual orientation; encourages association conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay or bisexual orientation within the community of faith.  No financial implications.

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