I wanted to share with you an important change beginning in 2019 for the UUA’s “Welcoming Congregation” Program. The Welcoming Congregation Program is designed to help UU congregations live out their commitment to be welcoming to all people, and specifically to be welcoming to all sexual orientations, gender identities, and forms of gender expression. Today, the great majority of UU congregations (more than 800 of our 1,000+ UU congregations) are Welcoming Congregations.
UUI proudly became a Welcoming Congregation in 2003 as an expression of our core conviction that all forms of love and all gender identities are beautiful, and that we are enriched collectively when we are all free to live as our authentic selves. We also recognize that the society in which we live does not always practice these same values, and so we share a common commitment as a religious community, grounded in our UU principles, to work for justice for LGBTQ people.
With these values and commitments in mind, I was troubled by three separate items yesterday that came across my news feed:
A news report that the U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated the President’s ban on transgender people serving in the military;
House Bill 1525, introduced into the 2019 Indiana General Assembly, which would prevent public schools from accommodating transgender youth in use of restrooms appropriate for their gender identity;
A report from TRUUsT (Transgender Religious Professional UUs Together) surveying transgender UUs for the first time, who report not feeling as welcome in our congregations as we aspire for them to be.
With the right of transgender people simply to exist currently under attack, our congregations need more than ever to be places of welcome, spiritual care, support, and healing for our trans siblings. We need to be fully living into our commitment to be a Welcoming Congregation.
In 2019 the UUA is launching a new program by which congregations can annually re-certify their status as Welcoming Congregations. It is called The Five Practices of Welcoming Renewal, and you can learn about the five steps here. I am happy to report that UUI’s commitment to welcoming and LGBTQ inclusion is such that we already live out most of these practices. The UUI staff, with the support of the Board of Trustees, will help guide the congregation over the course of the coming year in those areas where we need deeper engagement.
If you are interested in learning more about this commitment or would like to help be a leader in this important work, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do:
Subscribe to UPLIFT, the quarterly newsletter from the UUA's LGBTQ Ministries
Learn more about Indiana Youth Group, which UUI supports through our Share the Plate program.
Learn about the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education program, which provides fact-based, shame free and LGBTQ supportive sexuality education to our UU youth,
Call and write your representatives: be an advocate for LGBTQ people in local and national issues,
Support an LGBTQ organization financially or with your time or expertise.
I’ll close this letter with a prayer from the Reverend Theresa Soto, “Prayer for Trans Justice”:
We come to you with words of grief,
but also, silent rage. We know that You
have made us and called us:
We are trans. And we are holy.
We are intersex. And we are sacred.
We are gender-diverse. And we are divine.
We know that Justice is
always on the side of the
Oppressed. Stay on our side now,
Creator. Call your people
to this place. Remind them
that Love is
more than saying.
Love is being and doing.
May it be so with our community.