Open and Affirming
A Declaration of Open and Affirming
Adopted June 9, 2011
Zion United Church of Christ opens its doors in welcome to those in our community who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and affirms their right as Christians to share in the love and teachings of Jesus Christ.
By this statement, Zion UCC accepts and takes for its own the General Synod's declaration that our LGBT sons, daughters, friends and neighbors are welcome in the full life and ministry of the church.
In March 2011, the members of the Open and Affirming Leadership Team at Zion came before the members and friends of Zion United Church of Christ, with a few words about the journey upon which we were about to embark. Explorations included input from church members, both directly and with notes and letters. The committee provided resources about ONA and issues pertaining to being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered and a Christian. The issue was discussed during Adult Sunday School, and the church hosted two well-attended screenings of the film, "For the Bible Tells Me So."
The committee also visited Edwards United Church of Christ Congregational, in Davenport, to learn from its pastor and members how it became open and affirming, and what that meant for the church.
As as result of that effort, a decision to become Open and Affirming was referred to the consistory for adoption in June 2011.
Introducing Open and Affirming
ONA — which is the shorthand version of “open and affirming” — traces its roots in the United Church of Christ to 1985, when the General Synod voted to adopt a statement (read it online) calling on all UCC churches to declare themselves open and affirming to people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. The UCC Coalition then launched the ONA program in 1987. In 2003, the General Synod approved a statement affirming the place of transgendered individuals in the church.
According to the UCC Coalition website, ucccoalition.org, the "central affirmation" of ONA is: "people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions" (or 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people') are welcome in the full life and ministry of the church." By declaring themselves open and affirming, UCC churches say to LGBT members of their communities “you are welcome here.” If Zion became open and affirming, we would be making a clear statement to the world — the Zion church community accepts LGBT people and affirms their right to share in the love and teachings of Jesus Christ.
There are more than hundreds of ONA churches acrosst the United States. Zion was the 11th UCC church in Iowa to declare itself Open and Affirming.
The award-winning documentary, "For the Bible Tells Me So," (trailer above), was screened twice for members of the Zion church family and for the broader community. A copy of the DVD, and of "Through My Eyes," (trailer below), a short documentary in which young LGBT Christians describe their experiences in the church, also were made available to church members for private viewing at home.
Some Resources from the Burlington Public Library
“Gifted by Otherness: Gays and Lesbians in the Church” (261.835 COU)
“Homosexuality: The Test Case for Christian Sexual Ethics” (261.835 HAN)
“Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law” (346.7301 POL)
“Amazing Grace: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith” (208 AMA)
“We Were Baptized Too: Claiming God’s Grace for Lesbians and Gays” (261.835 ALE)
“Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations” (261.835 EQU)
“A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics” (306.87 JOH)
“What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality” (208 HEL)
“What God has Joined Together? The Christian Case for Gay Marriage” (261.835 MYE)
“Power of Harmony” (DOC DVD POW)
“Stories From the War on Homosexuality” (DOC DVD STO)
Burlington Public Library
210 Court Street, Burlington, Iowa 52601
Additional online resources
- Whosoever.org, an Online Magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Christians
- Gay Christian Network, a website dedicated to Christian LGBT issues
- UCC Coalition, a group within the United Church of Christ which offers support to LGBT members, and to churches considering ONA.