West Center Congregational Church becomes UCC Open and Affirming Church #1358!
Why Was an "Open and Affirming Covenant" Vote Taken at the Annual Meeting on April 24, 2016?
The Board of Deacons proposed that West Center Congregational Church become an "Open And Affirming" (ONA) Congregation of the United Church of Christ. Open and Affirming UCC Congregations write and vote upon a covenant (promise), that their church will be open and affirming of all people: particularly those of "lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation" and transgender people," supporting their civil and human rights.
The draft of our ONA Covenant was developed by Deacon Charlotte Johnson and Pastor John Barrett, and approved by the Board of Deacons and the Church Council. The draft was also presented at a special meeting of the Congregation on February 14, 2016, for discussion, and some changes were made for greater clarification.
Our Covenant states what West Center Church does already and what it has done, at least throughout the 15 years that I have been on the staff: welcome everyone. As we sometimes say, "Come as you are. Leave as you would be." Although gay marriage has been affirmed by the Supreme Court, many state legislatures are trying to roll back rights for all people in the so-called name of religious freedom.
Therefore I think it is especially important that West Center Congregational Church, UCC, stand with the other 1357 UCC churches that have become "Open and Affirming" since this designation began in 1986. That we are "Open and Affirming" is a sign to those looking for a church home that we are a welcoming church, believing in "liberty and justice for all." I think it is important that we stand up and are counted.
After thoughtful discussion, our West Center Church "Open and Affirming" (ONA) Covenant was approved unanimously by vote of the Congregation at the Annual Meeting on April 24, 2016.
WEST CENTER CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, UCC OPEN & AFFIRMING (ONA) COVENANT
Discussed and Unanimously Approved at the Annual Meeting on April 24, 2016
Because God creates all people in God's own image and calls it "very good." (1)
And because "Jesus Christ calls us into his church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be his servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world, and resist the powers of evil," (2)
And because "West Center Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ firmly believes that gender, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, and race do not limit access to leadership positions, membership, participation in the life and work of the Church, and eligibility to receive Church sacraments and services." (3)
And because "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (4)
West Center Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, hereby covenants to welcome all, as an "Open & Affirming" Congregation of the UCC. (5)
(1) Genesis1:1 (2) UCC Statement of Faith (3) West Center Bylaws (4) God is Still Speaking Motto (5) The 1985 General Synod passes a resolution that "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 and bisexual orientation within the community of faith." The 2003 General Synod votes for a resolution "Affirming the Participation and Ministry of Transgender People within the UCC and Supporting their Civil and Human Rights."