Neighbourhood UU Congregation has completed the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) “Welcoming Congregation” program and has passed a congregational vote to affirm that it welcomes the membership and active participation of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and/or transgender people. Certificate presented to Neighbourhood at the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual Conference in Ottawa, May 19, 2008.
- To make the lives of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people a little better each day.
- To serve all bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people in their struggle for justice.
- To help all people understand how biphobia, heterosexism, homophobia, racism, sexism, and transphobia hurt all of us.
- To help people understand that dismantling heterosexism also means dismantling ableism, ageism, classism, racism, sexism, and all other oppressions.
- To transform Unitarian Universalism into a completely Welcoming Association.
From the “Welcoming Congregation Program” brochure by Art Brewer:
Why single out Bi-Sexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender (BGLT) people?
Unitarian Universalist minister Allison Barrett says: “Because of the role that religion has historically played in denying gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people their full humanity, I believe that we now have a special calling to reach out to our BGLT sisters and brothers. We need to offer an explicit welcome, because the world can still be a very unwelcoming place. We need to offer radical acceptance, because neither family nor society can always be counted on to be accepting. We need to offer unconditional love because Love is at the heart of religious community.”
Aren’t We Already Welcoming?While a congregation may consider itself welcoming, and may even have openly gay or lesbian members, certification provides a simple and credible tool to enable the congregation to declare itself to the community as a safe space for BGLT persons.
Don’t We Welcome Everyone?
We most certainly want to, but we live in communities, and are part of a culture, in which prejudice still exists. As Unitarians and Universalists we fervently believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, but we also acknowledge our own susceptibility to bias. Discovering and confronting these (sometimes unrecognized) prejudices in a non-judgmental, non-threatening group allows us to explore their origins and offers an opportunity to replace prejudice with knowledge. This in turn leads to individual spiritual growth and a congregation which does indeed welcome everyone.