Thursday, March 27, 2014

UUCiA Celebrates 20 Years as an LGBTQ "Welcoming Congregation"

Addendum: Pulpit/altar on March 30, 2014.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover will celebrate 20 years as an LGBTQ “Welcoming Congregation” at our worship service this Sunday, March 30, at 10:30 a.m. The “Welcoming Congregation Program” is an initiative launched by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1990 in order to help congregations who want to be intentionally welcoming and inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons.

In 1994, twenty years ago, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover was among the very early congregations to be certified as “Welcoming” by the UUA. According to the UUA’s website (uua.org), “Today, 66% of U.S. Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations… are recognized as Welcoming Congregations”.

People forget how different things were twenty years ago.  By coincidence, I came out as lesbian twenty years ago myself as a student in divinity school.  The climate was very different then, even here in Massachusetts. In those times, a very small minority of congregations really understood the issues involved.  I am the first openly LGBTQ minister to serve the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, though the congregation has had openly LGBTQ members for all of these twenty years.

This Sunday’s special Welcoming Congregation worship service will be primarily organized and led by the congregation’s lay led Worship Committee, in particular by Andover resident Nancy Mulvey, who is also the congregation’s representative in the LGBTQ Welcoming Communities of Faith working group (more commonly called “Welcoming Faiths”). Welcoming Faiths is a “coalition of LGBTQ welcoming congregations of faith promoting equality and inclusivity within our greater communities based in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts” (welcomingfaiths.blogspot.com).  In addition to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, other Andover congregations who are members of Welcoming Faiths include Ballard Vale United Church of Andover, Christ Church (Episcopal) Andover, Havurat Shalom, South Church in Andover, and West Parish Church of Andover (in addition to other congregations in the Merrimack Valley).

As part of the twenty year celebration, we will show “Through Gay Eyes”, an excellent locally made documentary, on Friday, March 28, at 7 p.m.  Deb Fowler, one of the two makers of the documentary, will be present at the screening and for Q&A afterwards. See details at this link.