Members of Congregational United Church of Christ, Ogden, Utah, voted June 16 to become an Open and Affirming congregation, welcoming “all individuals – be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or heterosexual – and all families – be they single parents, couples, nuclear, blended, extended or stepparents.”
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations and other bodies in the UCC that make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.
Leading up to this vote, the congregation’s LGBT Affairs Team led a series of study sessions about the ONA process, sexual orientation, gender identity and family relationships. Each Sunday afternoon for seven weeks, participants prayed, discussed and listened. LGBT guests, families and allies were invited to help shed light on what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, raise a family, come out to family and friends, and live a life of faith. The programs were attended by more than 20 people each week.
The Rev. Pat Gamble-Hovey of Holladay United Church of Christ was instrumental in helping the team plan and carry out the programs. Guests from as far away as Pennsylvania (Steve Damon’s son, Fred) attended. During worship on May 19, Mona Stevens, also of Holladay UCC, delivered a touching and heartfelt message about her own journey as a lesbian.
The Statement of Openness and Affirmation reads:
We seek to be a community of Christian believers who respect one another’s differences regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or family structure.
We welcome all individuals – be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or heterosexual – and all families – be they single parents, couples, nuclear, blended, extended or stepparents – as they strive to function faithfully in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christ’s principles of love, justice, grace and mercy.
Congregational United Church of Christ, Ogden, Utah, declares itself to be Open and Affirming of women and men of all ages, races, abilities and sexual orientations who desire to share in its services, its leadership and its activities.
The LGBT Affairs Team consists of Marty Mayo and Tom Szalay (co-chairs), Leslie Chevalier, Steve Damon, David Guymon, Kevin McCloskey and Tim Sharp.