HISTORY congregations sponsor the workshop series through • Fully incorporates the experiences of b/g/l/t their Interweave chapters. In either case, the persons throughout all programs, including In 1987 the Unitarian Universalist Association workshops are best facilitated by those who have religious education. established the Common Vision Planning experienced the curriculum. Committee. This committee found many negative • Includes an affirmation and nondiscrimination attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance WHY JUST BISEXUAL, GAY, clause in its by-laws and other official about bisexual, gay, and lesbian people, which LESBIAN, AND/OR TRANSGENDER? documents affecting all dimensions of resulted in the exclusion of bisexual, gay, and congregational life, including membership, lesbian people from their churches. Why single out bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or hiring practices, and the calling of religious As a result of these findings, the delegates of the transgender people? The Rev. Douglas Morgan professionals. 1989 UUA General Assembly voted Strong probably states it best in the Welcoming • Engages in outreach into the b/g/l/t overwhelmingly to initiate the Welcoming Congregation manual: “For centuries, the church community in its advertising and its active Congregation program to educate its members. has been a leading force against sexual minorities. It support of b/g/l/t affirmative groups. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet is not surprising that [b/g/l/t] people are reluctant its goals and each unique situation can bring to reach out to the very institution that oppresses • Offers congregational and ministerial support positive changes to individuals and congregations. them. Yet, bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender for rites of passage for b/g/l/t persons, people have no less need for warmth, caring, and including services of union and memorial WHAT IS THE affirmation than anyone else who calls the liberal services. “WELCOMING CONGREGATION” church their religious home. In fact, as a subculture in society, bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender • Celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes PROGRAM? people may need our support more than the general same-sex couples, recognizing their committed population.” relationships, and equally affirms displays of The Welcoming Congregation Program is a caring and affection without regard to volunteer program for congregations that see a need sexual/affectional orientation. to become intentionally more inclusive towards WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. It “WELCOMING CONGREGATION”? • Seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue among consists of a series of workshops developed by the bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and UUA. The goal of the workshops is to reduce A Congregation that publicly and successfully heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust prejudice by increasing understanding and welcomes bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender and sharing. acceptance among people of different sexual people has the following qualities: • Encourages the presence of a chapter of orientations. Some of the workshop titles include: • Includes and addresses the needs of b/g/l/t Interweave. The Common Elements of Oppression; Racism and Homophobia/Heterosexism; AIDS; Religion and persons at every level of congregational life—in • Affirms and celebrates b/g/l/t issues and Homosexuality; Bisexuality and Biphobia; worship, in programs, in social occasions, and in history during the church year. Transgender Identity: What It Means; and How rites of passage—welcoming not only their Homophobia Hurts Us All. presence, but the gifts and particularities of their • Attends to legislative developments and works Many congregations offer the workshop series lives as well. to promote justice, freedom, and equality in the several consecutive times as an adult religious larger society. • Assumes the presence of b/g/l/t people and education curriculum open to all members and friends. In some congregations the workshop series celebrates this diversity by having inclusive • Speaks out when the rights of bisexual, gay, language and content in worship. lesbian, and transgender people are at stake. (and later the entire program) is sponsored by a Welcoming Congregation Task Force/Committee • Celebrates the lives of all people and their ways created just for this purpose, while other of expressing their love for each other. AREN’T WE ALREADY A WELCOMING CONGREGATION? WHAT IS AHEAD OF US? Welcoming Is it true that our church probably meets most of the qualifications for a Welcoming Our vision goes beyond the Welcoming Congregation Program. By taking this first step, we Congregation Congregation? Our church by-laws state that we hope to explore more issues than those presented do “not discriminate on the basis of age, race, here—such as ableism, racism, and sexism, to name occupation, gender, past religious affiliation, or just a few. Becoming a Welcoming Congregation sexual orientation.” Our membership already will act as a catalyst to learning more about includes bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender ourselves and to ending exclusion. Only when we persons who are active members, willing to give are truly open to the wealth of diversity in our world of themselves and share their experiences with us. will the inherent worth and dignity of every person Yes. However, official recognition as a be affirmed with a large voice. Welcoming Congregation allows you to open your church as safe space for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and WHAT IS INTERWEAVE? transgender persons; to take positions on (Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian, Gay, oppression in your larger communities; and to Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns) accomplish outreach. The mission statement for Interweave reads as HOW WILL BEING A follows: “Interweave is a membership organization WELCOMING affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is dedicated to the spiritual, political, CONGREGATION BENEFIT ME? and social well-being of Unitarian Universalists who are confronting oppression as lesbians, gay men, Confronting our prejudices in a non- bisexual persons, transgender persons, and judgmental, non-threatening group allows us to heterosexual allies. It celebrates the culture and lives explore their origins and offers an opportunity to of its members.” replace those prejudices with knowledge. Interweave membership is open to all interested What is it? Understanding our prejudices leads to individual What does it mean to me? UUs of any sexual or affectional orientation. It has spiritual growth and congregational unity. chapters in many Unitarian Universalist congregations and districts, as well as a Continental chapter. Membership in Interweave involves two presented by This is a publication of the primary goals: The UUA’s Office of Bisexual, Gay, Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender • the creation of local groups for bisexual, gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns Concerns. 25 Beacon St., Boston, Ma 02108. lesbian, and transgender Unitarian Universalists and email@example.com 617.948.6475 for support, socializing, and sharing life issues, The Interweave Chapter of and Unitarian Church of Bloomington, IL • outreach to the larger bisexual, gay, lesbian, and revised June 2006 transgender community to publicize the religious alternative offered by Unitarian Universalism.