“All Are Welcome” isn’t enough.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people of faith often experience emotional and spiritual injury in churches that condemn their capacity to love and seek love. Because they’ve learned that “All Are Welcome” usually doesn’t apply to them, they can’t assume that any church will be safe for them and their families.
A public welcome by an Open and Affirming (ONA) gay-friendly church such as Pilgrim Faith UCC sends a clear message to LGBT seekers that they have a home in the United Church of Christ. A congregation’s affirmation and support through an open and affirming covenant can be a life-changing and life-saving experience, especially for LGBT youth. A public welcome like ours to LGBTQ seekers helps churches, including ours, grow. Many of our new folks are young straight couples starting new families: they identify with the values ONA represents, and want their children to learn the faith in a welcoming church.
By adopting a covenant of welcome, our congregation is taking seriously Saint Paul’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)