Welcoming Congregation Refresher Program
Being recognized as a Welcoming Congregation is just the beginning, and is a commitment to the ever-ongoing work of being welcoming.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Ministries (LGBTQ Ministries) recommends that congregations go through a Welcoming Congregation Program or a refresher program every five years. A lot of turnover and changes to congregational life can happen over the years, and the wider culture also changes quickly with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Renew your welcome, perhaps on the fifth or tenth anniversary of your original recognition (find out your anniversary by searching for yourself using our Find a Congregation feature and checking the Welcoming Congregations box). You can even officially renew your Welcoming Congregation status.
Think Creatively! Launch a Refresher Program
Revisit the Welcoming Congregation Guidelines and Action Steps and use them to create new goals. Each refresher program is different; there is no blueprint.
Strengthen relationships with LGBT groups and organizations. Ask how you can help their work and brainstorm ways to bring their message to your congregation.
Celebrate the progress you’ve made and identify areas where your congregation has room to grow. Congregations recognized more than a decade ago benefit from refresher courses that focus on transgender issues, bisexual and queer issues, and race/ethnicity and sexuality. Make sure your programming addresses these issues.
Create diverse opportunities for engagement through education, congregational life, and community outreach. Here are just a few possibilities:
- Ideas for Education
- Worship services on LGBTQ issues, perhaps with guest preachers.
- Panel or round-table discussion on an LGBTQ issue.
- LGBTQ film series with discussions.
- Congregation-wide common read and book discussion.
- Workshops. Possible sources for workshops and curricula include:
- Ideas for Congregational Life
- Revisit the affirmative language clauses used in your bylaws, worship, orders of service, website, brochure, etc. Do you explicitly welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions?
- Include news and information of LGBTQ concern in your newsletter, website, Facebook page, etc.
- If you don't already, start providing inclusive language guidelines to worship coordinators and speakers as well as congregational leaders.
- Make LGBTQ issues and history a regular part of your liturgical calendar and congregational year.
- Ideas for Community Outreach
- Host a public forum on an LGBTQ issue.
- Hold an LGBTQ film series open to the public.
- Strengthen relationships with local LGBTQ groups or organizations. Attend their events. Ask how you can help.
- Take action on a local, state, or national issue of LGBTQ concern.
- Brainstorm how your congregation can be of direct service to local LGBTQ communities and individuals. A support group for LGBTQ youth? A meals-on-wheels program for homebound LGBTQ folks? Think big!
Take the Next Step Toward Welcoming All
Think about which LGBT individuals would feel most welcome in your congregation, and which might feel less welcome. Would a working class lesbian single mom feel welcome? Would an elderly Latino transgender man? How about a blind genderqueer person? How might you extend your welcome, little by little, step by step?
The Welcoming Congregation Program is simply one entry point. Incorporate other entry points into your Welcoming Congregation refresher course, or tackle them as your next step toward welcoming all into Beloved Community regardless of identity. Here are some ideas:
- Welcome people of all races and ethnicities
- Welcome people of all abilities
- Welcome youth, welcome young adults, become a multigenerational congregation
- Welcome people of all economic classes: start with this brief curriculum/discussion guide (PDF, 20 pages)
- Get more ideas on how to deepen your welcome
Please reach out for help or more ideas by emailing lgbtq @ uua.org—we would love to hear from you!
For more information contact lgbtq @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.
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