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 refresher programming every five years. A lot of turnover and changes to congregational life can happen over the years, and the wider culture also changes quickly. Refresher programming can help your congregation recommit to inclusive practices and also take the next steps in deepening your welcome ever further.
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.
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 local or state groups and organizations that serve LGBTQ needs. 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 often benefit from refresher programming on transgender issues, bisexual and queer issues, race/ethnicity and sexuality, and other intersections of identity and experience. Be sure you are taking steps that will stretch your congregation to new levels of welcome.
Create diverse opportunities for engagement through education, congregational life, and community outreach. Here are just a few possibilities:
Think about which individuals would feel most welcome in your congregation, and who 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 programming, or tackle them as your next step toward welcoming all and affirming that diversity enriches our communities. Visit our Nurturing Inclusivity pages for more ideas.
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 Monday, September 29, 2014.
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