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Five Practices of Welcome Renewal

Graphic for the Five Practices of Welcome Renewal

What Is the Welcoming Congregations “Renewal” Program?

Many Welcoming Congregations confess to not having updated or reviewed their LGBTQ+ programs and outreach since the 1990s. As such, the UUA unveiled the Welcoming Congregations renewal program in 2015. Our goal was, "To honor your original pledge, it’s essential that new people in the congregation (as well as people who were originally involved in the program) understand your congregation’s commitment to this work and learn about the current needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ people." Over the past three years, we have renewed 18 of our 800 Welcoming Congregations.

What Is the Welcoming Congregations Five Practices of Welcome Renewal Program?

In 2018, we wish to be bolder with our Welcome. Transgender Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are still struggling to find community in UU congregations. Bisexual UUs suffer from invisibility while asexual, intersex, and polyamorous communities are wrestling with a progressive faith that does not privilege their truth. These and the many more social ills that plague our LGBTQ+ and TGQNB communities  are calling us into a deeper commitment to insure that our Unitarian Universalist congregations are living into the Welcome that we boldly proclaim.

As such, we are unveiling the The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal, which are:

  1. Become a Welcoming Congregation
    Becoming a Welcoming Congregation is the expectation of every Unitarian Universalist congregation. While over 800 congregations are currently “approved,” the nearly 300 congregations that are not are encouraged to fulfill the original objectives of the Welcoming Congregations application.
  2. Welcoming Worship Services
    The second Practice of Welcome Renewal is incorporating Welcoming Worship Services into our ordinary calendar of worship every year. These services might occur during LGBTQ+ Pride Month or any other day of observance. An LGBTQ marriage ceremony, naming ritual, or remembrance ceremonies may also fulfill this objective.  
  3. Welcoming Days of Observance
    The third Practice of Welcome Renewal is an annual recognition and celebration of the Welcoming Days of Observance. These days and seasons are important to LGBTQ+ / TGQNB communities because they bring visibility and affirmation after generations of invisibility and erasure. These days remind all that “All of who you are is sacred. All of who you are is welcome.”
  4. Welcoming Religious Education
    The fourth Practice of Welcome Renewal is an annual opportunity for your congregation to experience a Welcoming Congregation Module. A WC module is a UUA approved seminar / webinar. Each year the UUA LGBTQ program office will offer at least one Welcoming Webinar engaging LGBTQ+ / TGQNB issues and topics. Welcoming Congregations may register for a webinar or may chose to sponsor a local seminar for its local congregation and community.
  5. Support a Welcoming Project
    The fifth Practice of Welcome Renewal is Support a Welcoming Project. Welcoming Congregations (WCs) are congregations that give generously of our gifts and resources. To remain current, WCs may donate a sizable donation to a local and national organization, campaign, or project that uplifts the dignity of LGBTQ+ / TGQNB communities.

The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal are five benchmarks that every congregation will need to integrate into congregational life in order to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, and the like feel fully welcomed, centered, and embraced in our Unitarian Universalist congregation. Welcoming Congregations will be required to meet the following benchmarks annually in order to remain “current” as a Welcoming Congregation.

How to Achieve the Five Practices of Welcome

  1. Become a Welcoming Congregation
    Visit LGBTQ Justice and apply to become a Welcoming Congregation.
  2. Welcoming Worship Services
    Include at least two Welcoming Worship Services into your liturgical schedule that uplifts the themes of LGBTQ+ / TGQNB* welcome and inclusion. The following resources will help to ensure that you are practicing Welcome Renewal during your Welcoming Worship Services and throughout year as a Welcoming Congregation.

    ​The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal is all about sharing. As more and more Welcoming Congregations participate in the Five Practices of Welcome Renewal prayers, music, reflections, orders of services will be made available to support Welcome Congregations in planning Welcoming Worship Services. Please visit Worship Web for liturgy and materials to assist with planning a Welcoming Worship Service. 
  3. Welcoming Days of Observance
    Celebrate, reflect, observe the Welcoming Days of Observance included on the Welcoming Congregations Calendar throughout the year. It is expected that congregations would acknowledge at least six Days of Observance per year by featuring a prayer, Stories for All Ages, Chalice Lighting/Extinguishing, song, art form, etc. that honors the occasion. Download the Welcoming Days of Observance poster to display in your congregation. A postcard format is also available. 
  4. Welcoming Religious Education
    A Welcoming Congregation Module is a webinar or seminar made available to the congregation and community that informs, educates, and raises awareness about the issues and needs of the LGBTQ+ / TGQNB* community. UUA Multicultural Ministries will sponsor at least one Welcoming Webinar per year and programming resources for WC to host a seminar of their own. You may also host a movie “talkback” and book discussion group to fulfill this practice. We will also share recommended webinars, movies, and books to discuss throughout the year. 
    • Welcoming Webinars 

      • UU the Vote for LGBTQ+ Equity
      • Lives At Stake: The Trans Response to Coronavirus: Taking Action (YouTube)
        On March 31st, 2020, Imara Jones begins her WNYC residency on International Trans Day of Visibility with a Facebook livestream focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting trans & GNC people in the US. Guests included actor Indya Moore, writer Meredith Talusan, reps from Transgender Law Center & more! This archived YouTube version features captions for accessibility.

      • Lives At Stake: Sex Work and COVID-19 (YouTube)
        Does the COVID-19 crisis reveal it's time to declare sex work lawful? TransLash Creator/Producer Imara Jones talks with trans activists Aria Sa'id, Toni-Michelle Williams, and Cecilia Gentili on April 23, 2020.

      • ​​Lives At Stake: The Trans Response to Coronavirus: Taking Action (YouTube)
        On March 31st, 2020, Imara Jones begins her WNYC residency on International Trans Day of Visibility with a Facebook livestream focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting trans & GNC people in the US. Guests included actor Indya Moore, writer Meredith Talusan, reps from Transgender Law Center & more! This archived YouTube version features captions for accessibility.
      • Virtual LGBTQ MONA Equality Rally with Lori Lindsey
        Lori Lindsey, former professional soccer player for USWNT and ambassador with Athlete Ally.

        Rallying on behalf of LGBTQ communities vulnerable because of the lack of nondiscrimination protection in Missouri in support of the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act (MONA).

        Rep. Greg Razer (Kansas CIty), Rep. Crystal Quade (Springfield), Rep. Tracy McCreery (St. Louis), and Sen. Brian Williams (St. Louis).
    • Transforming Hearts Collective

    • Welcoming Movie/Talkback
    • Common Reads

      • After Marriage Equality Book Series (Discussion Questions Coming Soon)
        This collection presents some of the first works of empirical scholarship and first-hand observation to assess the realities of queer families, communities, and movements after same-sex marriage. Additionally, the collection draws from critical and intersectional perspectives to explore the questions and issues facing the next chapter of LGBTQ activism and social movement work.

    • Welcoming Module Survey
      • Upon conclusion of your Welcoming Webinar, please distribute the Five Practices of Welcome Renew - Welcoming Module Survey to receive feedback for your event. When you submit the average of your participant’s survey results in order to complete your annual renewal. 
      • Five Practices of Welcome Renewal - Welcoming Module Survey
  5. Support a Welcoming Project
    Welcoming Congregations are encouraged to donate finances or time to an LGBTQ+ / TGQNB organization, campaign, or project of their choice. For a list of suggested projects, please visit Support a Welcoming Project or contact

How to Renew the Five Practices of Welcome

  • In order to remain “current,” Welcoming Congregations must renew the Five Practices of Welcome every year.
  • Upon completion of all five practices, the chair of the WC committee will complete the automated renewal form.* Please use the Five Practices of Welcome Renewal - Tracking Form to record your progress as you prepare for your annual renewal. Once you have completed all Five Practices, you may update your annual certification using the online form. Also, please remember to file your materials (bulletins, prayers, chalice lighting/extinguishing, etc.) to upload when completing the online form.
  • Upon review, the WC will be renewed as “current” and receive a Five Practices of Welcome award letter and certificate for the year.
  • The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal is per 12-month intervals, beginning in 2019. (For example, if you begin your renewal in August 2020, then you have through August 31, 2021 to complete your practices.) 
  • Members of a Welcoming Congregation “current” in the Five Practices of Welcome Renewal will receive a ribbon to wear at General Assembly.

*For best results, we recommend creating an account to save entry and finish later.