Uplift: Uplifting LGBTQ+ Experience Within and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

Renewed Welcome in White Plains

Welcoming Congregation Renewal Celebration at Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains

Welcoming Celebration Sunday at Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains

By Anthony Arrien

On May 27, 2018, Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains had a special LGBTQ Celebration Sunday Service, commemorating our renewal as an LGBTQ Welcoming Congregation. Our Welcoming designation dated back to 2005, but since then the transgender/non-binary movement has evolved greatly and we wanted to renew our commitment to Welcoming all within the LGBTQIA community.

To understanding the basics of gender, over the past two years we incorporated Trans 101—Talking Gender and Trans 102. We also had a panel discussion entitled “Gender and Orientation,” as five LGBTQ members of our congregation shared how their sexual orientation and gender identity were often conflated or misconstrued by people who had known them in their lives. The transwoman explained the challenges of being a lesbian versus the assumption that she is homosexual. Together, they also articulated the nuances sexual orientation for those who identify as pansexual, bisexual and asexual.

Because many of the young people attending Sunday services use the pronouns, “they, them, theirs,” we screened the National Geographic documentary “Gender Revolution,” followed by a Q&A. our older members who found the film very enlightening.

We also had an interactive “Social Justice Visioning” presentation to think through how our programming can be more welcoming of the etiquette for transgender people, as well as all other LGB and Q. One such idea was to produce a 30-second public service announcement for Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31st, which included binary and non-binary members of our congregation. Our PSA was shown on local cable television and social media throughout the week before March 31st. It is also available on YouTube.

After having received our renewal, members of the Social Justice Team hosted a Sunday celebration, complete with music and a processional with our Welcoming banner. Rev. Meredith Garmon’s preached a Welcoming sermon, and the sanctuary was adorned with rainbow balloons and ribbons. The UUA Welcoming logo and the rainbow them was symbolic of the diversity that lives in our congregation. Our social media and communal outreach draw in new visitors. Our work before and after celebration Sunday truly establishes Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains as a Welcoming Congregation within our wall and beyond. Knowing this makes me proud of my congregation and Unitarian Universalist movement in our world.