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. ​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 Religious Education practice 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
      • Preparing for Pride - a webinar for religious professionals
        As UU congregations are increasingly being targeted by right wing hate, we anticipate an uptick in attention and disruptive tactics heading into Pride month. In this informal space for religious professionals, we will share some observations about patterns we're seeing on the national scale, point toward some existing resources for support, identify gaps, and make connections to fight back against overwhelm, fear, and isolation.
      • LEARN: Combatting Anti-Trans Legislation 101 Training 
        Currently, there are approximately 150 anti-transgender bills moving through state legislatures across the country. From banning participation in sports to so-called "bathroom bills," to legislation that criminalizes providing life-saving gender-affirming health care, these bills are deadly for trans and nonbinary people of all ages.
      • LEARN: Speak Up for Trans Lives: Spokesperson Training  
        Focused on providing religious professionals training on speaking publicly in support of trans people, especially locally, offered by Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project as well as Side With Love staff Rev. Ashley Horan, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, and Adrian Ballou.
      • Consensual Non-Monogamy and Faith: OWL (Our Whole Lives) Taking Flight (YouTube)   
        Explore what UCC churches and UU congregations can learn from a Canadian Unitarian Council report on how to be welcoming and inclusive of polyamorous people and families in every aspect of congregational life, recognizing that consensually non-monogamous individuals and families are part of our faith communities as members, friends, clergy, and staff. Guests: Vyda Ng, Executive Director, Canadian Unitarian Council; Rev. Michael Crumpler, Director of LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs, UUA; and Gabriela De Golia, UCC seminarian. Join us!
      • HIV and Faith - Engaging the Impact of HIV & AIDS in Trans/Non-Binary Communities (YouTube)  
        This webinar conversation engages the impact of faith, HIV and AIDS through the lives and works of transgender/non-binary leaders and activists. Faith leaders will have an opportunity to respond to the needs, gifts, and dreams of these beautiful humans by divining and interpreting how faith communities can be in deeper relationship with transgender/non-binary persons living with HIV and AIDS.
      • UU the Vote for LGBTQ+ Equity  
        In recent years, we are witnessing a severe roll back of many LGBTQ+ protections, that so many of us worked so hard to achieve. We are calling all Unitarian Universalists everywhere to #UUtheVote for LGBTQ+ Equity because our values of interdependence, equity, democracy, and the inherent worth and dignity of all people are direct antidotes to the fear, bigotry, and inequity that define our world.
      • Transforming Hearts Collective
        • Transgender Inclusion in Congregations

          This course is for individuals, groups, and congregational teams who want to take their knowledge and skills to the next level in terms of trans identity and how to create congregations that are fully inclusive and affirming of the full breadth of gender diversity.

          Over six sessions you will deeply explore the intersection of trans identity, spirituality, and faith community, and gain the grounding, context, and skills to transform yourself and your congregation.

    • Podcasts Series
      • Queer Healing Journeys - The Queer Spirit Podcast The Queer Spirit Podcast was started by Nick Venegoni in 2018. He was inspired to start sharing the conversations he was having with queer folks on a spiritual path with others around the globe. Nick loved hearing about the empowerment journeys of all these artists, healers and activists and decided to amplify these voices to reach queer ears from all corners of the earth, especially in places where these stories aren’t shared publicly. The intention is to enliven, heal and empower all who hear these stories and conversations – to inspire new ideas towards health and wholeness on your queer, spiritual path.
      • The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality  

        Amid a record-setting year of anti-transgender legislation, TransLash Media presents our limited-series podcast, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine. This four-part program takes us behind the curtain of the dark money, right wing organizations, radical figures and extreme ideology driving the anti-trans backlash across the country.

        We expose a highly-organized political apparatus, which makes the future potentially darker for everyone. To do so, we center the voices and stories of trans people, as well as their families, who are victimized by this hostile movement with our award-winning journalist Imara Jones guiding us along the way.

      • This Anti-Trans Hate Machine resource page is for those who want to dig deeper into this series. Each episodetranscriptsinfographicspress resources  and more are available here for reporters, researchers, students, activists, and the general public.
    • Welcoming Movie/Talkback
      • Disclosure - A Netflix Documentary  
        Not all representation is created equal. Disclosure is an unprecedented look into 100 years of transgender images on screen, showing how Hollywood’s projections affect the ways people see trans people and how trans people see themselves.
      • Treasure: From Tragedy to Trans Justice Mapping a Detroit Story (2015 ) - Treasure is a feature documentary about nineteen year old trans woman Shelly 'Treasure' Hilliard whose murder involved police coercion, Jim Crow drug laws, the criminalization of sex work and transphobia. It is about a young Detroit trans community activated by her death, and her family who are suing for justice.
      • Pay It No Mind (2012) (YouTube)  -This feature-length documentary focuses on revolutionary trans-activist, Marsha "Pay it No Mind" Johnson, a Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, sex worker, starving actress, and Saint. "Pay It" captures the legendary gay/human rights activist as she recounts her life at the forefront of The Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, the creation of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera in the '70s, and a New York City activist throughout the '80s and early '90s. Through her own words, as well as in-depth interviews with gay activist Randy Wicker, former Cockettes performer Agosto Machado, author Michael Musto, Hot Peaches founder/performer, Jimmy Camicia, and Stonewall activists Bob Kohler, Danny Garvin, Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, and Martin Boyce, Marsha's story lives on.
    • Welcoming Common Reads
      • Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families

        The June 2023 Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Book Club selection.

        Groundbreaking in its depictions of joy and community, Authentic Selves celebrates trans and nonbinary people and their families in stunning photographs and their own words. Foreword by transgender activist Jazz Jennings and her mom and fellow activist, Jeanette Jennings.
        So often trans and nonbinary people’s stories are told only through the lens of their struggles and challenges, including their political battles for legal rights, but trans and nonbinary people live rich and fulfilling lives full of joy and community too. Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families is a sweeping compilation of life stories and portraits of trans and nonbinary people, as well as their partners, parents, children, siblings, and chosen family members.
        The compelling stories in Authentic Selves provide a glimpse into the real lives, both the challenges and the triumphs, of these remarkable people and their families—people like Senator Sarah McBride, disability justice advocate Parker Glick, drag entertainer TAYLOR ALXNDR, September 11th first responder Jozeppi Angelo Morelli, model Lana Patel, youth activist Elliott Bertrand, and so many others—all of whom are working to create a more just, diverse, and compassionate world.

      • All Boys Aren't Blue  

        In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

        Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

        Ages 14 to 18

      • The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging Sexuality researcher Jane Fleishman shares the stories of fearless elders in the LGBTQ community who came of age around the time of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. In candid interviews, they lay bare their struggles, strengths, activism, and sexual liberation in the context of the political movements of the 1960s and 1970s and today. Each of these inspiring figures has spent a lifetime fighting for the right to live, love, and be free, facing challenges arising from their sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, disabilities, kinkiness, non-monogamy, and other identities. These are the stories of those whose lives were changed forever by Stonewall and who in turn became agents of change themselves. The Stonewall Generation Discussion Guide (PDF)
      • ACE: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through life not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about gender roles, about romance and consent, and the pressures of society? This accessible examination of asexuality shows that the issues that aces face-confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships - are the same conflicts that nearly all of us will experience. Through a blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace addresses the misconceptions around the “A” of LGBTQIA and invites everyone to rethink pleasure and intimacy.
      • Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent's Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground No matter who we are or where we come from, we all play on the same playground. There are certain collective societal messages we hear growing up that we either consciously or subconsciously believe. As a result, we develop certain belief systems from which we operate our lives. Raising LGBTQ Allies sheds light on the deeper, multi-faceted layers of homophobia. It opens up a conversation with parents around the possibility they may have an LGBTQ child, and shows how heteronormativity can be harmful if not addressed clearly and early. Although not every parent will have an LGBTQ child, their child will jump rope or play tag with a child who is LGBTQ.
  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 (PDF) 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.
  • 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. (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.