One of the most public ways that your congregation can proclaim its welcome to all people, regardless of identity, is to include language in your mission statement, bylaws, orders of service, website, newsletter, and so on, that clearly states this welcome.
The Unitarian Universalist Association often receives requests for recommended language for such statements. It is up to your unique congregation to decide what rings most authentically for you, but here we offer up some of our favorite examples. See the bottom of the page for more information.
*New*News regarding the 2013 General Assembly vote on bylaws inclusion language.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Corpus Christi, TX
We, the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Corpus Christi, create a community, and we intentionally welcome all. We do this without requiring adherence to any religious belief or creed. We foster a climate of purposeful inclusion, an environment where all can feel safe, valued, cared for, and given an opportunity to form meaningful connections with each other. We cherish the diversity of humanity, a diversity which includes differences in sex, age, race, ethnicity, and national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial means, education, and political perspective. These beliefs and practices apply to all of the activities of our congregation; they inform all of our decisions, including our employment decisions, and the calling, installations, and retention of our minister.
Washington Ethical Society—Washington, DC
Inclusivity and Diversity: The society strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We value the diversity of racial and cultural identity and background, nationality, sexual and affectional orientation, gender identity and its expression, religious background and belief, marital status, family structure, age, mental and physical health and ability, political perspective, and educational and class status.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lower Bucks—Langhorne, PA
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lower Bucks affirms and promotes participation in all of its activities without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or national origin, and without requiring adherence to any religious belief or creed. The foregoing shall apply to all Fellowship activities and inform all of its decisions, including with respect to its employment decisions and its calling, installation and retention of its Minister.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island—Freeland, WA
The congregation affirms, promotes, and celebrates the participation of all practices, and the calling of religious professionals, without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, age, or socioeconomic status.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, NY
Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to do all we can to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be a congregation that truly welcomes all persons and commits to structuring congregational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.
Starr King School for the Ministry—Berkeley, CA
The mission, theological vision and educational philosophy of the school support us in educating to counter oppressions. In our work we strive to embody what we hope to see in the world—a just, loving humanity and community in which people are free to be themselves fully and without fear. A community where no one is exiled, silenced or exploited because of gender, gender expression, race, color, ethnic or national origin, religion, sexual/affectional orientation, age, class, physical character or disability.
—From mission statement
First Parish Church United—Westford, MA
We, the congregation of First Parish Church United of Westford, MA, declare ourselves to be Open, Affirming and Welcoming. An Open, Affirming and Welcoming Congregation celebrates the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other. Therefore, we strive to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of sexual orientation, gender and its expression, religious background, marital status, family structure, age, mental and physical health and ability, racial and cultural identity or background, and educational and socioeconomic status. We welcome all to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, responsibilities, blessings and joys of our congregation’s life.
First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI
We create and foster community by providing an intentionally welcoming and safe environment where all feel valued and cared for, and where all are given opportunity to form meaningful connections with one another. We foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all. We cherish the diversity of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial means, education, and political perspective.
—From website and Board “Ends Statement”
Heartland Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Indianapolis—Zionsville, IN
Heartland seeks to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national origin.
We are a congregation which celebrates and supports the lives, the relationships, and the individual and group contributions of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members and friends. We affirm and promote their full participation in the life of the congregation and community.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, VA
Are you seeking a community of seekers who respect the differences between people and affirms every person as an individual, no matter their race, age, ability, gender, or whom they love?
Are you eager to find a church that acts locally and thinks globally on the great issues of our time—world peace, women’s rights, racial justice, homelessness, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights, and protection of the environment?
First Parish in Concord, Unitarian Universalist—Concord, MA
As a Welcoming Congregation, First Parish invites everyone into our faith community, without regard to race, gender, age, color, national origin, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, WA
Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima is a Welcoming Community that embraces people of any age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, ability, language, or cultural background.
—From standard Order of Service
Note on Bylaws
If you are amending your congregation's bylaws, consider adding language to sections on mission, membership, and employment, and/or adding a section that addresses affirmation and promotion in all activities and endeavors, including membership, programming, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals. Consider how to incorporate both nondiscrimination language and affirmation or inclusion language.
Note on Gender and Sexuality
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Ministries (LGBTQ Ministries), an office that is part of Multicultural Growth & Witness, recommends that you consider the phrases "gender identity and expression" and "sexual or affectional orientation" for the sorts of statements discussed on this page. For more on gender and sexuality, please visit Identity 101.
For more on how to live into your congregation's commitments to be inclusive of all, check out Nurturing Inclusivity.