Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HVUUC Welcomes ALL!!

The Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is going through the process of education and awareness regarding becoming a welcoming congregation. This is a great opportunity to connect with our UU friends and find out how we can work together in breaking the silence. Here is the information:


A Welcoming Congregation is a UU church that thoughtfully and intentionally welcomes and affirms all persons regardless of sexual identity or affectional preference. To create a truly accepting and affirming environment, we must first examine our own hearts and minds: our knowledge and beliefs, our biases and fears, our behaviors and practices. Over the next several months, we will offer a workshop series designed to educate, encourage self-awareness and stimulate discussion. The workshops build on one another, so attending them all would be ideal, but not required. (Don't stay away because you're afraid you can't come to them all.) There will also be movies with discussion afterwards. Bring a friend.

To get us started, here are the activities for the summer. Get out your calendars.

Jun 21 noon
Movie: For the Bible Tells Me So
Bring a sack lunch

Jun 24 (after Wed Night Supper)
Movie: For the Bible Tells Me So

Jul 18 5 PM (followed by Coffee House)
Workshop: The Common Elements of Oppression
Bring a potluck dish to share. Stay for Coffee House afterwards.

Jul 30 6-8 PM
Workshop: Gender Socialization and Homophobia

Aug 23 noon
Movie: Milk
Bring a sack lunch

Aug 26 (after Wed Night Supper)
Movie: Milk

Sessions will all be 2 hours or less. Please make plans to join us in a spirit of fellowship, growth and enlightenment. It will help us plan space and materials needs if you will let us know whether you plan to attend a session.

Questions? Need child care? Ready to RSVP? Call Kim Ray at 423-967-0196 or email Kim. As we begin this very important journey together, remember the words we hear each Sunday: "We do not have to think alike to love alike." Amen. Shalom. Blessed be.


  1. One of the things I like about the opening statement is its specificity: "thoughtfully and intentionally welcomes and affirms all persons regardless of sexual identity or affectional preference." (Though I wish they'd just say "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons". "Sexual identity and affectional preference" seem a bit bloodless to me and I'm not sure the phrase "sexual identity" really means what they think it means if you think about it. But that's a minor quibble.)

    In our 25+ years as a Morelight congregation (before Morelight was Morelight, actually) we've found that if you don't say the words, people don't believe you. Back when our earlier statements weren't as clear, our church secretary often mentioned that several times she'd answered phone calls from people asking, in essence, "Just how welcoming are you?" clearly dancing around the words, perhaps they weren't sure if saying the word "gay" was appropriate to a church secretary. :) After the first couple calls she realized what they were really asking and told them flat out, "We mean everyone. Including LGBT people." I think that helped bring a number of people to our congregation and also pointed out the need to say the words and be specific. After all, how many churches have we seen with signs that say "Welcoming All!" when we know darn well they don't really mean *all*?

    I think it's an important lesson for any church that is moving along the path to being truly welcoming.

  2. **In our 25+ years as a Morelight congregation (before Morelight was Morelight, actually) we've found that if you don't say the words, people don't believe you.**

    Thank you. Exactly. If you can't say it, how can you really be it?

    The squeamishness regarding spelling it out results in squeamishness when it comes down equal treatment within the life of the congregation when it counts (ie. election as officers, weddings/holy unions, pictures in the directory, and hosting equality events and groups to name a few).

    Wow, 25 years More Light (and its antecedent). That's awesome. In your area, say within a 45 minute driving distance, how many affirming churches are there regardless of denomination?

    I am trying to do a comparison. Our area, Tri-Cities, has a metro population of 250,000 or so. You can drive anywhere within the Tri-Cities in 45 minutes. I have found two churches that include sexual orientation in a welcome statement, ours and HVUUC (actually HVUUC will soon get there).

    That has to be a low percentage anywhere. Now there are churches that are more "welcoming" I am sure, but they won't say it.

    I am going to celebrate when a few Baptist churches become inclusive.

  3. Back in 1976 when LGBT issues first came up in the denomination, congregations were asked to study the issues, and being good Presbyterians, Northside did so dutifully. They ended up with a study paper that -- and this was *way* back in 1977 -- said all aspects of church life (including ordination and marriage) should be open to all people regardless of sexual orientation. Talking about gay marriage in 1977 was a bit ahead of it's time, I'd say. Even more surprising is that there were no out LGBT folks in the church at the time pushing for this, the congregation just recognized it as the right thing to do. Even though I wasn't at Northside back then (heck, I was 6) I'm always proud to tell that story.

    In the Ann Arbor area there are a large number of welcoming & affirming churches of many denominations, but I'm not sure of a resource that lists them all (the university LGBT office used to maintain a webpage of affirming congregations, but I can't find it anymore), nor do I know how many of them have made official statements with their own denominational LGBT organizations. I'm guessing the number is higher than 20, maybe as many as 30 or so, just doing a back-of-the-envelope estimate. But it's the People's Republic of Ann Arbor, so it isn't hard to find very out and open and affirming churches in town. Once you leave Ann Arbor and enter reality, however, it gets harder, though there are still several in Detroit within that 45 min radius.

    Until quite recently Northside was the only PCUSA church in the entire state of Michigan that had declared itself a MoreLight congregation. We were happy to loose that distinction a few months ago when First Presbyterian in Blissfield made a MoreLight statement. There are several churches in our Presbytery that are very supportive of LGBT justice issues, but for one reason or another (I've never known why) they've never made any sort of official statement as far as I'm aware.