Unitarian Universalism is very supportive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people and their families, and has officially welcomed this community since 1970. We believe that our first principle, respecting “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” applies equally to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
First launched in 1990, the Welcoming Congregation Program grew out of an understanding that widespread prejudices and ignorance about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people existed within Unitarian Universalism, which resulted in the exclusion of LGBTQ people from our congregations. This volunteer program was developed for Unitarian Universalist congregations that want to take intentional steps to become more welcoming and inclusive of people with marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities.
BBUUC took several years to incorporate education, congregational life and community outreach focused on LGBTQ issues, and was awarded recognition as an “official” Welcoming Congregation in 2009, after meeting the requirements and voting unanimously to affirm this designation.
Today, 66% of U.S. Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations and 94% of Canadian UU congregations are recognized as Welcoming Congregations. The program is supported by LGBTQ Ministries. Check out the UUA website for more information: http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/index.shtml.
BBUUC has now transformed the achievements of the Welcoming Congregation Program into a Ministry that is part of the fabric of our congregation. The Welcoming Congregation Ministry is tasked with building relationships and fostering awareness of LGBTQ life, culture and families with activities that encourage acceptance of, understanding of, and respect for LGBTQ identity in oneself and others.
Our Welcoming Congregation Ministry has led us in participation in the Jacksonville Gay Pride Parade and Festival events for several years. We have been involved in state government lobbying/meeting events in Tallahassee, and also bring our message of inclusion to other events throughout the community. The Ministry is also focused on increasing awareness of our congregation along with a warm invitation of welcome to our local LGBTQ community for those who might find a good match with our spiritual community. Volunteers who work in this Ministry are also tasked with making sure that LGBTQ sensitivities are maintained within the church, throughout worship, celebrations, programs, governance, social affairs and activities.