On August 24, Rev. Amy Moses-Logos and Board President David Christenson received some wonderful news: the UUA has renewed BBUUC’s status as a Welcoming Congregation. Amid the difficulties we are experiencing because of the pandemic, this recognition brings us great joy.
Having our status as a Welcoming Congregation renewed was no small feat. To achieve that renewal, we were required to complete the UUA’s Five Practices of Welcoming Renewal. Those five practices, and the way we accomplished them, are the following.
The first requirement was that we already have status as a Welcoming Congregation, which BBUUC accomplished in 2009. The second requirement was that we have two welcoming worship services focused on the LGBTQ+ community. For years, BBUUC has had at least two worship services per year (and usually more than two) with this emphasis. This year, the two services we submitted in our application for renewal featured Manny Andrade’s sermon entitled Faith Submerged, and guest speaker Gregory C. Carrow-Boyd’s sermon entitled All Black Lives Matter, which he recorded for BBUUC’s Pride Sunday Service. Also featured in that Pride service were the members of our Rainbow Welcoming Ministry’s working group, Manny Andrade, David Austin, Elizabeth DeCoux, Lee Plumb, and Madeline Sims. Caitlin Regan sang “Over the Rainbow” for the Pride Service, in a video produced by David Dean.
The third requirement for renewal was that we observe six welcoming Sundays in which segments of the service emphasize occasions significant to LGBTQ+ people and their allies. This year, BBUUC’s days of recognition were National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day; International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia; Pulse Night of Remembrance; Stonewall Riots Anniversary; National Coming Out Day; and World AIDS Day.
The UUA, along with its Office for LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs, kindly exempted BBUUC this year from the fourth requirement, which is completing a webinar or similar event. This exemption resulted from the pandemic.
The fifth and final requirement for renewal was a significant donation of funds or use of building space to a LGBTQ+ related organization. BBUUC joyfully fulfilled this requirement with “plate cash” donated to NFAN and JASMYN, along with the items the congregation generously brought to our drive-by collection on November 7, 2020. The total donations exceeded $700. With these in-kind and cash donations, BBUUC provided food to people living in poverty because of HIV/AIDS. The donations also enabled us to give sleeping bags, food, and hygiene items for young people who are homeless as a result of their LGBTQ+ status. November 7—the day of the drive-by donation—was a day of great joy, as the RWM working group greeted donors with music, cheers, and the waving of David Austin’s rainbow flag. For many of us, that day of masks and distancing was the first time we had seen each other since the pandemic began.
It is obvious to all who observe us that BBUUC brings people in from the margins, not just to complete a checklist or achieve Welcoming Congregation status. This is a very intentional work of the heart for BBUUC and its members, and it has been for years. Hosting the JASMYN prom after the public library was forced to cancel it, conducting a training on intersex, donating money to Rainbow Railroad to assist LGBTQ+ people living in countries where their lives and freedom are in peril—these and many more are actions that BBUUC takes naturally, joyfully, and with a generous heart.
Special thanks for achieving Welcoming Congregation Renewal go to the members of the RWM Working Group, including Manny Andrade, David Austin, Elizabeth DeCoux (lead), Lee Plumb, Madeline Sims, and Rusty Turner. The joyful work of bringing LGBTQ+ people in from the margins in our worship services was accomplished by Rev. Amy, DLRE Chris Jarman, Worship Committee Chair Linda Mowers, and all the members of the Worship Committee. Special gratitude for the in-kind and cash donations to NFAN and JASMYN goes to the entire congregation, especially those in leadership on Social Justice and Finance, including Peg Christenson, Claudia Marshall, and Pam Richards.
A big thank-you to everyone involved in this wonderful accomplishment.