Open & Affirming (ONA) means that a congregation expresses its welcome, inclusion, and full acceptance of persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ).
In 1985, the United Church of Christ General Synod (a national body of delegates from local churches) passed a resolution encouraging all congregations to declare themselves “Open & Affirming.” Since the General Synod speaks “to” but not “for” congregations, each UCC congregation makes a decision on whether to pursue Open & Affirming (ONA) status.
In March 2011, First Congregational Church officially became an ONA church, and adopted the following Welcome Statement:
“At First Congregational United Church of Christ, we are a community of faith striving to live out our mission “to be God’s hands at work from the heart of the city.” We are seeking to live faith that is grounded in our long history, yet open to God’s Spirit among us. We are bound as one in Jesus Christ and invite ALL into the full life and ministry of our church. Our members represent diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, color, ethnicity, age and ability. Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome and accepted into full participation in our faith community.”
In 2013, we also affirmed the following Blessing Ceremony statement:
"First Congregational United Church of Christ, Sioux Falls, SD, will offer support to those couples living in loving, committed, and mutually covenanted relationships by offering ceremonies of blessing, preceded by a time of counseling, and presided over by authorized clergy."
Same-gender couples seeking to be married with the blessing of the church are invited to visit with a pastor to discuss arrangements.
You can learn more about Open & Affirming churches around the UCC at www.uccCoalition.org