OPEN AND AFFIRMING
Since the 1985 General Synod, the United Church of Christ has encouraged all of its local churches to study the social justice movement our denomination calls, Open and Affirming (ONA). If a church declares itself to be ONA, it is making a public declaration that people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are welcome into the full life and ministry of that church. Not all UCC churches are ONA, and most of those who are have spent time educating themselves as they prayerfully consider how to witness to God's expansive love.
For many years, we at UCC of New Smyrna Beach described ourselves as open and affirming, prior to undertaking a one-year course of study about becoming an official ONA church setting. On April 19, 2011, by congregational vote we became an ONA church. We realize the importance of making a public statement reflecting this church's welcome to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, assuring them a worship experience that celebrates God's love for everyone.
As the UCC website states, becoming an ONA church "matters to all Christians who believe that God's affirmation of the gifts of loving relationships and sexuality are not restricted to those who are heterosexual, and who look to their church to witness to God's inclusive love and help them to better understand and live it." As a congregation, we take seriously our greeting at every service:
"No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are always welcome here!”
A PERSONAL JOURNEY
to FULL INCLUSION