Most religious communities consider themselves welcoming. That is, after all, the Golden Rule’s point. Among Unitarian Universalists, the meaning is more specific. At First Parish, it means the congregation has successfully completed an extensive, intentional and voluntary process to become more inclusive toward lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender people. It also means recognition of the need for such an educational process, and such an inclusive sanctuary.
Some find it curious that certain individuals be singled out for welcoming. The Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong explains this well. “For centuries, the church has been a leading force against sexual minorities,” he said. “It is not surprising that gay people are reluctant to reach out to the very institution that oppresses them. Yet, gay, lesbian, (transgender) and bisexual people have no less need for warmth, caring and affirmation than anyone else who calls the liberal church their religious home. In fact, as a subculture in society, gay, lesbian, (transgender), and bisexual people may need our support more than the general population.”
For First Parish, the process included sponsoring GLBT-themed film series, workshops based on the UUA Welcoming Congregation handbook, and worship focused on GLBT issues and experiences. It concluded with a strongly affirmative congregational vote on May 21, 2006. On June 14, 2006, First Parish gained UUA recognition as a Welcoming Congregation.
We extend our welcome to you.