The Open and Affirming (ONA) movement within the United Church of Christ is more than just a church’s “welcome statement.” A congregation declaring themselves ONA is more than framing a certificate of acknowledgement and proudly hanging it on the wall somewhere in the church. For being “Open and Affirming” to truly mean something means framing the mission and ministry of the church with love for ALL, including the LGBTQ+ community and seeking justice for all, including those marginalized for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.
On Saturday, October 13, 2018, the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (UCC) will gather at the very first UCC related seminary to proclaim themselves Open and Affirming, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. The Minnesota ONA Celebration is an annual gathering that includes workshops and worship to lift up the ONA presence within the Minnesota Conference UCC and to continue learning about being more loving and inclusive, as well as ways to advocate for justice in the world in areas of gender and sexuality. The schedule for our time begins with workshops at 1:00 PM, followed by worship at 2:30 PM.
There will be two workshop options to choose from. “Reframing Mental Health for ONA Ministry” will be led by Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe, pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis. Rev. Sonny R. Graves, pastor of New Spirit UCC in Savage, will facilitate the interactive workshop entitled “Reclaiming and Reframing the Possibilities of Queer.”
In worship we will acknowledge the various “Open and Affirming” ministry settings in Minnesota. Our preacher will be the Rev. Michelle Webber, pastor of First Congregational UCC in Moorhead and music will be provided by the choir from First Congregational UCC in Anoka.
The “Open and Affirming” program within the UCC comes from a 1985 General Synod Resolution calling on all settings of the church to adopt statements of “openness” and “affirmation” towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people. A later General Synod in 2003 also called upon the church to acknowledge and celebrate the gifts transgender individuals bring to the church.
United Theological Seminary is located at 3000 Fifth Avenue Street NW, New Brighton, MN, and the campus is fully accessible with off-street parking. This event is sponsored by the Open and Affirming Ministry Team – Minnesota Conference UCC.