Open & Affirming… Yes, I am, but are you really?

The Websters dictionary states Open means

1.  Allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up.

The Websters dictionary states Affirming means

  1. State as a fact; assert strongly and publicly.
  2. Declare one’s support for; uphold or defend.

Did you know that “Open and Affirming” is an official designation of congregations and other settings within the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination affirming the full inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons (LGBT) in that setting’s life and ministry.

The Open and Affirming program is administered by the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, which supports congregations and other church settings as they consider adoption of an Open and Affirming covenant and maintains the official list of Open and Affirming settings. The Coalition encourages UCC congregations, campus ministries, seminaries, regional bodies and other communities to engage their members in serious study of sexual orientation and gender identity and to declare publicly their full welcome and inclusion of LGBT people. There are also requirements that must be followed by the United Church of Christ in order to become a Affirming ministry.  I won’t go into the exact requirements, but you can easily google to find them. With more than 1,000 congregations, the UCC’s Open and Affirming program is the largest of several LGBT-welcoming movements in U.S. and Canadian churches.

Now that is powerful stuff, ey? I am both OPEN and AFFIRMING. It is who I am and who I will always be.  I will never pretend to be something I am not, nor will I be part of a community who promotes parties who pose judgement or exclusion. There are people in the world who still need to learn what it is like to accept ALL people regardless of sexual orientation, circumstance, wealth, or choice.  Even though my life is an open book, recent events reveal that not all people who sustain a job being “Open and Affirming” truly are what this definition represents.  How can we promote ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ if we modify our beliefs based on fictitious circumstance or chameleon like qualities?  That does not promote or represent a person who is “affirming” or even “open” for that matter.  It is disheartening to know that people who claim to hold an “Open and Affirming” position in a religious institution are not living out the values in their daily lives that the UCC holds as a formal covenant. Blasphemy!

Make it Count by living your truth and values in which you represent.

Ashley Stevenson