1,000 Open and Affirming Congregations

The United Church of Christ is known for being first:

  • 1785 – first ordained African American pastor
  • 1853 – first woman pastor
  • 1972 – ordination of first openly gay minister

Today, the denomination celebrates another first as it welcomes its 1,000th Open and Affirming congregation.  Open and affirming congregations have

publicly and specifically declared that those of all “sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” (or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people) are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment, etc.) It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways.

So What?

I currently serve one of the one thousand open and affirming congregations in the United Church of Christ.  Even though this milestone is significant, it represents only a small percentage of the total congregations (5,000+)  in the denomination.

  • Would learning a congregation is open and affirming make it more or less attractive to you? Why?
  • It took 27 years in the UCC for about 20% of its congregations to become open and affirming.  How long do you think it will take before a majority of congregations receive this designation?  What factors do you think will contribute most significantly to movement in that direction?
  • The movement toward inclusiveness is far wider than the UCC.  Several mainline denominations have amended ordination standards in recent years to welcome openly gay and lesbian ministers (for an example, read this post on the recent changes in the PCUSA).  Do you think these changes will remain in mainline Protestantism or expand beyond it?


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