From the Widening Our Vision (WOV) Team…

A Look Back at Where We’ve Been and What’s Next?

Widening Our Vision Timeline: More than a Year in the Making…

  • March 2021 – Church Council approved formation of Open & Affirming (ONA) task force
  • April 2021 – Call for interested individuals to join ONA task force
  • June 2021 – ONA core team first meeting; work begins using Building an Inclusive Church toolkit
  • Aug 2021 – ONA team meets with director of UCC Open & Affirming Coalition for ONA guidance
  • Sept 2021 – ONA team renamed to Widening Our Vision; creates document: purpose, rationale, goals
  • Oct 2021 – shared the WOV document at meetings with each church board and requested feedback
  • Nov 2021 – introduced WOV to the congregation in church
  • Nov 2021 – met with reps from other churches that recently completed the ONA process for guidance
  • Dec 2021 – introduced WOV in Chimes newsletter and initiate series of monthly articles
  • Jan 2022 – added Widening Our Vision information and resources to our web site
  • April 2022 – offered a three-part speaker series (culminating on May 1)
  • April 2022 – introduced our Welcome Statement (ONA Covenant) on Easter Sunday

So, what are the next steps?
To become an Open and Affirming church, congregation members must vote to adopt our Welcome Statement (ONA Covenant). With the desire for this covenant vote to be overwhelmingly positive, the next step, then, is an exploratory survey. We ask that all voting members answer the one-question survey and return your responses to the church.  You may use the survey form inserted in your May Chimes or respond to the emailed survey that will be sent on May 1.  Whichever way you choose to respond, please submit your surveys by May 15, 2022.  We look forward to hearing from you!
When the WOV team determines we are ready for a formal vote, we will request that Council schedule a congregational meeting to vote on the Welcome Statement and adopt it as our ONA Covenant.  The UCC Open and Affirming Coalition will certify our church as ONA, and our name will be listed with the 57 other New Hampshire UCC ONA churches.

Does being ONA mean lots of changes??
Once we are officially Open and Affirming, there may be some visible indications of our ONA status ~ perhaps a rainbow stripe will be added at the base of the sign outside the meetinghouse door that says ‘Wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here’ or an addition to the sign outside the center door indicating that we are Open & Affirming, and our web site will identify our church as Open and Affirming.  Our pastor and our hymnal already use inclusive language, so the WOV team doesn’t expect any noticeable changes in what our worship looks or feels like.  After all, becoming ONA is really just an underscoring of what we’ve been saying all along ~ No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

So what difference will adopting our ONA covenant make?
Throughout the past year, a number of church members (maybe you or someone who sits in the pew next to you!) have shared their personal stories — adult children or siblings who are LGBTQ+ folks, a teenage child who is gender fluid, other teens who are questioning or coming out, an adult son transitioning to become a woman, a family member who left our church due to condemnation of who he is.  Our ONA covenant will make a difference to them and to ALL of us.  It says that we Draw the Circle Wide  — wide enough to include people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions — in other words …everyone. 

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