“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,
there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
THE INCEPTION OF WIDENING OUR VISION
The Widening Our Vision (WoV) team was formed in the spring of 2021, with the blessing of the Church Council, to explore becoming an Open and Affirming church. We were prompted to undertake this effort by a newer deacon who was familiar with other Open and Affirming churches. When she inquired whether our Congregational Church of Hollis was an Open and Affirming church, she was told: “Yes, we voted to permit same gender marriage ceremonies in the church in 2010.” But that is not the same thing as being an Open and Affirming Church. And the more of us who learned that, the more of us there were who wanted to be part of an effort to help the Congregational Church of Hollis become an Open and Affirming Church.
WHAT, EXACTLY, IS OPEN AND AFFIRMING?
Open and Affirming (often abbreviated as “ONA”) is a specific designation of the United Church of Christ for congregations that have made a public covenant, and declaration of welcome into their full life and ministry, to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. The ONA designation reflects a history of faithful witness for LGBTQIA+ rights within the UCC, including the Open and Affirming action of the General Synod in 1985, and the Transgender action of the General Synod in 2003. It reflects a spirit of hospitality, a commitment to full inclusion and human rights, and a willingness to live out that “Welcome” in meaningful ways. It is consistent with the Welcome pillar of our strategic plan.
The WoV team has three goals:
- Near term – Lead the Congregation on a journey of conversation, exploration, and discovery in a process of graceful engagement: meeting people where they are; listening more than speaking; striving to understand each other and our beliefs; working together in compassion and community.
- Medium term – Have the Congregation vote to adopt a Welcoming Statement and declare our Church as Open and Affirming.
- Long term – Have the Church maintain ongoing education and relationship-building as we continue to learn and discover what it means to be a Welcoming Congregation for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We will reach out many times and in many ways as the process unfolds.
You can wait to hear from us, but we hope you will actively participate in some or all of the following:
- Be curious
- Attend a learning opportunity
- Join the WOV
- Ask questions
- Provide input
- Identify helpful resources (human, media, other)
- On YouTube watch/listen to:
- our choir (or any choir!) perform “Draw the Circle Wide”
- this 3-minute video by Accenture about inclusion and diversity (and try not to get choked up)
- Explore the “Building an Inclusive Church” resource guide
- Think about the LGBTQIA+ people in your life
The WOV team welcomes your comments, questions, and input. Contact us at WOV@hollischurch.org. Would you like to join the team? Let us know; we warmly welcome new members to our team!
Rev Tanya Rasmussen