Open and Affirming Covenant

Adopted June 23, 2019

We, the First Congregational Church of Cheshire, United Church of Christ, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are blessed and loved equally by God, and we believe that love is a unifying and strengthening force within our Christian faith. We seek to proclaim Christ’s selfless and unconditional love in what we teach and in how we live together in our congregation and our community. We declare ourselves an open and affirming Christian community, actively expressing Jesus’ inclusive embrace of all people. Trusting in God’s grace and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we commend ourselves to strive to fulfill this affirmation.

Therefore, we welcome all who seek to follow Jesus, including persons of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, economic and social status, and educational background, to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, responsibilities, blessings and joys of our church family. You are our neighbor and are welcome to be part of this loving community of faith.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does Open and Affirming (ONA) mean?

Reflecting the Open and Affirming action of the General Synod (1985) and the Transgender action of the General Synod (2003), to say that a setting of the UCC (a local church, campus ministry etc.) is “Open and Affirming” means that it has 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.In 1997, The Coalition changed its name from the “United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns” to “The United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.” This was done to intentionally and publicly announce our commitment to the inclusion of all persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.To add a new question go to app settings and press “Manage Questions” button.

Why is "ONA" used for Open and Affirming?"

“ONA” is the “caps” version of “O ‘n A” (as in “salt ‘n pepper”). The Open and Affirming Ministries in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) use “O&A” to identify their welcoming congregations

What is the background of "ONA" in the United Church of Christ "UCC"?"

Using the language of “More Light” (employed by Presbyterians who support LGBT-inclusion), the idea of “Welcoming congregations” was first raised at the General Synod in 1983. No formal action was taken by the General Synod but, in the months after that, a group of UCC members from the MA Conference continued work on this. They developed a resolution using the term “Open and Affirming” and it was adopted by the Annual Meeting of the MA Conference in 1984. That resolution and one from the Rocky Mountain Conference formed the basis of the resolution adopted in 1985 by the Fifteenth General Synod (national delegate body of the UCC).
The resolution was entitled: “Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming.” This General Synod action “…encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith.”
Preparing for General Synod 2003, several conferences worked on a resolution, which was endorsed by The Coalition, and called for the UCC to publicly reject discrimination and violence against transgender people. Another resolution was introduced at General Synod 2003 and called for full inclusion of transgender persons into the life and leadership of the denomination. These two resolutions were combined and passed.
The final General Synod 2003 resolution, “Affirming the Participation and Ministry of Transgender People within the United Church of Christ and Supporting Their Civil and Human Rights,” encouraged all congregations of the United Church of Christ “to welcome transgender people into membership, ministry, and full participation” and encouraged all settings of the UCC “to learn about the realities of transgender experience and expression, including the gifts and callings and needs of transgender people, and are encouraged to engage in appropriate dialogue with transgender people.”

Were these resolutions the first to affirm people in regards to their sexual orientation and gender/identity expression?

No. Bodies in the United Church of Christ had been making such statements for decades prior to the 1985 Open and Affirming resolution. They have addressed, among other issues: support for GLB civil rights, elimination of institutionalized homophobia within the UCC, HIV/AIDS education and care as it affects GLB persons, and affirmation of the gifts and ministries of GLB clergy and laity.
However, the 2003 Transgender resolution was the first time that transgender concerns were addressed at this level.

Where can I learn more about "ONA" and the "UCC"?"