An Open and Affirming Church
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After a two-year study which included numerous after-church forums and a myriad of Parish News articles, the members of First Congregational Church of Reading, United Church of Christ, convened at a special meeting on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2002 to vote on whether or not to adopt an Open and Affirming (ONA) statement, and thereby, declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation. After some discussion, the statement was adopted by the affirmative vote of 83% of those in attendance. We were subsequently recognized by The Open and Affirming Coalition of the U.C.C. as being 413th ONA congregation in the United Church of Christ.

Open and Affirming, or ONA, is a movement in the United Church of Christ wherein churches explicitly pledge that they will include all people, including those who happen to have been born gay, lesbian or transgendered, into the full life and ministry of the church. Other denominations have similar movements, although named differently. The particular statement adopted by our congregation is all inclusive. Thus we explicitly embrace all groups who have at one time or another been shunned or discriminated against by the Christian church, not just those who are gay, lesbian or transgendered, but also those with varying ethnicities, economic or social status, physical and emotional abilities, etc. More background on the issues involved in the ONA process can be found in documents published by our church's ONA committee on the history of the process at First Congregational Church of Reading, U.C.C., in a the answers to frequently asked questions, or FAQ, including a set of references, and, in addition, our church's ONA statement itself. The FAQ are also available for download in portable document format.

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© 2003–2006 by Lawrence G. Piper
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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2006