Welcoming Congregation

Welcoming Cogregation Commmittee

Nan Corliss, Chair


What's a Welcoming Congregation?

A Welcoming Congregation works on increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations. A Welcoming Congregation educates its members on becoming more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. A Welcoming Congregation opens the church as safe space for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender persons, takes positions on oppression in our larger communities, and works on outreach

What We Have Done

In 2004 MVUUF became a certified Welcoming Congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, opening and affirming to persons of all sexualities, by a vote of the members. This came after a year of intensive study and sharing about issues concerning the BLGTQ community.

In 2006 the committee commissioned a sign to be placed in our garden declaring, “MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT”. Every year since we rallied at the capitol, met with, wrote letters to and made phone calls to our legislators about every amendment which came before them concerning marriage equality. Along the way our efforts convinced enough legislators to keep one proposed constitutional amendment, declaring marriage between “only one man and one women” from coming to a vote of the citizens. In the end we could not keep a 2nd try for this same amendment. We joined with the MN United for All Families Campaign to defeat this amendment. In 2013 this amendment went down to defeat, much to the joy and surprise of many. We phone banked weekly to citizens all across the state, we had conversations with friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, we wrote letters, met with legislators and it worked. The voters defeated the amendment. A bigger surprise was the effort right after this defeat to make same sex marriage legal in MN. Many said, “Not so fast”. Others said, “We are well organized and have people’s ears, let’s go for it NOW.” Well, it happened and our legislature voted to legally recognize same sex marriages with all the benefits and privileges that heterosexual marriages have. MN became the 12th state to legalize same sex marriage and in August 2013, couples began obtaining marriage licenses to become officially and legally married. Our garden sign had stood for 8 years and now the vision had indeed come true.

Since August 2013, 2 same sex couples from our fellowship have been married. One by our interim minister, Janet Newman, and one by a retired past minister Mary Samuels. What a joy this has been.

 

In 2011 the committee commissioned a quilter to make the banner over the doors to the sanctuary. Many are surprised to look up and find this, even though they come to services often. The banner says “We Celebrate Diversity- A Welcoming Congregation. Look up as you enter the sanctuary.

 

In 2014 the legislature passed the Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative.  This bill requirements each school district needs to meet to make their schools a safe environment for everyone. The schools have flexibility on how they achieve these requirements. A committee was established at the state level to provide curriculum for staff and teachers concerning how to handle bullying and schools can ask for support from this committee.

Some schools have been resistant to initiating a plan. We will be following the progress of the initiative.

What is Ahead to Accomplish?

  • Watching the state-by-state progression towards marriage equality in all 50 states.
  • Following the American groups who are "Transporting Hate" to other countries around the world and stirring up hate towards GLBTQ persons in foreign countries.