Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.
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.
Every congregation, campus ministry etc. that adds its name and commitment to the ONA movement helps to counter the widespread perception that “Christians think being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is wrong/sinful.” The ONA message is that sexuality is a good gift of our Creator, as is its responsible, loving expression. God’s love, Christ’s church, and the Spirit’s power are for people of every color, age, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, economic status, and ability – whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. As the list of churches and other bodies which affirm this grows, so does the proclamation of God’s wondrous, inclusive love!