Open and Affirming
First Congregational United Church of Christ is proud to be the first United Church of Christ Congregation in Michigan to become fully Open and Affirming in 1989.
They give witness to the ways in which the gifts of God are being liberated for service in the world. In developing the OPEN AND AFFIRMING policies and programs, careful consideration has been given to the biblical tradition, but there has not been a literal approach to the interpretation of scripture. Rather, a critical method of biblical study has been engaged, which takes into account the language, context, culture and other important exegetical methods employed to discern the meanings of the texts and their implications for contemporary life.
WHAT DOES “ONA” MEAN?
To say that a UCC church is “Open and Affirming” means that it has publicly and specifically declared that those of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions (LGBTQ) are welcome in its full life and ministry. ONA congregations offer a spirit of hospitality and show a willingness to live out that extravagant welcome in meaningful ways.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is not organized in a hierarchical way and therefore we are not a doctrinal church.
The local church is the basic unit of mission and has the basic freedom to determine its own mission in light of God’s call. This means there is much diversity among members, local churches and other settings of the UCC on “Open and Affirming” LGBT concerns. The work of the national setting of the UCC is guided by the significant body of social policies adopted by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the representative decision making body of the national setting
There is a significant and growing consensus among biblical scholars about the few biblical texts that are often referenced as the basis for condemning same-gender loving people of God. Contemporary biblical scholarship argues strongly against this condemnation and finds a much more significant Gospel message that supports the inclusion of LGBT persons into the full life and mission of the church. An example of the biblical scholarship concerning homosexuality and scripture is an article by Rev. Dr. Walter Wink (Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City) found here.
Informed by sound biblical scholarship and his experience of the ministries of LGBT persons, Rev. Paul Sherry, past President of the UCC, wrote a pastoral letter to the church on the rights of LGBT persons in society and their membership and ministry in the UCC, entitled: Now, No Condemnation, found here.
Here is a young man Matthew Vines who will wow you with his sermon “Every Biblical Argument Against Being Gay, Debunked Biblically”