What is the Welcoming Congregation Program?
The Welcoming Congregation Program is a completely volunteer program for congregations that seek to create a community that is especially inclusive of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex and queer people. It consists of a series of workshops developed by the UUA. The goal of the workshops is to reduce prejudice by increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations. Some of the workshops include: How Homophobia Hurts Heterosexuals; Connections to Other Forms of Oppression; Gender Socialization; and Homophobia and Religious Perspectives on Sexual Orientation. In 1996, the curriculum was expanded to include Transgender 101, Bisexuality, and Sexual Orientation and Racism. Many congregations offer the workshop series several consecutive times as an adult religious education curriculum open to all members and friends. In some congregations the workshop series (and later the entire program) is sponsored by a Welcoming Congregation Task Force/Committee created for just this purpose, while other congregations sponsor the workshop series through their Interweave chapters.
In 1987 the Unitarian Universalist Association established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee found many negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance about bisexual, gay, and lesbian people, which resulted in the exclusion of bisexual, gay, and lesbian people from their churches. As a result of these findings, the delegates of the 1989 UUA General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to initiate the Welcoming Congregation program to educate its members. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet its goals and each unique situation can bring positive changes to individuals and congregations.
Our congregation became the first official Welcoming Congregation in the Intermountain West in 1995.