Open and Affirming

OCC is an Open and Affirming Church.

Open and Affirming Statement

We are an open Church, affirming the dignity and worth of every person as created in the image of God. We welcome into our fellowship and membership persons of every race, language, age, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, economic circumstance, marital status, and faith background, and we invite all people to share and participate fully in the life and ministry of Orient Congregational Church. Adopted April 10, 2005; Recommitted 2021.

Following the teachings of Jesus we heartily welcome everyone into God’s covenantal community.

Whatever your race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic or marital status, variety of thoughts and beliefs, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression – whoever you are and wherever you come from you are welcome into the full life and ministry of our church.

As followers of Jesus, the Christ, we, the people of the Orient Congregational Church, extend our whole-hearted welcome to all and declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ.

We Welcome You

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of faith often experience emotional and spiritual injury in churches that condemn their capacity to love and seek love. Because they’ve learned that “All Are Welcome” usually doesn’t apply to them, they can’t assume that any church will be safe for them and their families.

A public welcome by an Open and Affirming (ONA) church sends a clear message to LGBT seekers that they have a home in the United Church of Christ.

A congregation’s affirmation and support through an ONA covenant can be a life-changing and life-saving experience—especially for LGBT youth

A public welcome to LGBT seekers helps churches grow. When new ONA churches attract new members, many of them are young straight couples starting new families: they identify with the values ONA represents, and want their children to learn the faith in a welcoming church. By adopting an ONA covenant, a congregation is taking seriously St. Paul’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)

You begin with the premise that the Bible is the source of basic values that guide our relationships, including respect for others as God’s children and as our family in the Body of Christ. Virtues of hospitality, compassion and justice are the basis for any exploration of your congregation’s welcome for LGBTQ seekers and their families

Q. What can I expect in an ONA church?

A. A community of faith where you and your family are safe!

Because each congregation in the United Church of Christ is independent, and therefore free to make its own decisions, there is a broad diversity of theology and practice in our tradition. In the UCC, there is no hierarchy that can impose uniformity on our churches. Each ONA congregation has independently adopted an Open and Affirming covenant after a journey of dialogue, study and prayer.

There are differences between congregations, but generally, an ONA church:

  • Is a safe space for open and honest conversation about human sexuality and gender identity
  • Encourages LGBTQ members to serve in lay and ordained leadership.
  • Celebrates same-sex weddings.
  • Celebrates the anniversaries of LGBTQ married and partnered couples and offers rites to honor gender transitions.
  • Advocates for LGBTQ civil rights, and defends their LGBTQ neighbors when their dignity or safety are threatened.
  • Is willing to host meetings of support groups like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
  • Advertises that it is a safe space for LGBTQ and questioning youth.
  • Participates as a group in the local LGBTQ Pride Parade.
  • Celebrates ONA Sunday once a year and annually renews its ONA covenant.

Experience Orient Congregational Church