Called to be an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Open & Affirming Church

Be Part of the Movement

Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, conferences, and other settings in the UCC that make a public, collective commitment to welcome, affirm, and celebrate persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. ONA churches commit to the work of Building an Inclusive Church and creating a culture within the Church that extravagantly welcomes people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) as a part of the Church’s love for all people.

The Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences joined this growing movement with a public commitment to be LGBTQ+ Inclusive Conferences and Open and Affirming settings of the United Church of Christ. The Conferences invite all congregations to be a part of the holy work of Building an Inclusive Church, participating in Brave Spaces for dialogue and learning, and embracing similar covenants of inclusivity and welcome in their local church.

What’s the Next Step?

The holy call to be an LGBTQ+ Inclusive and Open and Affirming Church is a lifelong journey. The designation is not the destination; rather it is only the beginning of an ongoing commitment to education, self-examination, relationship building, institutional changes, community engagement, and justice work. 
As you discern your congregation’s next faithful step, consider these invitations: 
  • Connect with a Collaborating Partner 
  • Read the “Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit”
  • Join in with others in the Building an Inclusive Church Online Training
  • Participate in BRAVE SPACE: Open Conversations for LGBTQ+ Inclusive and ONA Congregations in the Making
  • Explore additional LGBTQ+ Inclusive and Open and Affirming Church Resources to inspire your next faithful step
Find these resources and more listed on this webpage.

Download the Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit

Building an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Church is about creating a culture within your congregation.  The Building an Inclusive Church toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help facilitate a journey in your faith community and extend a specific welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.  Download a copy of the Toolkit specifically adapted for the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences of the UCC.

Building an Inclusive Church Online Training

sidewalk chalk on the steps of the Decorah UCC reading "You are welcome here"

Join in with others exploring how to build an inclusive church in this day-long online training.  Building an Inclusive Church (BIC) training helps your church team learn to design and implement a journey for your faith community to publicly and intentionally welcome people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Building an Inclusive Church Training equips you with ways to create dialogue, deepening relationships throughout your faith community rather than sparking debate and division.

Training schedule coming soon!

BRAVE SPACE: Open Conversations for LGBTQ+ Inclusive and ONA Congregations in the Making

Clergy and congregation members in the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences are invited to join the Conference Ministerial staff and Conference Collaborating Partners for conversation centered on fostering LGBTQ+ inclusive and Open and Affirming churches. Join in to learn how to cultivate Brave Spaces in your congregation, share ideas for beginning or continuing LGBTQ+ inclusivity and ONA work in your congregation, dialogue about current events and their impact, build relationships with people across the Conferences, and discern how to take the next faithful step. 

Zoom schedule coming soon!

More Resources for Becoming an LGBTQ+ Inclusive and Open and Affirming Church

Collaborating Partners

The Conference’s Collaborating Partners are available to help your congregation with creating Brave Space, moving towards being an inclusive church, and striving to be an anti-racist church. They collaborate with leaders via phone or video conference to help a church create a culture for Brave Space, plan, answer questions and dialogue about best practices and resources, build momentum, and expand programs for learning and action. Request to be connected with a Conference Collaborating Partner by emailing bravespace@ucctcm.org or by calling the Conference Office 515-277-6369.