Open & Affirming: LGBTQA
We, the members of Journey United Church of Christ, declare ourselves to be an “Open and Affirming” faith community. We seek to be a community which welcomes all persons of every race, language, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, economic or marital status and faith background. We acknowledge the history of the institutional church in condemning and excluding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered person, and in condoning such discrimination by its silence. We commit ourselves to work diligently to end such oppression and discrimination following the model of our God.
“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. Journey has been “Open and Affirming” since their birth.
What does “Open and Affirming” (ONA) mean?
“Open and Affirming” (ONA) is a movement of more than 1,100 churches that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members. More than 275,000 members of the United Church of Christ belong to ONA churches and our movement is growing.
After a time of study, dialogue and prayer, churches adopt an ONA “covenant” committing their members to welcome LGBT seekers, support their relationships, and advocate for their basic rights. ONA churches take seriously the Bible’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)
WISE Covenant (Welcome, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged)
Our Commitment to Being a Mental Health Congregation
(adopted January 10, 2021)
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental health challenges in a given year. The number of family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors touched by those facing emotional challenges is considerably higher. More than 40 percent of those seeking help with psychiatric issues turn first to a house of worship. As the Psalmist says: “The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and rescues them from all their afflictions. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed” (Psalm 34:18-20). Yet mental health and its impact remains stigmatized.
We, the people of Journey United Church of Christ of Albany, NY – open and affirming to all – seek to lift the stigma by offering welcome, inclusiveness, support, and engagement to our members, and to people in the broader community, who have or are impacted by brain disorders and emotional and mental health challenges and illnesses. These include, but are not limited to, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and addiction, trauma, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive and developmental disorders, and generalized stress and grief.
We, Journey United Church of Christ, joyously extend our church’s compassionate welcome and love to members and non-members alike who experience and/or are touched by mental health challenges. To that end, we commit ourselves to providing and promoting education, activities, and resources for individuals and families, as well as advocating for legislative and other action in collaboration with mental health and other advocacy organizations and individuals.
∙ To be open, accepting, welcoming, and non-judgmental toward diverse people, including those affected by mental illness .
∙ To nourish and support every person’s spiritual and personal journeys, and to generously minister to their needs to the extent possible .
∙ To offer individuals and families touched by mental illness a sense of belonging, to lift them up, and to promote their participation in congregational activities and church life.
∙ To empathize with and practice compassion towards “every single one,” including those in need of support due to mental health challenges.
∙ To continue supporting agencies dedicated to serving individuals and families affected by mental illness, and to assist those individuals seeking our support in accessing these services.
∙ To stand up for our siblings who live with mental illness against discriminatory social and legal practices by embodying resistance and daring, and by actively pursuing a stance of public advocacy.
∙ To continue to provide education to our members and to all to promote mental health awareness and acceptance, to work to reduce stigma, and to offer support through contributions to our church’s forums, website, social media and appropriate outreach materials.
∙ To understand that worship is a place where mental health will be addressed on a regular basis, and to that end, to commit to celebrating a Mental Health Sunday, annually at a minimum, and lift up mental health awareness on other suitable occasions
∙ To take additional actions as needed or identified
We also commit to including mental health support as part of our Member Care Ministry.
This vote formalizes our commitment to being a WISE congregation – Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged –for mental health, and further affirms that we will become ever-more WISE to congregants and community members impacted by mental illness.