Unitarian Universalism and LGBT people

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A rally at the Unitarian Church in Summit in New Jersey advocating marriage equality for same-sex couples in the state. The blue banner reads "Say 'I Do' to Marriage Equality". Marriage equality rally and banner at Unitarian church in Summit NJ.jpg
A rally at the Unitarian Church in Summit in New Jersey advocating marriage equality for same-sex couples in the state. The blue banner reads "Say 'I Do' to Marriage Equality".

Unitarian Universalism, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) have a longstanding tradition of welcoming LGBTQ people.

Contents

History

Unitarianism and Universalism, two religious movements that merged in 1961 to form Unitarian Universalism, had a long liberal religious history of good works and reform of social institutions and were a home for many abolitionists, feminists, and other forward thinkers, including gay liberationists. [1] For example, one of the founders of the Mattachine Foundation was a gay Universalist minister, Rev. Wallace de Ortega Maxey (pastor of the First Universalist Church of Los Angeles), and two of the founders of the Mattachine Society—Bob Hull and Chuck Rowland—were also Universalists. [2]

Unitarian Universalism has made a name for itself as one of the most LGBTQ-affirming denominations. It was the first religion to have an openly gay minister (in 1969), the first to officially condemn discrimination against homosexuals (in 1970), and the first to take an official stance on many matters of particular importance to LGBTQ people. [1] The first documented same-sex weddings conducted by Unitarian Universalist ministers were performed by Rev. Ernest Pipes Jr., at the Community Church of Santa Monica, California, in 1957, and Rev. Harry Scholefield, at the First Unitarian Society of San Francisco, in 1958. [3] In September 1969, Rev. James L. Stoll publicly came out as gay, making him the first ordained minister of a major religious group in the U.S. or Canada to do so. [4] [1]

In 1971, the Unitarian Universalist Association published About Your Sexuality, a groundbreaking comprehensive sex education program for teenagers in Unitarian Universalist churches that treated homosexuality as a valid and normal form of sexuality. [5] The program was revised a number of times over the next several decades and in 1999 was replaced with Our Whole Lives, a joint program with the United Church of Christ that continues to be a leader in LGBTQ-affirming sexual education programs and now includes curricula for all ages. [6] The denomination has ordained ministers regardless of orientation since the 1970s, and the first openly transgender person was ordained in 1988. [7] The annual general assembly of the UUA has passed more than two dozen resolutions on LGBTQ topics, including same-sex marriage, LGB people in the military, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and transgender rights. [8]

In 1989, the UUA launched a Welcoming Congregation Program to support churches in intentionally becoming more inclusive of LGBTQ people. [9] After meeting requirements related to church policy, education, advocacy, and more, congregations are designated as Welcoming Congregations. As of 2019, 75% of all U.S. Unitarian Universalist congregations and 99% of all Canadian Unitarian Universalist congregations had gone through the process of becoming Welcoming Congregations. [10] [11] The UUA has officially supported Unitarian Universalist clergy performing services of union for same-sex couples since 1984 and the denomination was very active in the fight for marriage equality in the United States, including through its advocacy campaign Side With Love (formerly Standing on the Side of Love). [12] [13] [7]

Instituted organizations

The UUA has dedicated denominational staff to the work of becoming ever more welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ people since 1973 through an office now called LGBTQ Ministries, making it the first major national religious organization to open an office in support of civil rights and social acceptance of LGBTQ people. [7] [14] The office of LGBTQ Ministries administers the Welcoming Congregation Program through which UU churches take action to increase their inclusion of LGBTQ people. Once the requirements have been met, the UUA designates that church as a Welcoming Congregation and adds an icon to the listing in the UUA Directory. [15]

Canadian

The Canadian Unitarian Council similarly supports the Welcoming Congregation Program and recognizes Welcoming Congregations. [11] The first same-sex marriage performed by a church in Canada (after the 1972 civil same-sex marriage of Michel Girouard and Rejean Tremblay of Montreal) was that of Chris Vogel and Richard North, married by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg on February 11, 1974, officiated by Unitarian minister Rev. Norm Naylor. [16] [17] Unitarian Universalists were responsible for the first same-sex marriages performed in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan, mostly in the 1970s, although the provincial governments often refused to recognize the marriages at the time.

Interweave

From 1993 until 2016, there was a fellowship of LGBT Unitarian Universalists and supporters called Interweave Continental. Interweave was a related organization of the UUA, actively working to end oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sometimes, an individual church's Welcoming Congregation Committee evolved into an Interweave Chapter. Each chapter requested financial and advocacy support from the fellowship with which it is connected. [18]

TRUUsT

Founded in 2004, TRUUsT (Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together) is an organization of trans Unitarian Universalist ministers, religious educators, seminarians, and other leaders. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

Canadian Unitarian Council Canadian religious organization

Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) formed on May 14, 1961 to be the national organization for Canadians who belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association. Until 2002, almost all member congregations of the CUC were also members of the UUA, and most services to CUC member congregations were provided by the UUA. However, after an agreement between the CUC and the UUA, most services since 2002 have been provided by the CUC to its own member congregations, with the UUA continuing to provide ministerial settlement services. Some Canadian congregations have continued to be members of both the CUC and UUA, while others are members of only the CUC.

International Council of Unitarians and Universalists

The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is an umbrella organization founded in 1995 comprising many Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist organizations. Some groups represent only a few hundred people; while the largest, the Unitarian Universalist Association, had more than 160,000 members as of May 2011—including over 150,000 in the United States.

Homosexuality and religion Attitudes of religions to homosexuality

The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and denominations, with regard to different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. The present-day doctrines of the world's major religions and their denominations vary vastly in their attitudes toward these sexual orientations.

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist congregations. It was formed in 1961 by the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. Both of these predecessor organizations began as Christian denominations of the Unitarian and Universalist varieties respectively. However, modern Unitarian Universalists see themselves as a separate religion with its own beliefs and affinities. They define themselves as non-creedal, and draw wisdom from various religions and philosophies, including humanism, pantheism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and Earth-centered spirituality. Thus, the UUA is a syncretistic religious group with liberal leanings.

Unitarian Universalism Non-credal liberal religion

Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists assert no creed, but instead are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth, guided by a dynamic, "living tradition". Currently, these traditions are summarized by the Six Sources and Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism, documents recognized by all congregations who choose to be a part of the Unitarian Universalist Association. These documents are 'living', meaning always open for revisiting and reworking. Unitarian Universalist (U.U.) congregations include many atheists, agnostics, and theists within their membership—and there are U.U. churches, fellowships, congregations, and societies around the world. The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in liberal Christianity, specifically unitarianism and universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love. Congregations and members seek inspiration and derive insight from all major world religions.

Our Whole Lives

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a series of six comprehensive sexuality curricula for children, teenagers, young adults and adults published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries. Publication was the result of seven years of collaborative effort by the two faiths to prepare material which addresses sexuality throughout the lifespan in age appropriate ways.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affirming religious groups are religious groups that welcome LGBT members, do not consider homosexuality to be a sin or negative, and affirm LGBT relationships. They include entire religious denominations, as well as individual places of worship. Some are composed mainly of non-LGBT members and also have specific programs to welcome LGBT people, while others are composed mainly of LGBT members.

Peter Morales is the former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Morales was the UUA's first Latino president. In the early 2000s, he was the senior minister of the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Jefferson County, Colorado, a rapidly growing Unitarian Universalist congregation in the northwestern Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area. He also worked for the UUA from 2002 to 2004. In 2008, he announced his candidacy for president, and in 2009 he was elected. As the result of a controversy regarding the UUA's hiring practices and charges of institutional racism, Morales resigned as president in 2017, three months before the end of the term.

All Souls Unitarian Church Church in Oklahoma, U.S.

All Souls Unitarian Church is a Unitarian Universalist ("UU") church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is one of the largest UU congregations in the world.

The relationship between religion and LGBT people can vary greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and sects, and regarding different forms of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender identity.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) affirming denominations in Judaism are Jewish religious groups that welcome LGBT members and do not consider homosexuality to be a sin. They include both entire Jewish denominations, as well as individual synagogues. Some are composed mainly of non-LGBT members and also have specific programs to welcome LGBT people, while others are composed mainly of LGBT members.

Pacific Unitarian Church Church in California, United States

Pacific Unitarian Church is a Unitarian Universalist congregation located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. It is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, within the Pacific Southwest District. PUC was recognized as one of four "Breakthrough Congregations" in 2008, reflected in a $75,000 donation to Community Church UU of New Orleans. Membership as of 2019 is around 180 with weekly attendance averaging over 90 adults and children.

The Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF) is a Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation located in Durham, North Carolina. In 2018, over seven hundred people were members of ERUUF, making it the largest UU congregation in NC and one of the largest in the UUA. It sponsors the UU campus ministry program at Duke University, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship @ Duke.

Unitarian Church of Barnstable

The Unitarian Church of Barnstable is a historic church located on Old King's Highway Historic District in Barnstable, Massachusetts. The congregation was established in 1639, and the current building dates to 1907. A short walk from the church is Barnstable village and Barnstable Harbor. The senior minister, Rev. Dr. Kristen L. Harper, was the second woman of African descent to become a Unitarian Universalist minister. There is a pipe organ located in the sanctuary balcony and a church choir that sings during services. The congregation comes from a variety of religious and philosophical backgrounds including Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, humanist, and others. The traditional weekly water communion portion of the Sunday service, which is open to anyone, is done with local beach stones. A children and youth ministry helps create the essential building blocks for a spiritual, loving, healthy, compassionate, and proactive community.

Christianity and transgender people Attitude of Christianity to gender identity and transgender people

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Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness (UUPA) is an independent organization of Unitarian Universalists seeking to promote greater understanding and acceptance of polyamory within the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations.

Susan Frederick-Gray is President of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is the first woman to be elected to the office.

First Parish in Malden, Universalist is a Unitarian Universalist ("UU") church in Malden, Massachusetts and a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was gathered in 1648 to support the establishment of the city of Malden. It is one of the oldest churches in Massachusetts. The current minister is the Rev. Otto O'Connor, who was called to be the congregation's minister in 2017.

References

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  4. "My Greatly Human Hometown Minister--James Lewis Stoll, 1936-1994"
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  11. 1 2 "Welcoming Congregations". Canadian Unitarian Council Conseil unitarien du Canada. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
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  13. "UUA launches 'Standing on the Side of Love' campaign". UU World Magazine. 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  14. Robinson, B.A. (2017-01-22). "Unitarian Universalist Association, a Liberal Faith Group in the U.S., and the LGBT community" . Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  15. "How to Apply for Official Recognition as a Welcoming Congregation | UUA.org". www.uua.org. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  16. Frum, Barbara (February 21, 1974). "Gay Winnipeg Couple Marries". CBC Digital Archives. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
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  18. "Interweave - About". Interweave Continental. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 2019-03-17. "Interweave". Unitarian Universalist Association. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  19. "About". TRUUsT. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2021-09-16.