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Open and Affirming (ONA) is an official designation of congregations and other bodies within the United Church of Christ denomination affirming the full inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons (LGBT) in life and ministry of that church body.

The Open and Affirming Program is a program of the Coalition for LGBT Concerns that maintains the listings of ONA settings and encourages UCC churches, campus ministries, seminaries, etc., to engage members in an intentional study process on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and then to declare publicly their full welcome and inclusion of LGBT people. The ONA program is one of several LGBT-welcoming church movements to emerge in American Christianity (mostly Protestantism) in the 1980s.


In 1985 the United Church of Christ's General Synod adopted the Open and Affirming (ONA) resolution, encouraging all UCC congregations to welcome (or consider welcoming) gay, lesbian, and bisexual members into their life and programs. Due to the nature of UCC polity, this statement had no legislative authority over local congregations, instead urging and encouraging them on this matter.

Although the 1985 General Synod urged local churches to become open and affirming, no infrastructure at the national church was created to support this initiative (for example, resources to assist congregations in considering the issue or any system of keeping record of which congregations had declared themselves officially open and affirming). As a result, the ONA program, headed up by UCC members Rev. Ann B. Day and Donna Enberg, was started in 1987 by the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns in order to fulfill these responsibilities. [175293] To this day, the ONA program, including the UCC's only 'official' listing of open and affirming congregations, remains a program of The Coalition, a body independent of the national setting of the church.

New York City's Riverside Churchmarker, under the pastoral leadership of the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin, was the first in the UCC to be listed as ONA. [175294]

According to the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, as of July 2007, 657 UCC congregations are listed as officially Open and Affirming. (As a note, a total of 702 congregations have adopted ONA statements since 1987; the 657 number accounts for congregations that have closed, merged, or otherwise are no longer listed.) In addition, 19 of the 38 conferences, 10 new church starts in application to join the UCC, all 7 seminaries of the UCC and 4 historically-related seminaries, and 6 UCC-related campus ministries have adopted official ONA statements.


The website of the United Church of Christ has stated, "The United Church of Christ seeks to be Multiracial, Multicultural, Open and Affirming, and Accessible to All - A Church where everyone is welcome!"

In reaction against the perceived promotion of the ONA movement by denominational officials, fifty-nine congregations have identified themselves as "faithful and welcoming" and affirming the Lexington Confession (named for the North Carolinamarker town where it was drafted), which affirms marriage as an institutiuon between a man and woman. [175295]. The FWC website states "This perspective on human sexuality has been affirmed by General Synods in “non-binding” resolutions [sic] summarized by the 'Open and Affirming' movement. Only ten percent of UCC churches have officially adopted the ONA perspective, but the entire denomination is being marketed as ONA through the Still Speaking campaign." [175296]

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