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UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AND HOMOSEXUALITY

Statements of inclusivity;
General Synod resolutions.

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UCC Statements of inclusivity:

In 1973, The United Church Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns was formed. 1 In 1998-NOV, Rev. Paul H. Sherry, President of the UCC, commented that the coalition "has been a prophetic presence in our church, clarifying concerns, challenging stereotypes, providing leaders for every setting of the church's life, gently and persistently changing hearts and minds, providing a refuge for those who have suffered wounds of prejudice and exclusion in church and society..." 2

In 1975, their General Synod passed a resolution in support of full civil liberties and equal protection under the law to persons of all "affectional or sexual preferences.

In 1977, the Church passed a resolution which "deplored the use of scripture to generate hatred, and the violation of civil rights of gay and bisexual persons and called upon individual members, local churches .... to continue to work for the enactment of civil rights legislation at the federal, state, and local levels of government."

Ordination of active homosexuals was formally accepted by the denomination in 1980. Its clergy are also free to bless same-sex unions. Local associations of UCC congregations have the authority to decide on their own ordination policies. Some associations, like Western North Carolina have gone on record as refusing to consider any homosexual candidate for the ministry, regardless of her or his qualifications.

Some congregations follow the homosexual-positive "Open and Affirming" program. In 1985, the General Synod formally urged local churches to welcome gay and lesbian members and advocate in their behalf against discrimination and persecution.

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General Synod resolutions/pronouncements from 1991 to now:

The General Synod meets biannually, typically in mid-July.

bullet1991: The General Synod called on the Virginia state legislature to repeal its sodomy laws and to nullify other laws directed against sexual minorities.
bullet1993: The Synod called on the church to take greater leadership to end discrimination against gays and lesbians.
bullet1997: The Synod considered a "fidelity and chastity" resolution. This was similar to those in many other Christian denominations. It would requiring members to be monogamous if married, and sexually inactive otherwise. It's main intent was to deny the legitimacy of gay and lesbian committed relationships, as well as those of heterosexuals living together without being married. The Synod took "no action" on the resolution. A second resolution was proposed and passed. Termed an "fidelity and integrity" resolution, it reaffirms "that the standard for sexual and relational behavior for members of the United Church of Christ is fidelity and integrity in marriage and in other covenanted relationships, or singleness, and in all relationships of life." When compared to the defeated fidelity and chastity proposal, it widens the standard to include both sexual and non-sexual relationships: married couples, living together couples, singles, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. It presumably also covers professional, work, friendship, social, church, and other non-sexual relationships.
bullet1999: At GS22, The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ proposed a resolution titled "Justice and Civil Rights for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Persons." which asked the delegates to "reaffirm the historic commitment to justice and civil rights for all persons including lesbian, gay and bisexual people." They asked that the UCC work to defeat DOMA-type legislation at the state level, and to support the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Finally, they asked that their congregations provide "opportunities for open, honest and respectful discussion within their Christian Education and youth programs of issues pertaining to human sexuality, utilizing curricula such as 'Created In God's Image...' " The UCC Executive Council recommended that the resolution be referred directly to the appropriate agencies for implementation.
bullet2001: Three congregations in Pennsylvania introduced a resolution that would have the General Synod disavow a 1999 "Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality , Justice and Healing" which was published by SIECUS -- the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. It was signed at the time by more than 2,000 Christian and Jewish leaders including UCC General Minister and President John H. Thomas. According to the UCC web site, the Pennsylvania resolution "asserts that President Thomas signed the declaration 'on behalf of the United Church of Christ.' The SIECUS website, however, says that the names of denominations or organizations are used 'for identification purposes only.' " The resolution also asked that the General Synod disavow the declaration's support for the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex committed unions. It was not passed. 3
bullet2005: A resolution to endorse same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly approved by General Synod 25. The resolution calls on its congregations to consider wedding policies "that do not discriminate on couples based on gender." They also ask its congregations to support changes in state marriage legislation to give equal rights to same-sex couples. An alternative resolution which would have defined marriage as being between one man and one woman was rejected. 4 Some conservative congregations are expected to leave the denomination because of this decision. More details.

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Site navigation:

Home > Conflict > HomosexualityReligious groups > Christian > UCC > here

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References used:

  1. The UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns has a web site at: http://www.ucccoalition.org
  2. The Rev. P.H. Sherry, "Now, No Condemnation," at: http://www.ucc.org/
  3. Appendix A: Standing rules for the Twenty-Thrd General Synod," UCC, at: http://www.ucc.org/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  4. "United Church of Christ backs gay marriage," Associated Press, 2005-JUL-05, at: http://www.usatoday.com/

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Copyright 1997 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1997-SEP-19
Latest update: 2005-JUL-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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