Open and Affirming (ONA) Ministry

Posted on: December 1st, 2011 by

OPEN AND AFFIRMING (ONA) PROCESS

Congregational Church of Needham, United Church of Christ
November 1998 – January 2000

This process was blessed by the dedication and prayerful work of the Board of Deacons (past and present) and by the many individuals who participated in the series and shared stories, struggles, concerns and joys. The process was guided by the Needham Church’s Covenant, which reminds us of what it means to accept the risks and challenges of following the example of Jesus.

Organized in 1998 by the Board of Deacons, the ONA Task Force was charged with developing an educational process for our church to discuss the issue of welcoming lesbian, gay and bisexual people into the church. The education process took many forms during the first year.
•EDUCATIONAL FORUMS after worship, included the following topics:

•”Breaking the Wall of Silence” (introduction to the subject and the ONA process)
•”Attitudes about Homosexuality”
•”Understanding Sexual Orientation”
•”Sexism, Heterosexism and Homophobia”
•”The Bible and Homosexuality”

•PANEL DISCUSSIONS

•PARENT PANEL – Parents from the congregation spoke and answered questions about their experience with their children and the topic

• YOUTH PANEL – Youth and young adults in our church spoke and answered questions about their feelings on the open and affirming process and their church (December 1999)

•SERMONS on the Sodom and Gomorrah story, on Blessing Ceremonies for lesbian and gay couples, and on being a welcoming congregation
• AT-HOME DISCUSSIONS during 4-month period to share concerns and deal with questions in small groups, facilitated by church members familiar with the topic.
• INFORMATION – An info BULLETIN BOARD in the church hallway; FOCUS entries, including updates, schedule of events, and information presented approximately every other month; AT-A-GLANCE INFORMATIONAL PACKETS for congregants to read at home
• Two OPEN FORUMS held by the Deacons to answer questions from the congregation
• VISITS to CHURCH COMMITTEES by Task Force members during the fall to discuss the ONA process
• STATEMENT WORKSHOP – congregation met to revise and finalize the ONA Statement
•OPEN AND AFFIRMING STATEMENT ADOPTED by congregational vote on February 13, 2000

The Congregational Church of Needham is an open and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ.  It is located at 1154 Great Plain Avenue in Needham, MA.  Worship is at 10am every Sunday throughout the year.   For more information, visit the church’s website at www.needhamucc.org or call 781-444-2510.