In May 2003, the North Parish voted to be a Welcoming Congregation, which intentionally works to welcome and support gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people. Recognizing the efforts completed by that date, we were approved as a UUA Welcoming Congregation by the national denomination shortly thereafter. During the 2012-2013 church year, staff and members invited the congregation to engage with issues of GBLT welcome through:
For the fourth year, North Parish continued to host the weekly non-religious, regional McVagly GBLTQ youth group and provided trained adult supervision for that group. McVagly activities included offering youth support and training, networking with high school gay-straight alliances, hosting an Valentine’s Dance and walking in a Youth Pride parade. McVagly gifted the church with two new banners celebrating our welcoming status which were put outside the church to make our welcome more obvious. In addition to this youth outreach ministry, our Religious Education curriculum for 8th graders called Our Whole Lives educates our UU youth about GBLT issues and provides support for UU GBLT youth.
Church members represented North Parish in the Merrimack Valley coalition of religious congregations called Welcoming Faiths. We provided leadership and counsel to other members of the group, and participating in Welcoming Faiths events such as a movie showing of “Love Free or Die” and a webinar on learning about transgender identity. A North Parish member co-led a UCC statewide conference on improving welcoming for people of all ages. Welcoming Faiths also hosted a community event at Northern Essex Community College on “Coming Out and Keeping the Faith” with a speakers panel of GBLT youth and religious leaders.
In February, we recognized member Tad Bickford for his tremendous contributions to our Welcoming efforts with the presentation of a Courageous Love Award during the Sunday service. In April, we celebrated our 10th anniversary as a Welcoming Congregation with a Barn Dance, special Sunday service, an outreach collection for McVagly and Welcoming Faiths, and a video documentary about how North Parish became a Welcoming Congregation as well as the intersection of that effort and equal marriage efforts in Massachusetts.
If you would like to get involved with our Welcoming Congregation initiatives, please contact us.
Click here to read the 2003 Welcoming Congregation Resolution.