An Open and Affirming Sub-Committee of the SJW Committee

In 1997, the First Congregational Church of Eugene passed a resolution and was certified by our parent organization to be an Open and Affirming Congregation. Open and Affirming (ONA) is an official designation of congregations and other settings in the United Church of Christ (UCC) affirming the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and non-binary persons (LGBTQ) in the church’s life and ministry.

It is the goal of the ONA Ministry in the new year to help our congregation achieve this goal of full inclusion every day through “Graceful Engagement” which means that we accept each other as God accepts us, forgive each other as God forgives us, and remain relentlessly faithful to each other as God is faithful to us. Graceful engagement seeks to create a safe space for everyone (repeat that: a safe space for everyone) in an ONA conversation. It requires listening with patience and respect, but also the courage to speak the truth in love.

We hope to achieve Graceful Engagement not just by giving the LGBTQ members of the congregation a chance to tell their stories, but by encouraging all of us, all members of this congregation, to tell each other our stories about how we came to be who we are and to listen deeply to the stories of others. The ONA ministry is looking forward to extending opportunities in which our church can support, engage, and love, LGBTQ people in our faith family, and in the greater community.

We lost one of our most passionate and beloved members in 2023, Pete Peterson. In 2024 and in his honor and memory, we hope to expand the membership in our committee with both binary (straight) and non-binary (LGBTQ) members of our church. Making our church a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQ community must be a collaborative effort. We hope to do this through activities that engage the whole congregation