In March not only do we prepare ourselves for Easter, but remember that on March 13, 1996, First Congregational Church of Eugene was certified an Open and Affirming Congregation.

What does it mean to be Open and Affirming? 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.

We achieve this 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 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.

Each service in March opens with a church member gracefully engaging with the congregation by briefly narrating their own experience with gender and sexual orientation. On Sunday March 12 after church, we had a special celebration of our church’s ONA certification in Fellowship Hall. Come join us every Sunday in March as we both remember the last days Jesus’ ministry on earth and celebrate our own ministry as an Open and Affirming Congregation.