Last week, thanks to the enthusiastic and dedicated efforts of six FRS members, the Unitarian Universalist Association renewed our official status as a Welcoming Congregation for LGBTQ people. FRS first obtained that status over twenty years ago. In his letter approving our application for renewal, the Rev. Michael Crumpler of the UUA wrote, “Sincere congratulations on your ongoing commitment to serve the LGBTQ+ community in and beyond Newburyport… It is clear that FRS understands that becoming recognized as a Welcoming Congregation is a commitment rather than an end point.”
What kinds of things have contributed to our welcome? The rainbow on our Wayside Pulpit (outside the Parish Hall); the Our Whole Lives program that’s facilitates discussion among 7th and 8th graders on sexual language, gender roles and diversity, gender identity, and sexual orientation; Journeys of Faith by gay and transgender church members. What’s next? The application process has already been a catalyst for more discussion and programming in 2018. The committee has particularly highlighted the need for outreach beyond our congregation, especially in building relationships with LGBTQ community partners.
Members of the Welcoming Committee (aka LGBTQ and Friends) lit the chalice this past Sunday morning. They are: Lee McLaughlin, Beverly Heinze-Lacey, Jo An Kincaid, Alex Gramling, James Funston, and Maureen Adams, with staff support from Diane Young.