The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ is launching this week a campaign to encourage ONA congregations to display their welcome effectively through rainbow images posted at or near the entrance of the church.
“Our research shows that ONA churches that are visible and demonstrative in their welcome to their LGBTQ neighbors can attract new members—not only LGBTQ seekers but also straight Millennials who are attracted to the values ONA represents,” says Andy Lang, the Coalition’s executive director.
The campaign encourages churches who display a rainbow image prominently at their entrance or on their front lawn to share pictures with the wider ONA movement. The Coalition is asking congregations to email their pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org: entries will be posted daily on the Coalition’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ucc.coalition beginning Monday, Feb. 22. The Coalition’s Leadership Team will judge the entries, and the winner will receive a free registration to the National ONA Gathering June 7-9 in St. Joseph, Minn.
To qualify, the rainbow image should be large enough that a driver passing at the posted speed limit can see the display.
“Effective marketing for ONA churches includes rainbow images—placed not only inside the church but especially outside, where the image will be noticed by neighbors who are walking or driving past the church,” says Lang. “While it’s important for a congregation to identify as ‘Open and Affirming’ on their signs, newsletter and website, it’s even more useful to display a rainbow prominently near the entrance. The words ‘Open and Affirming’ may not mean anything to an LGBTQ seeker, but the rainbow communicates volumes about a church’s commitment to inclusion and justice.”
The UCC Store at www.uccresources.com/collections/lgbtq sells a number of products that are suitable for display advertising, including rainbow flags, a rainbow “God Is Still Speaking” banner, and a new rainbow “Be the Church” banner. Several congregations have designed displays of rainbow doors painted with words like “GOD’S DOORS ARE OPEN TO ALL.”
“One of the best practices for ONA evangelism is visibility,” says Lang. “Churches that keep their ONA covenant under wraps are not likely to attract new members. Churches that are bold and visible can have an impact.”
For more tips on ONA evangelism, visit the Coalition website at www.openandaffirming.org/evangelism and subscribe to the Coalition’s free email newsletter for ONA churches at www.openandaffirming.org/subscribe.
Gallery of Rainbow Sign contestants
Here’s our latest entries in the ONA Coalition’s Rainbow Sign Contest. Hit each picture to display the full image, and use the “View More” button to visit that church’s website.