No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here!

“Open and Affirming” (ONA) is a movement of more than 1,800 churches and other ministries in the United Church of Christ that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) members. More than 350,000 members of the UCC belong to ONA churches—and our movement is growing rapidly.

After a time of study, dialogue and prayer, churches adopt an Open and Affirming “covenant” committing their members to welcome LGBTQ+ seekers, support their relationships, and advocate for their basic rights. All sacraments and rites of an ONA congregation are available to LGBTQ+ people, including baptism, confirmation, communion, and marriage. ONA churches take seriously the Bible’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)

Learn More

First Congregational UCC, Manhattan, Kansas

Frequently Asked Questions

A congregation becomes Open and Affirming when it affirms a public covenant that “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT)” (or people of all “sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions”) are welcome in the full life and ministry of the congregation (e.g. membership, leadership, employment). Through its covenant, the congregation promises to live out that welcome in meaningful ways in response to Christ’s teaching of radical hospitality.

Your ONA covenant will make a difference to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ adults who have personally experienced silence or condemnation in other churches. It will make a difference to LGBTQ+ youth who are at higher risk for suicide when they experience bullying or mistreatment because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. It will make a difference to parents of LGBTQ+ children whose families need the same affirmation and support congregations offer to other families. It will make a difference to LGBTQ+ seniors who are often closeted and isolated. It will make a difference to all those who attend or are affected by your congregation, who will experience a deeper understanding of the Gospel.

Unlikely. There are less than 50 ONA churches with primarily LGBTQ+ membership—out of nearly 2,000 ONA congregations in the United Church of Christ. When ONA churches publicize their welcome effectively, new members include both LGBTQ+ seekers as well as allies. Young heterosexual couples who are looking for a church with the values of an ONA covenant are typically part of the growth curve for new ONA churches.

That depends on whether the congregation has carefully planned its ONA process. An ONA experience that is not hurried, that treats everyone with respect and is a safe space for all members of the church, will usually help a congregation grow in numbers, enthusiasm, generosity and passion for the Gospel. Use the resources on this website to develop an ONA process that will unite, rather than divide, your church, and ask us if we can connect you will a trained ONA consultant who can support the congregation through an ONA process.

Each Open and Affirming congregation is part of a growing movement of LGBTQ+-welcoming churches in the United Church of Christ. When your covenant is certified, your congregation will be officially listed on the Coalition and UCC websites as an ONA church, and on other sites often used by LGBTQ+ Christians searching for a church family. Moreover, you will be connected with other ONA congregations and with the Coalition’s resources on evangelism, worship, and advocacy. And by participating in the ONA movement, your congregation will be able to share its gifts with other congregations that are exploring ONA for the first time, or seeking new ways to live into their ONA covenant.

Most congregations benefit from an extended period of discernment, prayer, study, and dialogue. Studies show that congregations that haven’t hurried through the ONA process experience reduced levels of conflict and a stronger sense of community. A well-planned ONA process will deepen relationships and help members grow in faith. But in a few cases, churches that are already Open and Affirming in practice may need only an abbreviated ONA process, and the process can be waived for new-church-starts. Contact the Coalition and we’ll help you discern whether an alternative track to ONA is right for your church.

Please complete the ONA Covenant Certification form to apply for ONA certification. Before adopting your covenant, be sure you’ve read the Coalition’s standards on our Covenants page.

If you can’t find answers to your questions on this website, contact the Coalition, and we’ll be glad to help! Ask if we can connect you with a trained consultant who can guide your church before and during its ONA journey.