How does my church become ONA?


The Open and Affirming Coalition certifies local churches and other ministries of the United Church of Christ as “Open and Affirming” after adoption of an ONA covenant welcoming all persons into Christian community, including equal participation in the life and ministries of the church. An explicit welcome to LGBTQ+ persons is required. Most ONA covenants also welcome other communities that historically have been excluded or marginalized by the church.

ONA settings include:

  • Local congregations.
  • Associations and Conferences.
  • Colleges, universities and seminaries.
  • Campus ministries.
  • Health and human-service ministries
  • Other UCC-affiliated ministries.
Congregations and other settings should understand before their vote that an Open and Affirming commitment is not only a policy, statement, declaration or an amendment to the church’s bylaws, but a covenant which, in our tradition, is a binding promise to “walk together in all God’s ways” (Constitution of the United Church of Christ). An ONA vote should always take place in the context of prayer and worship.

Normally, the Coalition requires an extended period of study, prayer, reflection and dialogue before the congregation or governing body votes on an ONA covenant. Exceptions can be made for new church starts organized as LGBTQ+-welcoming communities, and in some other cases. Read our Alternative Track to ONA Certification for more information, and if your congregation is interested in pursuing this option, contact us at

Some congregations may choose to work towards a consensus instead of a vote. Resources on consensus-building will be posted at a later date.

If your congregation has already adopted an ONA covenant and is seeking recognition, please use our ONA Covenant Certification Form.