RIPPLES newsletter: National ONA Gathering, transgender health insurance, ONA movement grows to 1,239 churches

RIPPLES newsletter: National ONA Gathering, transgender health insurance, ONA movement grows to 1,239 churches

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December 17, 2014


100percentLogo vertical pink violetThe Coalition’s National Open and Affirming Gathering meets in Cleveland June 24 and 25—right before General Synod! Get your Synod experience off to a great start with this family reunion for our nationwide ONA community, with inspiring worship and music, unforgettable preaching, workshops to strengthen ONA ministry in your congregation, and an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones!

This National ONA Gathering will be special: a chance to celebrate 30 years of steady growth since General Synod’s Open and Affirming resolution in 1985. We’ll honor our movement’s founders and plan together for the future. With your help, we’re convinced the best years for the ONA movement are yet to come!

We’ve an inspiring line-up of speakers: Bishop Dwayne Royster, founding pastor of Living Waters UCC in Philadelphia, PA, will preach at opening worship Wednesday night. The Rev. Dr. Maritza Angulo de González is our keynoter on Thursday. She’s pastor of Manantial de Gracia (Spring of Grace) UCC in West Hartford, CT, and a leader in the Council for Hispanic Ministries. Both are members of the UCC’s Board of Directors.

We’ll offer two workshop tracks on Thursday: one for ONA churches, and the second for congregations exploring the possibility of an ONA commitment. The second track will train leaders in the best practices for guiding a congregation towards an ONA covenant in ways that build consensus and reduce the risk of conflict.

And don’t miss out on our Synod ONA Banquet Friday night! We promise it will be a night to remember! Our keynoter is the Rev. Dr. Edward Davis: he’s Conference Minister for the UCC’s Southern Conference, a leader in the “Moral Mondays” movement in North Carolina and an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights in the church and beyond. Dr. Davis is also a member of the UCC’s Board of Directors. The famous Coalition Choir will perform. You can reserve your seat either on the National ONA Gathering registration page or through the General Synod site.

Register for National ONA Gathering
Register for General Synod


Beginning Jan. 1, the Health Plan of the UCC Pension Boards will expand its coverage for transgender members, including gender reassignment surgery and other treatments previously excluded by the plan.

“The Open and Affirming Coalition celebrates this step towards the full inclusion of transgender people in the United Church of Christ,” says Coalition Executive Director Andy Lang. “We deeply appreciate the Pension Boards’ staff and directors for the careful work that led to the decision to expand coverage.”

The policy change was informed by a report the Pension Boards commissioned from Variance LLC. “Experience over the past decade has shown that inclusion of GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) coverage does not expose employers to a high degree of financial risk,” the study said. “Costs attributable to gender reassignment claims typically represent less than one percent of total claims paid in a given year.”

Since 2008, the study said, professional associations in the health care industry have been unanimous in their findings that gender reassignment surgery and related procedures are a “medical necessity” for many transgender patients. Joining the consensus are the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The policy change “really signals something,” said the Rev. Chris Davies, chair of the Coalition’s Transgender Health Insurance Working Group. Transgender health coverage “is a life or death issue” and a church that recognizes this “is the kind of church I’m proud of.”

More coverage on
Gender Reassignment Surgery report
Pension Boards website


Does your Open and Affirming covenant clearly welcome transgender seekers to your church? If not, this might be the time to consider expanding your covenant after an exploration of the transgender experience. If you listen to your transgender members and neighbors, you’ll hear amazing stories of spiritual depth and moral courage. The Coalition’s website offers a full range of resources to help your congregation.

Learn more


Creating Change is the premier annual event for LGBTQ activists and allies. This year’s event is Feb. 6-8 in Denver. A caucus for UCC participants gathers at 6:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7. Hosted by Coalition Executive Director Andy Lang, the caucus is an opportunity to meet other UCC activists and share your ideas about the future of our movement.

Learn more about Creating Change


2014 was a great year for the Open and Affirming movement! The Coalition certified 87 new ONA churches and ministries, and laid the foundation for more growth in 2015. With updated resources and new services for ONA churches and congregations exploring ONA, our movement is stronger than ever before!

Remember: every congregation that opens its doors to LGBT members is saving lives. Our movement must continue to grow until every UCC church can offer a confident and well-informed welcome to its LGBT neighbors!

Here are the ONA churches we’ve certified since October. And don’t forget we celebrate a new ONA church every weekday on the Coalition’s Facebook page. Come on over and join the party!

ONA Church #1239
St. Peter’s UCC
Saukville, WI

ONA Church #1238
St. Lucas United Church of Christ
Evansville, IN

ONA Church #1237
Advent United Church of Christ
Columbus, OH

ONA Church #1236
Dover United Church of Christ
Dover, PA

ONA Church #1235
The Congregational Church of Grafton
Grafton, MA

ONA Church #1234
First Congregational Church United Church of Christ
1315 North Pine St
Rochester, MI 48307

ONA Church #1233
Salem United Church of Christ
Columbia, PA

ONA Church #1232
First Congregational Church of Rhinelander
Rhinelander, WI

ONA Church #1231
Vine Congregational United Church of Christ
Lincoln, NE

ONA Church #1230
First Congregational Church of Haddam, UCC
Haddam, CT

ONA Church #1229
Hazel Park Congregational Church United Church of Christ
St. Paul, MN

ONA Church #1228
Kensington Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Kensington, CT

ONA Church #1227
Community Congregational Church of Clinton Heights
Rensselaer, NY

ONA Church #1226
Tryon Congregational Church
Tryon, NC

ONA Church #1225
United Church of Christ at the Lighthouse
Naples, FL

New Church Start
All About Jesus United Church of Christ (Ministries)
Monee, IL

ONA Ministry
Extravagance UCC – An Online Faith Community and Ministry
Cleveland, OH

ONA Church #1224
Frankfort Congregational Church
Frankfort, ME
No Website

ONA Church #1223
West Congregational Church UCC# 304610
155 N. Walker St.
Taunton, MA 02780-2145

ONA Church #1222
Williston-Immanuel United Church UCC/ABC
Portland, ME

ONA Church #1221
Congregational Church of the Valley
Scottsdale, AZ

ONA Church #1220
First Congregational Church UCC
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

ONA Church #1219
Congregational Church of New Haven
New Haven VT

ONA Church #1218
Dummerston Congregational Church UCC
East Dummerston, VT