Openness and Affirmation

This statement on UCC’s Covenant of Openness and Affirmation was written in 1993 and is currently (2023) under revision. You can also read John Garrity’s reflections on the process of becoming an Open and Affirming congregation, the road traveled from that point, and our path forward.

Covenant of Openness & Affirmation
With Respect to Sexual Orientation

University Congregational Church-United Church of Christ
Missoula, MT
April 25, 1993

We, the members of University Congregational United Church of Christ, are a diverse group of people. We are persons of varying ages, economic backgrounds, education, abilities, sexual orientations, and theological and political beliefs. As a church community, we strive to celebrate and find strength in that diversity and view it as a way to understand the inclusiveness of God.

We believe that, although we are many members, we are one body in Christ (Romans 12:4). As a part of that body of Christ, we are called to do justice, to bring release to the oppressed, and to walk humbly with our God. Responding to that call, a goal of our ministry is to heal the brokenness we experience in ourselves and in our relationships with each other and with God.

In our faith journey together, we, the members of University Congregational United Church of Christ, discern there are times when we must make declaration and confession as we seek to deepen our covenant together. Therefore, as a community of committed Christian people, we seek to end the continuing injustice of institutional discrimination, instances of violence, and setbacks in civil rights protection of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. We seek to work together in the light of the Gospel to define principles of human relationships and behavior that are based on nurturing each other as whole persons with love, responsibility, accountability and trust.

We confess, as we make our declaration, that individually we differ in our understanding of this issue. We pray that in our diversity, we will continue to respect those with differing views even as we join together in our overall purpose of following Jesus Christ.

As a congregation and as individuals, we lift up the following as evidence for our openness and affirmation:

  1. We celebrate the image of God in every person, we celebrate the sacred value in every life, and we affirm all relationships of support that are founded on the principles of love and justice.
  2. We affirm that lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons are welcome into the full life and ministry of the church upon making the same affirmation of faith that all other members make. Recognizing that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their parents and other family members are already loyal and active members of University Congregational United Church of Christ, we encourage them to share their talents, gifts, and energy in the liturgy, life, employment, and leadership of the congregation.
  3. We pledge ourselves to support and honor committed partnerships of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, recognizing the difficulty of maintaining such partnerships in the absence of the social validation, role models, and legal frameworks that support heterosexual unions. We affirm the minster’s right to choose whether or not to consecrate all committed relationships within our congregation, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual.
  4. We condemn all acts of discrimination and violence (physical, emotional, economic, or legal) against persons because of their sexual orientation, just as we condemn such acts against people because of race, age, gender, religion, ethnic background, or physical/mental disabilities or limitations. We pledge to support advocacy efforts designed to assure that homosexual persons enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexual persons.

Therefore, we, the University Congregational UCC, declare ourselves to be an Open & Affirming Church with respect to sexual orientation, race, age, gender, religion, ethnic background or physical/mental disabilities or limitations.