Welcoming Congregation

    WCSG 5 Unitarian Universalist Society:East is recognized as a Welcoming Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Unitarian Universalism is widely known for its commitment to welcome and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and families.

     Unitarian Universalist Society: East has two groups that are deeply involved with our LGBTQ Welcoming Congregational Culture:

Our Welcoming Congregation Steering Group intially arose from our Social Justice efforts. This is a group of LGBTQ people and their straight and non-gender-variant allies dedicated to efforts to promote welcome and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer and questioning people from all walks of life. We work on the Welcoming Program at UUS:E.

We also have the Rainbow Alliance that is Unitarian Universalist Society: East’s social group for LGBTQ people and their families that periodically gets together for movie nights, potlucks, picnics and other events! For more information on the Rainbow Alliance, click here.

Pride - Rainbow Flag

Rainbow Flag Survey Results:

Back in February, Rev. Josh preached on “allyship”. Here’s some of what he said:

“Ever since I’ve been UUS: E’s minister, the members and friends of this congregation—straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, men, women, transgender, questioning, old, young, rich, middle class, working class, poor, Humanist, Theist, Agnostic, Pagan and Buddhist—have been working as a congregation for the civil rights of gay and lesbian people—primarily through marriage equality—and for the civil rights of transgender people—primarily through anti-discrimination legislation . . . As a congregation, we were following a discipline of allyship. We were saying to GLBT people here and across the state, not only with our words but with our deeds: We will help you; we will stand with you; we will not abandon you; we will not flinch in the face of opposition; you do not have to fight these battles alone; we will risk our own lives and livelihoods on your behalf; there is no ‘us’ and ‘them;’ there is just us. When I see a rainbow flag, I don’t see their flag. I see our flag…

“But let’s imagine UUS:E had sat on the sidelines throughout these struggles and none of us had been involved. And let’s imagine we now want to be more welcoming to GLBT people and we have a Welcoming Congregation Steering Group to help us. And let’s imagine they want to hang a rainbow flag, because even though we have marriage equality, even though we have protections against discrimination for transgender people, even though ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ has ended, even though there has been amazing progress, church is still a dangerous place for GLBT people, even churches that say they’re welcoming. And GLBT young people still face bullying and still have a suicide rate way out of proportion to the population. A large rainbow flag would send a clear, unequivocal message that GLBT people are safe here, able to be out, able to bring their whole selves . . . in my view, this is an ally moment. This is a moment where a group of people who experience unnecessary suffering are saying, ‘We need this. It will alleviate suffering’…

“Agape church equals ally church. It’s not us and them; it’s just us. It’s our flag. It’s our yellow star. It’s just us.”

After that service, many of you filled out cards with your thoughts about what the rainbow flag means to you and whether or not you feel it makes sense to hang such a flag in the UUS:E lobby/clerestory space. The results of this survey were overwhelmingly in favor of hanging such a flag, with some qualifying thoughts and some reservations.

Survey Results

Out of 71 responses, 51were unqualifiedly positive. Four people felt that it was a good idea but that other groups should be represented as well. One of these suggested rotating flags, another would like a flag with other symbols on it. And another would like to see it next to the UUS: E banner. There were three maybes, three no’s, and three quite specific responses. Someone felt that the size in itself was making a political statement that the GLBTQ issue was somehow more important than other issues the congregation is concerned with. And two people did not want it in either the entry or in the clerestory but were fine with having a rainbow flag somewhere else.

In light of this feedback, the Welcoming Congregation Steering Committee (which is now being folded into the Social Justice/Anti-Racism Committee [no idea what we will call it now!]) feels confident that the congregation would be very accepting of a new rainbow flag; and we would like to explore with the UUS:E Policy Board how we can achieve our goal of hanging a very visible symbol that communicates to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people that they are unequivocally welcome and safe at UUS:E. To respond to those who feel the current flag is too large, we are proposing to commission a new, smaller flag which will be made of cotton rather than nylon. We are also exploring what other flags, banners, symbols, etc. would make sense to hang, including the UUS:E General Assembly banner.

For more information on the Rainbow Flag, continue reading….

Recent Events:

Read Rev. Pawelek’s remarks at the 2013 Hartford-Area Transgender Day of Remembrance here.

The UUS:E Welcoming Congregation Steering Group sponsored a reception in honor of National Coming Out Day on Thursday evening, October 10th.  Participants told stories of coming out and reflected on the progress the United States has made in recent years in moving towards full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We also noted that despite progress there is still much work to do both inside the church and in the larger society.

NCOD reception


NCOD  Reception


Welcoming Congregation Steering Group 

Next Meeting: January 14, 7:00 to 9:00 at UUS:E.

ThWCSG 1is energized steering group is working to nurture and guide our cultural commitment to being a Welcoming Congregation. It is an alliance – members from the LGBTQ community  and those who are straight and non-gender-variant allies to that community at UUS:E. We are working together to renew our Welcoming promise. Contact Annie in the main office for more details at 860-646-5151 or uuse153@sbcglobal.net.

WCSG 9IMG_4266


 Welcoming Congregation Program


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Ministries:


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