Adopted by the Congregation on May 21, 1995;
Amended by the Congregation on October 19, 2003
Christ Congregational Church is a covenant faith community where all people are recognized as being made in God’s image, reconciled by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people share, with all others, worth that comes from being a unique individual loved by God. We recognize that Christians differ on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, but our understanding of the nature of God requires us to embrace all people. Therefore, Christ Congregational Church intentionally welcomes and affirms gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to journey in faith with us.
We believe that as members of the community of faith we are called to love one another and ourselves as whole persons. We seek to relate to one another with love, trust and in ways that are mutually accountable and nurturing. Our covenant commitment challenges us to welcome all people into the life of our faith community.
We recognize the diversity of families among us and the ways in which God calls us into relationship. We support traditional and extended families, single persons and those who are widowed and divorced. We value all families, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons’ families and seek to nurture and support the commitments they make.
We believe that God creates and celebrates diversity and declare our openness to all who seek Christ’s love in our midst. We openly affirm this belief and commit ourselves to its realization in all aspects of our life together.
The History – a Covenant in the Making
In the spring of 1993 CCC began a defining journey. As the result of a winter Adult Education series on Power Equity the Rev. Joey Noble suggested the formation of an Open and Affirming Task Force to study the possibility of CCC becoming an Open and Affirming church. There were three main reasons behind the formation of the task force. People had contacted the church to find out if they, as gay or lesbians, could worship at CCC without fear of discrimination. Members of CCC who had family members who were gay, lesbian or bisexual wanted to have a place where the whole family could worship together. The General Synod had called for congregations to adopt a non-discrimination policy and to develop a covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation. The ultimate goal of being an Open and Affirming church was to be inclusive and welcoming to all people.
During the next two years, the Task Force led the congregation through an intentional study and reflection of the issues around becoming an O & A church. Information was collected from the national church and local conference. A congregational survey was conducted. A four-part Sunday evening event was sponsored to develop an awareness and understanding of homosexuality, to study the Biblical context for homosexuality, to discuss how an Open and Affirming covenant would affect the life of our community. Small groups also spent time discussing why CCC needed to be an Open and Affirming community. Sermons lead the congregation through prayerful discernment about the importance of being an O & A community. At the end of the Sunday series, the Task Force developed an action plan that included three parts: identifying the essential elements for an open and affirming resolution; outlining the background needed to prepare the congregation for the resolution; preparing an action plan to begin the implementation of our resolution. At the conclusion of this reflective time, a draft of an Open and Affirming statement was prepared to present to the congregation.
On May 21, 1995, a special congregational meeting was held. Many different members contributed to the discussion. The following proclamation was read on behalf of the senior highs who were on retreat that weekend. “We, the undersigned Senior Highs, agree that Christ Congregational Church should become an open and affirming church. We discussed this issue at length in church school and in our homes, and we agree wholeheartedly in mind and spirit to accept and encourage anybody who wants to come to our church.” Other members spoke in favor of the resolution and some spoke against the statement. A secret ballot determined the outcome. The statement passed by a vote of 89 in favor, 24 against and 1 abstention.
Although the Task Force was disbanded after the passing of the resolution, many different steps were implemented in the following years. Teacher training was held for Our Whole Lives and an inclusive curriculum was taught in the 5th through 12th grades. The church library was expanded to include books for children and parents. Small groups were formed. The covenant was expanded to include transgender individuals. CCC and other conference churches sponsored weekend seminars and CCC members helped other local churches in their O & A journeys.
Throughout the years, the congregation has remained prayerfully aware of being a welcoming community to all of God’s children.
In July 2010 the Open and Affirming (LGBT) Work Group recommended to the Executive Council that CCC engage in a church-wide discussion of marriage equality for same-gender couples and proposed a schedule of worship, education, and social witness activities to nurture that discussion, leading up to a congregational vote on a resolution affirming CCC’s commitment to marriage equality. In taking this path, CCC would follow in the steps of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC), which issued a marriage equality statement in 2005.
At its July 12, 2010 meeting, the Executive Council endorsed the Work Group’s proposal. On January 30, 2011, the congregation endorsed a resolution calling for marriage equality in Maryland, and worked actively to make sure it happened.
CCC also worked to support the passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act; a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. While the law is critical and welcome, it’s important to note that transgender Americans, and in particularly trans women of color, face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Trans women of color, for instance, continue to face disproportionate levels of violence.