The "formal" Open and Affirming (ONA) process at First Church began in early 2017 as an "ONA Core Team" formed by the Diaconate in response to an earlier congregational survey. The team used a Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit and other resources to prepare for the discernment process.
In March, the Church Board voted to expand the core team into an "official" sub-committee of the Board. This Open and Affirming Sub-Committee was commissioned to facilitate the discernment process whereby the Congregation would decide whether First Church should covenant to become an officially Open and Affirming congregation in the United Church of Christ.
The ONA Sub-Committee held a number of discernment workshops and one-on-one sharing sessions, as well as a transgender remembrance service and reported to the Church Board on a regular basis.
In January and February, Rev. Adam facilitated a moving six-part bible study "How Far Does God's Love Go?" which was attended by 36 members of the congregation. Total bible study attendance across six sessions was 125.
At the February Church Board meeting the ONA Sub-Committee reported that over 90 people had participated in the discernment process thus far and that their reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Total attendance across all ONA sessions was 208. The Sub-Committee also informed the Board they would soon begin crafting an Open and Affirming Covenant using responses from the bible study and other ONA sessions.
In April a "covenant team" was formed, made up of six members of the ONA Sub-Committee working together with the Church Board's two Members at Large. They had a total five crafting sessions while gathering confidential feedback from a number of other members of the congregation. The resulting ONA Covenant was sent to the Church Board.
On April 25, the Church Board voted unanimously to endorse the Open and Affirming Covenant. They also voted to call a Special Meeting of the Congregation on Pentecost, June 9, for the purpose of voting on whether to adopt the Covenant and become an official Open and Affirming Congregation in the United Church of Christ.
In May and June the ONA Sub-Committee held three additional Sharing Sessions, so that members of the congregation could ask questions about the Covenant and continue to share their joys and concerns about the possibility of becoming an official Open and Affirming Congregation.
On June 9, 2019 the Congregation held a Special Meeting following its Pentecost worship service where they overwhelmingly adopted the Open and Affirming Covenant as presented by the Church Board. The vote was 84 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention.
First United Church of Christ
34 West Main Street
Milford, CT 06460
All are welcome at First Church! As an inclusive community of God's children, we affirm the radical welcome and hospitality of the United Church of Christ; No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here!
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