We officially became Open and Affirming (ONA) church in 2012. ONA is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. ONA articulates the wideness of our churches welcome and fosters a culture for us to live into that in its fullness. The bylaws of the church read:
Inspired by God’s abundant love and guided by our constitution and tradition, we of Decorah Congregational UCC are an open and affirming congregation. With God’s grace we welcome all persons, affirming differences of faith background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, age, and mental and physical abilities, as well as racial, ethnic, economic, and social status. We welcome all to share in the life and leadership, ministry and worship, sacraments, responsibilities, and blessing of participation in our congregation.
We really mean everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome
Too many LGBTQ people and their families live with the pain of having believed that “everyone” meant them, only to discover otherwise. No one should have to guess about the “boundaries of inclusion” of a congregation or other ministry. We begin each service of worship with an explicit greeting and welcome, “In the name of Jesus who welcomed children and adults, the popular and the overlooked, the homeless and the privileged, you are welcome to the worship and fellowship of Congregational UCC. Whether you are young or old, or in between, whatever your history or background, whether your faith is an old friend or you are filled with doubts and questions or both, whatever your gender or sexual orientation, whatever the shape and size of your family, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! As beloved people of God, we gather for worship and to share in life together. Welcome to this place.”