That rainbow flag we fly in front of our meetinghouse is a welcome sight to many of us in north central New Hampshire. We are a safe and welcome spiritual home to a number of members who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, and we extend this inclusive attitude and welcome to all who cross our threshold. UUFES was recognized officially as a Welcoming Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1999. The Association states the following:
We know that religious spaces haven’t always been welcoming places for all people, especially when it comes to gender and sexuality. We are out to change that.
For 25 years we have worked hard to make sure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are full members of our faith communities. Being welcoming means striving for radical inclusion, and creating spaces that honor every part of our identities, backgrounds, and experiences.
How Do We Practice Welcome? Welcome is a spiritual practice. It takes constant doing and stretching for our welcome to grow. We practice welcome in our congregations by:
Promoting inclusivity and using inclusive language
Creating welcoming spaces, including gender neutral bathrooms
Saying our welcome out loud and in print and online
Building our welcoming skills as congregational leaders and greeters
Deepening our understanding of identities that differ from our own
Offering sexuality education for the entire lifespan
Preventing discrimination in the process of hiring a minister
Engaging in justice ministry in our communities and the wider world
Regularly engaging in Welcoming Congregation programming and ministry.