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What is “Open and Affirming”

Open and Affirming in the United Church of Christ

Open and Affirming (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. The designation “Open and Affirming” is conferred on churches by the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ. Over 1500 United Church of Christ Congregations are designated as “Open and Affirming”. Each individual congregation chooses how they will live into this inclusive identity. Columbia UCC is Open and Affirming Church #1575 in the United Church of Christ.

Why is this necessary?

‘All Are Welcome’ isn’t enough

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of faith often experience emotional and spiritual injury in churches that condemn their capacity to love and seek love. Because they’ve learned that “All Are Welcome” usually doesn’t apply to them, they can’t assume that any church will be safe for them and their families.

A public welcome by an Open and Affirming (ONA) church sends a clear message to LGBT seekers that they have a home in the United Church of Christ.

A congregation’s affirmation and support through an ONA covenant can be a life-changing and life-saving experience—especially for LGBT youth.

A public welcome to LGBT seekers helps churches grow. When new ONA churches attract new members, many of them are young straight couples starting new families: they identify with the values ONA represents, and want their children to learn the faith in a welcoming church.

By adopting an ONA covenant, a congregation is taking seriously St. Paul’s admonition to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7, NIV)


The Open and Affirming/Inclusion Initiative at Columbia United Church of Christ is about being intentionally inclusive of ALL people who have been hurt or disenfranchised by churches or other cultural influences. This expression of Inclusion extends beyond those who identify with historically underrepresented' or oppressed sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions or fluid expressions of gender. Our Open and Affirming/Inclusion Covenant also encompasses fluid expressions of faith, and considers race, culture, ethnicity, nationality, politics, age, ability, health, relationship status, family structure, social economic, educational, legal or other life circumstances in our commitment to welcome and affirm all of God’s Children. God Created You in God’s Image; and we welcome you just the way God Created You!

Columbia United Church of Christ’s Open and Affirming Covenant

CUCC Open and Affirming/Inclusion Covenant:

Columbia United Church of Christ celebrates God’s boundless and unconditional love by intentionally welcoming and affirming all God’s children.

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey;

No matter where you are on your faith journey;

No matter your sexual orientation, gender expression or identity;

No matter your race, culture, ethnicity, nationality or politics;

No matter your age, ability, health, relationship status or family structure;

No matter your social, economic, educational, legal or life circumstances;

You are welcome here!

 Called by Jesus to be an Open and Affirming, inclusive faith community, Columbia United Church of Christ commits to welcoming everyone into the full life of our congregation.  Our paths and voices may differ, but we journey in faith together.