Our Mission statement describes us as a welcoming congregation. Being welcoming means striving for radical inclusion, and creating spaces that honor every part of our identities, backgrounds, and experiences. The spiritual practice of welcome is a very important one to our faith community.
In the 1980s and 90s, when the word “welcoming” became a code word for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, the Unitarian Universalist Association launched a Welcoming Congregation Program to help us learn how to undo homophobia-and later, transphobia (prejudice against transgender people)-in our hearts and minds, our congregations, and our communities.
Starr King UU Church in Hayward made history when in 1980, the congregation called Rev. Mark Belletini, one of the first publicly out gay UU Ministers. I am grateful for our liberal Unitarian Universalist faith which welcomed me into Ministry as a Queer/Two Spirit woman. I am also grateful that this congregation embraces all of who I am.
In 2019 the UUA will be launching a new Welcoming Congregations renewal program called The Five Pillars of Welcome Renewal. The goal of the program is to encourage congregations to practice Welcome every year, year-round.
- Become a Welcoming Congregation (We already are!).
- Welcoming Worship Services: Incorporating Welcoming Worship Services into our ordinary calendar of worship every year. These services might occur during LGBTQ+ Pride Month or any other day of observance. We are currently collaborating with Hayward PFLAG to create a “Celebrate Pride” service this Spring. We will also commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance this November with a candlelight evening service.
- The third Pillar of Welcome Renewal is an annual recognition and celebration of the Welcoming Days of Observance. These days and seasons are important to LGBTQ and Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming/ Queer Non-Binary communities because they bring visibility and affirmation after generations of invisibility and erasure. These days remind all that “All of who you are is sacred. All of who you are is welcome.”
- The fourth Pillar of Welcome Renewal is an annual opportunity for our congregation to experience a Welcoming Congregation Module. Each year the UUA LGBTQ program office will offer at least one Welcoming Webinar engaging LGBTQ+/TGQNB issues and topics.
- The fifth Pillar of Welcome Renewal is Support a Welcoming Project. Welcoming Congregations are encouraged to give generously to a local/national LGBTQ2+/TGQNB organization. (We currently support the Hayward Gay Prom and PFLAG).
The work of welcome is never done. We are proud to be a Welcoming Congregation and to continue learning more about how to be truly welcoming to all people by renewing our commitment. We invite you to participate in our Transgender Day of Remembrance Service on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 and the Pride Celebration service in the Spring of 2019, both events in collaboration with Hayward PFLAG.
With Much Love,
Rev. Maria Cristina