• Open and Affirming Exploratory Study Group News

    A message from the Open and Affirming Exploratory Study Group

    Why is there an “N” in ONA? It’s kind of a funny acronym.

    “ONA” stands for Open and Affirming. The “N” is a short way of saying “and.” The United Church of Christ started its Open and Affirming program in 1987. You can find out more about the UCC’s ONA movement at https://openandaffirming.org.

    “Open” means everyone is welcome. For the ONA movement, that means that there must be a place at Christ’s table and in the life of the church for persons of all gender expressions and sexual orientations. Often, open is the easier part. It’s easy to say hello and sit next to you, harder to really get to know you. Friedens Church has said “You are welcome!” for many years.

    “Affirming” means that you are a real and valid person no matter who you are or how you express yourself. It doesn’t mean we always agree, or even like everything. It does mean that we will always affirm you as a person, a child of God, made in God’s image. Affirmation is harder, saying it’s okay with me that you are you.

    We belong to a denomination that extravagantly welcomes people from every race, nationality, ethnicity, economic level, and sexual orientation. This extravagant welcome is practiced in different ways and to different degrees in local congregations. Here at Friedens Church we’re beginning our study and conversation on what we mean when we say “You are welcome here.” We are exploring who and how we welcome now, how that welcome should be expressed in the future, and what we can affirm. We want to engage in this conversation gracefully, empowered by God’s grace and led by the Holy Spirit.

    Our goal is always graceful engagement. Graceful engagement is a commitment to listen and honor another person’s faith convictions. When we disagree with one another, graceful engagement invites us into further conversation. We don’t want to argue or debate, knowing how that damages the body of Christ. Instead, we would rather honor where each of us are and invite each other into deeper conversation one step at a time.

    So, please talk to us.

    Steve Mojonnier, Kalen Granger, Keith Phillips, Eric McCormick, Lindsey Spurgeon, Jean Gantt, Linda Ealy, Becky Kaiser,
    Heidi Richmond, Mark Grondin