We were active in the Vote No campaign to defeat the anti-marriage amendment in 2012 in Minnesota. We celebrated the passing of the marriage equality bill in 2013. The United Church of Christ, a leader in LGBT rights, had its first openly gay minister in 1972.
The 2017 Minnesota Celebration
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (UCC) will offer workshops and celebrate in worship with the Open and Affirming ministry settings from across Minnesota. The 2017 Minnesota Celebration, “Open and Affirming as Beloved Community,” will be held at Hazel Park Congregational UCC, 1831 Minnehaha Avenue East in Saint Paul. The day will include workshops at 11:00 AM, a time of kinship over lunch, and worship at 1:30 PM.
There will be three workshop options to choose from. “All in the Family” will include stories from panelist who are either LGBT parents or the parent of LGBT children. “Getting the Word Out”” will be a workshop on “ONA Identity and Evangelism,” how to get your message of welcome and inclusion out to the LGBT community. “Safe Space for Youth” will be a place for youth (18 and under) to share honestly about what is like to be LGBT or an ally.
In worship we will acknowledge the various “Open and Affirming” ministry settings in Minnesota. The preachers will be the Rev. John Fiscus, pastor of Peace UCC in St. Cloud, and the Rev. Leslie Moughty. pastor of First Congregational UCC in Brainerd. Both of these pastors serve Open and Affirming congregations in greater Minnesota and bring a unique understanding of “beloved community.”
The “Open and Affirming” program within the UCC comes from a 1985 General Synod Resolution calling on all settings of the church to adopt statements of “openness” and “affirmation” towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people. A later General Synod in 2003 also called upon the church to acknowledge and celebrate the gifts transgender individuals bring to the church.
Hazel Park Congregational UCC is located in east St. Paul at the intersection of Van Dyke Street and Minnehaha Avenue. The church building is fully accessible with off-street parking. Lunch will be provided free of charge and RSVPs are appreciated to help with meal planning. Child Care will be provided at no cost during workshops and worship with advanced notice. This event is sponsored by the Open and Affirming Ministry Team of the Minnesota Conference UCC. Any questions and RSVP can be sent via email to Marc Blakesley at email@example.com.
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God.” [1 John 4:7] The scriptures of our faith call us to be loving. We grow in and sustain our love for God and one another by gathering in sacred community. With a call from God and with the human need to be together, we gather to form the “beloved community” that is church.
Success Story: UCC in Minnesota Makes History as it Helps Defeat the Marriage Amendment
When the Minnesota legislature voted to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot for November 2012, the UCC quickly got involved. Minnesotans United for All Families, an advocacy group dedicated to defeating the amendment, was born and the Conference Board set up a “Vote NO Fund” to collect donations for the organization.
In June 2012, Rev. Oby Ballinger from Community UCC in St. Paul Park began working as a part-time UCC organizer at Minnesotans United. He and eight other faith community organizers led over 70 conversation trainings throughout the state, equipping people of all denominations to have conversations about why they opposed the amendment as people of faith. They held three “clergy calling clergy” phone banks and assembled 100 clergy for trainings across the state.
UCC members also worked together to coordinate their congregational efforts. They hosted campaign events, offered space for phone banks, joined as coalition partners in the campaign, raised money, and held worship services for prayer and support. Individual churches showed faithful opposition to the amendment through Pride activities, hosting art exhibits, putting up banners, flying rainbow flags, and even organizing a flash mob.
At its Annual Meeting the Conference announced it would receive contributions to the “Vote NO Fund” to support the organizing work of Rev. Ballinger. Two weeks before the election, the Conference donated $5,000 from a fund designated for telling the story of the UCC through media. This financial commitment echoed the contributions of time and talent given by UCC members and congregations throughout the campaign. We shared the UCC’s longstanding tradition of faithful support for LGBT people. We put faith into action and made a visible witness for God’s love by advocating for equal treatment. As a result, the marriage amendment was defeated on November 6, 2012 – the first time any such amendment has been defeated at the ballot box. Together, we made history.
Open and Affirming Churches in Minnesota
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Anoka
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Austin
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Brainerd
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Delano
Congregational Church of Detroit Lakes, United Church of Christ, Detroit Lakes
Peace United Church of Christ, Duluth
Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Duluth
Edina Morningside Community Church, United Church of Christ, Edina
Union Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Elk River
Falcon Heights United Church of Christ, Falcon Heights
Congregational Church of Faribault, United Church of Christ, Faribault
First Congregational UCC, Grand Marais
Union Congregational UCC, Hackensack
Mizpah United Church of Christ, Hopkins
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Mankato
First Congregational Church of Minnesota, United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Linden Hills Congregational United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Living Table United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Lynnhurst Congregational United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Mayflower Community Congregational United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis
Parkway United Church of Christ, Minneapolis
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Montevideo
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Moorhead
United Church of Christ in New Brighton, New Brighton
First United Church of Christ, Northfield
Robbinsdale United Church of Christ, Robbinsdale
The Congregational United Church of Christ, Rochester
Peace United Church of Christ, Rochester
Peace United Church of Christ, St. Cloud
Union Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Louis Park
Cherokee Park United Church, St. Paul
Hazel Park Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Paul
Macalester Plymouth United Church, St. Paul
Olivet Congregational UCC, St. Paul
St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, St. Paul
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, St. Paul
Community United Church of Christ, St. Paul Park
New Spirit United Church of Christ, Savage
Clark Memorial United Church of Christ, South, St. Paul
Grace Community United Church of Christ, South St. Paul
St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, Stillwater
First Congregational Church of Winona, UCC, Winona
Parkview United Church of Christ, White Bear Lake
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Zumbrota