Interweave fights to end oppression

One way for congregations to support LGBT friends and members is by joining, or encouraging individuals to join, Interweave Continental, the national Unitarian Universalist organization that works to end oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Interweave publishes a monthly newsletter, Interweave Connect; presents workshops at General Assembly, district events, and at its own annual gathering, Convo; and develops LGBT religious education curricula. The March issue of Interweave Connect focused on preventing bullying. The April edition is on transgender issues. The full newsletter is available only to members.

There is information on the Interweave website about how to join, how to start a local chapter, and how to participate in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Welcoming Congregation program. Individual memberships are $20 to $50. A chapter membership is $100.

LGBT Ministries office ready to help

The UUA office formerly known as the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns has a new name and new staff members.

The office is now known as LGBT Ministries and is part of the UUA’s Multicultural Growth & Witness staff group. Delfin Bautista is LGBT Ministries program coordinator and Alex Kapitan is Congregational Justice administrator within that office.

Kapitan and Bautista noted that when the office last changed its name in 1996 (for the fifth time since its founding in 1973) there was no consensus in the larger world about the order of those identity labels. But now there is. “In recent years LGBT has become the dominant acronym, and so we have decided that the UUA should follow suit and speak the language that the most people will be able to identify with,” they reported.

Bautista said, “We welcome questions about the Welcoming Congregation and Living the Welcoming Congregation programs, including ways congregations can expand these efforts beyond the congregation and into the larger community.”

The office can also respond to questions about how to provide education around LGBT issues and how to engage communities of color and people of all ages with these issues—one topic of focus in particular for the office is ministering to LGBT youth. The office can also help with creating worship services and with ways to be involved with legislative efforts around issues such as marriage equality, transgender civil rights, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Bautista and Kapitan can also offer help in creating lectures, workshops, and other presentations.

The Rev. Keith Kron, former director of the OBGLTC, is now transitions director in the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group.

Email LGBT Ministries or contact staff members directly at dbautista@uua.org (202-393-2255 x15) or akapitan@uua.org (617-948-6461.

Congregations do transgender outreach

Eleven UU congregations from the District of Columbia to northern New Jersey reached out to the transgender community in early June with a presence at the Mazzoni Center’s Trans-Health Conference in Philadelphia. The congregations placed a two-page ad in the event program and staffed an information table. They also contributed $500 to the Mazzoni Center, which provides a range of services for the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender community.

Ken Goldberg, chair of the social justice committee at the UU Church in Cherry Hill, N.J., said, “we shared our compelling message—you are welcomed to our churches, at all levels of congregational life; please share your personal journey with our loving, spiritual communities; ours is a place where you can be your real self.”

He said five people who attended the event came to services the following Sunday at First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, the closest congregation to the event.

He also noted Unitarian Universalism was the only faith group represented at this event. “We became more aware of transgender issues, trans folks became more aware of us, and we developed contacts with other groups supporting this community,” he said. For information in organizing similar events email Goldberg.