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Grace United Church of Christ, Houston Texas

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'Into the Mystic' is the Rev. John C. Dorhauer's weekly podcast on UCC.org. The United Church of Christ General Minister and President is creating these weekly messages so that "the art and practice of spiritual reflection is modeled as a priority and not just a part time avocation."

From the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns and the Open and Affirming (ONA) movement

Dear friends at Grace UCC!

Today we celebrated your Open and Affirming covenant on the Coalition’s Facebook and Twitter pages (http://facebook.com/ucc.coalition http://twitter.com/ucccoalition).

We want to thank you for your witness in your own congregation and to the many in your community who are looking for a place they can call home. We just wanted you to know that there’s a wider community of ONA churches (you’re number 934!) who are with you in spirit.

We hope you’ll subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter—RIPPLES—which is one way you can stay in touch with other ONA churches as we continue this journey together. The subscription link is on our home page at http://ucccoalition.org.

Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Andy Lang Executive Director UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns

World AIDS Day - December 1

The UCC Still Speaking Devotional for December  - Here's Why We Hope Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

 
2 Samuel 7: 21 "Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness. . ."
 
Sometimes, you're hopeful because it's all you have left. Your options are exhausted, and all you can do is bow your head, cross your fingers, and hope. That ain't Advent.
 
Advent is hoping for a reason, and with a purpose. The reason: God has already wrought all this greatness. The purpose: So that you can get in on the action.
 
Here's why we hope: 2000 years ago, God entered the world and took on full humanity so that none of us would ever have to lose ours.
 
Here's why we hope: 54 years ago today, God entered the world in Rosa Parks, refused to move from her seat, and sparked a movement that continues to help people claim the fullness of their humanity to this day.
 
Here's why we hope: today is World AIDS Day. Today, God is entering the world in thousands upon thousands of healthcare professionals and activists and clergy and financial donors and educators and YOU, so that men in America's urban gay ghettos and women in Africa and children born to infected parents and everybody in between who lives with HIV or AIDS might live their full humanity, too. Learn more and get in on the action at www.worldaidscampaign.orghttp://act.ucc.org/site/R?i=OhowA-_5rcLpXnJRO703_g
 
Sometimes, you hope because it's all you have left. In Advent, you hope because God has already wrought all this greatness, and because you know God well enough to expect more.
 
Prayer: God, grant me the gift of hope in your future, and grant that I might be in on the action of building it. Amen.
 
About the Author Quinn G. Caldwell is Associate Minister of Old South Church in Boston,
Massachusetts, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ.

    

Grace UCC voted at our Annual Meeting on January 30, 2011, (only one abstaining vote and one negative vote) to adopt for our church the General Synod XV resolution.  On March 27, 2011, the congregation voted unanimously to add the term transgendered in the final ONA resolution.

Resolution calling Grace United Church of Christ to covenant to become an Open and Affirming Congregation:

United Church of Christ General Synod Resolution, 1985
Calling on United
Church of Christ
Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming

Adopted by General Synod XV, UCC, Ames, Iowa, July 2, 1985

Whereas, the Apostle Paul said that, as Christians, we are many members, but we are one body in Christ (Rom. 12:4), and Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. 12:31) without being judgmental (Mt. 7:1-2) nor disparaging of others (Lk. 18:9-14); and

Whereas, recognizing that many persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation are already members of the church through baptism and confirmation and that these people have talents and gifts to offer the United Church of Christ, and that the UCC has historically affirmed a rich diversity in its theological and biblical perspectives; and

Whereas, the Tenth through Fourteenth General Synods have adopted resolutions encouraging the inclusion, and affirming the human rights, of lesbian, gay and bisexual people within the UCC; and

Whereas, the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ adopted in 1980 "a program of Equal Employment Opportunity which does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of...sexual orientation"; and

Whereas, many parts of the church have remained conspicuously silent despite the continuing injustice of institutionalized discrimination, instances of senseless violence and setbacks in civil rights protection by the Supreme Court; and

Whereas, the church has often perpetuated discriminatory practices and has been unwilling to affirm the full humanness of clergy, laity and staff with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation, who experience isolation, ostracism and fear of (or actual) loss of employment; and

Whereas, we are called by Christ's example, to proclaim release to the captives and set at liberty the oppressed (Lk. 4:18); and

Whereas, examples of covenant of Openness and Affirmation and Non-discrimination Policy may be found in the following:

Example 1:
COVENANT OF OPENNESS AND AFFIRMATION
We know, with Paul, that as Christians, we are many members, but are one body in Christ-members of one another, and that we all have different gifts. With Jesus, we affirm that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, that we are called to act as agents of reconciliation and wholeness within the world and within the church itself.

We know that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are often scorned by the church, and devalued and discriminated against both in the church and in society. We commit ourselves to caring and concern for lesbian, gay and bisexual sisters and brothers by affirming that:

·         we believe that lesbian, gay and bisexual people share with all others the worth that comes from being unique individuals;

·         we welcome gay, lesbian and bisexual people to join our congregation in the same spirit and manner used in the acceptance of any new members;

·         we recognize the presence of ignorance, fear and hatred in the church and in our culture, and covenant to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, nor any other irrelevant factor, and we seek to include and support those who, because of this fear and prejudice, find themselves in exile from a spiritual community;

·         we seek to address the needs and advocate the concerns of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in our church and in society by actively encouraging church instrumentalities and secular governmental bodies to adopt and implement policies of non-discrimination; and

·         we join together as a covenantal community, to celebrate and share our common communion and the reassurance that we are indeed created by God, reconciled by Christ and empowered by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Example #2:
INCLUSIVE NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
We do not discriminate against any person, group or organization in hiring, promotion, membership, appointment, use of facility, provision of services or funding on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, faith, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, or physical disability.

THEREFORE, the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith.

Therefore Grace United Church of Christ of Houston, Texas, proclaims our congregation to be an Open and Affirming church. We acknowledge God’s acceptance of every individual and Jesus’ commandment to love one another. We welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals to worship and enter into the full life and ministry of this church. We renew and strengthen our commitment to advocate justice and equality for all people in all areas of society and to resist intolerance in our midst.

    Soaring With The Spirit

    Grace

    UNITED CHURCH O F   C H R I S T
    8515 Brookwulf Drive
    Houston, Texas 77072
    PH: 281-575-7866

    Worship 10:00 AM Sunday School for all ages 11:30 AM