I was invited by the UCC Coalition for LGBT concerns to write a brief statement about what being ONA has meant to us as a church. Here is what I submitted:
Cathedral of Hope – Oklahoma City was born out of a group of local LGBT Christians who needed a place to worship and spread the Gospel message of inclusion to others. For ten years we have accomplished that sometimes daring ministry in a very difficult local climate. In the process we have learned that we not only have a message to the wider community that it is “okay to be gay,” but that we also have a ministry to progressive, young, and LGBT persons that it is “okay to be a Christian.”
We have learned that being inclusive and welcoming of all God’s children requires on-going diligence and intention. So, when a deaf visitor attended, we not only provided sign-language translation, but we held a workshop to educate ourselves on some simple signs and how to best communicate with and minister to this visitor. Or when one of our members was diagnosed with a gluten-allergy, to provide gluten-free communion wafers. Or when one of our members was on trial and went to jail, to publicly stand in solidarity during the legal process and then provide for him with visits, money, and care packages throughout his sentence.
To be open and affirming is more than a statement for us, but a vision for how to live our lives in relationship with everyone.