LGBTQ / Open Dialogue

ucc-comma“Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

In 2004, South Church voted to become an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation. This means we have declared that people of all sexual orientations are welcome in the full life of our church and its ministries. Our ONA designation means we openly include the LGBTQ Community (people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer), and we strive to live out this welcome in meaningful ways. South Church is a host home for PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)  and Transgender support groups. South Church’s ONA group, the Committee for Open Dialogue, strives to provide a warm welcome to all God’s children and to continue to grow in understanding of one another. While our main focus is LGBTQ, we believe our mission falls under the larger umbrella of social justice.

This is South Church’s Welcome Statement:

We are a Christ-centered community that celebrates the love of God. Although we are of varied minds, we are one body, bound together in Christ. We recognize the uniqueness of every individual as  God’s  beloved child. We seek to respond faithfully to God’s call for justice for all creation. We strive in word and deed to be faithful to Jesus’ model of loving acceptance. We seek to create a sanctuary where all will know they are welcomed and included. You are welcomed, no matter your age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, race and ethnicity, physical and mental ability or economic circumstance, into the full life and ministry of South Church, including worship, sacraments and rites. Join us as we grow together in God’s love.

LGBTQ Welcoming Communities of Faith

In 2011, the Committee for Open Dialogue began a Merrimack Valley coalition of faith communities that provides a warm welcome to LGBTQ people, promoting equality and inclusiveness within our greater communities. LGBTQ Welcoming Communities of Faith has grown to sixteen member communities who come together to share ideas, support one another and learn how to more fully live out our welcome to all people. The group has presented faith-based workshops and community events; hosted informational booths at local fairs and festivals; provided support and connections to LGBTQ resources.  Please contact for more information and visit them on facebook or at


Merrimack Valley PFLAG is a national support, education and advocacy organization for LGBTQ people, their families, friends and allies. Many families struggle with the news that a loved one has “come out” as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or an array along the gender scale. These terminologies are discussed if the need is requested. Facilitators and others who present at these discussions have dealt with confusion, pain and anxieties within their own families. Group discussion about LGBQ or Transgender has an amazing affect to mend hearts and tear down fences.

Meetings at South Church

* Merrimack Valley-PFLAG Parents of Transgender Children Support Group
Contact Deb at
(Open to parents/caregivers of transgender children of all ages)

Please attend, if only to listen. No judgments are made and no input is required. All content of the meetings is kept in strict confidence.

* Andover/Merrimack Valley-PFLAG
We are no longer meeting, for more information contact the Greater Boston Pflag at


More Info

onaCommittee for Open Dialogue also seeks opportunities to celebrate our welcoming environment. We encourage our congregation to march with us and larger UCC groups in the Boston Pride Parade. We’ve invited outside groups to come and share information, such as the videotaping of Nickelodeon’s Transgender 101 class which was acknowledged at the 2013 Nick Halo Awards. We viewed the documentary No Dumb Questions about a person transitioning from a man to a woman. We held a wonderful party in celebration of the 10th anniversary of our ONA vote and we have created worship services in the same celebratory mood.

For more information contact Renee Manning at

The video below celebrates the Open & Affirming movement in the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ (featuring our Senior Pastor!). More information: Celebrating 30 Years of ONA in Massachusetts.

What the Bible says about Homosexuality
(from a 9/25/11 South Church worship service by former pastor Reverend John Zehring)