In 2002, Pilgrim 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 have a spirit of hospitality for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Community, and we strive to live out this welcome in meaningful ways. Pilgrim is a supporting faith community of OUT MetroWest and the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns.
The following statement is included in Article IV of the Pilgrim Church Bylaws:
“We honor the Biblical call to love one another as God first loved us. We welcome into the full life and ministry of the church all people of any race, nationality, religious background, educational background, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, economic status, and physical, mental, and emotional abilities.
“Therefore, we members of Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, declare ourselves to be a welcoming, open and affirming church, in response to the call of the United Church of Christ on July 2nd, 1985, and in the leading of the Holy Spirit on this day, November 24th, 2002.”
Our Council asked member Taylor B. to share this word at our 2020 Annual Meeting. We want to be clear: this Open and Affirming Congregation welcomes folks who are transgender or identify as gender non-binary. We welcome people of all gender identities and expressions. You are beautiful, you are beloved children of God, and you are welcome at Pilgrim Church!
Here is what Taylor said:
“Some of you may be familiar with the transgender community, and some you may not. The word “transgender” refers to a person whose gender identity does not match the sex that they were assigned at birth. These individuals are born trapped in the wrong body and face discrimination in many areas of life. Gender is a spectrum: At one end there are males, at the other end is females, and there are people in the middle who either don’t feel like a male or a female, or they feel like they include aspects of both males and females.
Pilgrim Church wants everybody to feel accepted for who they are; our mission from the start has been to welcome people of all identities and backgrounds with open arms. We wish to extend these core values further by expressing our support for the trans community. Church Council has put up a transgender flag at the front of the church, we have a gender-neutral, single stall, accessible restroom on the first floor to welcome all, and the option of putting pronouns on church nametags. A person’s pronouns are the pronouns that they would like to be referred to as. For example, my pronouns are she/her because I identify as female. Males go by he/him pronouns, and non-binary people, people who fall in the middle of the gender spectrum, usually like to be referred to with they and them pronouns. Underneath your name tag you will have the option of putting the pronouns that you would like to be referred to as. This is completely optional, yet we invite you to participate as a way to make trans individuals feel supported and comfortable. This step in our church is important because if you are unsure what pronouns someone goes by, seeing their name tag will let you know what their pronouns are without having to ask them or guess.
As many of you know, we had a trans person who used to work on the staff here and we fully supported and embraced who he is. By taking these steps, it would mean a lot to any other trans members of Pilgrim or any future trans members who join us.”