Used with permission from UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns

November 11, 2007 Open Forum

ONA Feedback

On Sunday, November 11, the ONA Committee held an Open Forum following worship.  The primary objective for the forum was to solicit input from the congregation for the Committee to use in its program planning.

The meeting was facilitated by Gail Hall, ONA Committee Chair.  Most of the Committee was also present, with many committee members participating in the information gathering process.

In order to provide input to the Committee, the forum attendees were asked to consider two questions:

  • What information do you need to make an informed decision on ONA?
  • What Are Some Ways That You Would Participate in this Process?

Meeting participants provided very valuable input to the committee’s planning process.  Here are the responses that were submitted at the meeting:

What information do you need?

  1. What does the Bible say?
  2. How many other churches are doing or have done this?
  3. Can we hear directly from other churches who have done this?  How has it impacted them?  For those who have taken up the issue and decided not to adopt Open and Affirming, how has this impacted them?
  4. What is the definition of “Open and Affirming”(ONA)?  Is it just one issue?
  5. Is there a single definition of ONA or can we tailor it?
  6. Why do we have to address this issue at all?
  7. If we are not Open and Affirming, what are we?
  8. What is the rationale for adopting ONA and how do opponents respond to this?  What is the rationale for not adopting ONA and how do opponents respond to this?
  9. Does ONA include other groups traditionally discriminated against? (e.g. different cultures, races, and religious beliefs)
  10. What is it like to grow up feeling discriminated against?  Can we hear some personal witness?
  11. What do people fear about this process?
  12. How will the outcome of this process change our worship life?

What Are Some Ways That You Would Participate in this Process?

1)      Watch a video

2)      Listen to an outside speaker (2) (e.g. Dick Allen)

3)      Small group discussion

4)      Enhanced website with discussion forum

5)      Attend Laity Sunday put on by ONA Committee

6)      Visit other churches who are and are not ONA.

7)      Large group discussions

8)      Panel discussion of folks with different views

9)      Read reference material (books, articles, videos)

10)  Borrow material from a lending library

11)  Contribute materials to a lending library

12)  Hear a role-play of issues

13)  Read handouts/summaries of group meetings

14)  Friendly debate

15)  Youth?

16)  Read mailings

Request and challenge to committee:  how to encourage all to participate and be educated.

The committee introduced its suggestion boxes at the forum; the boxes were then placed in the Narthex and in the hallway outside the office.  Many suggestions have been received since the Open Forum, and all of this feedback has led to the four program themes that will be developed by the committee:

  • What is ONA?
  • What does the Bible have to say about this issue?
  • What is it like to be the subject of discrimination?
  • What would our ONA decision mean to me and life at my church?