Welcoming Congregation is a Unitarian Universalist term for UU congregations that have voted to affirm, welcome and support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. This concept came about because people of non-majority sexual identity often feel unsafe in religious organizations, feeling that they must stay “in the closet” or feeling subtly excluded.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton voted to become a Welcoming Congregation on May 31st, 1992. As a continuing effort toward the normalization of homosexuality, the Rainbow Alliance of UUCB initiates outreach, support and education both within the church community, and the larger community. Activities of the Rainbow Alliance have included concerts, workshops, discussions, and worship services.
The Rainbow Alliance (formerly named Gay & Lesbian Concerns Committee) was instrumental in forming the Interfaith Coalition on Sexual Identity in the Triple Cities area. The first interfaith service celebrating Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered lives was held at the UUCB, and has become an annual event. The committee remains very active in the ICSI.
During the 2010/11 UUCB fiscal year, the GLC agreed to change its name to Rainbow Alliance. This name change was accepted by the UUCB Program Council and Board of Trustees, but it needed approval by voting UUCB members as a By-Laws amendment at the 2011 annual meeting, since the GLC has been a UUCB standing committee. This amendment was approved at the annual meeting, and the former GLC is now officially the Rainbow Alliance.
The UUCB has been enriched by its decision to become a Welcoming Congregation; it has enjoyed the presence of people who might not otherwise have joined the congregation, and it has deepened its spirituality by acting out its principal, that UU’s respect the integrity of all people, not only the majority. Persons of non-majority sexual orientation will feel welcome at UUCB, whether or not they choose to reveal their true identity.