Northwoods as a Welcoming Congregation

What Does it Mean to be Welcoming?

Within the UUA, the term “Welcoming Congregation” has referred specifically to congregations that are fully accepting of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT). The term is known by other faiths as “Open and Affirming,” “Welcoming and Affirming,” “More Light,” and “Reconciling.” Our UU faith calls us to live in a spirit of “radical hospitality,” affirming our first principle – the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Northwoods has been an official Welcoming Congregation since May, 2003.

The focus of Welcoming Congregation work has traditionally been with LGBTQ+ issues. But the UUA has also been open to broader interpretations of welcome, calling on us to become aware of other oppressions: Ageism, classism, ableism, and right now in particular racism. Improving our welcome in any of these areas helps us be more welcoming in all of them, precisely by focusing on unique oppressions in each area.

The Welcoming Committee sees our work in Welcome in three areas:

  • Showing Up: If we are visibly present at events focused on justice for oppressed people, it can be easier for them to imagine being with us in our space to worship together. The Welcoming Congregation Committee is part of the Social, Environmental and Economic Justice ministry.
  • Speaking Up: When we host our own events supporting justice, and preach the message in our programming, those yearning for justice are more likely to find our church to be a place where they can learn new ways of being together, and work with others to promote change. We work with the Spiritual Life ministry to promote programming that addresses justice for all through justice in particular.
  • Living Up: When we do the work of exploring how we uphold current injustice, and how we can subvert that behavior, those who suffer oppression are less likely to experience it by our own hands, in our space. Oppressed people drawn to our mission feel more comfortable in our presence.

Imagining how this will work in the coming year, in our virtual space, is a particular challenge. If you are interested in working with us to take on that challenge, please contact Jerry Hensel (