Welcoming resources are available from a number of sources, across a range of traditions. Review the list below to identify the organizations and resources that might be most helpful to you.
Welcoming Congregations in the African American Tradition is a resource of the National Black Justice Coalition. This guide includes interviews with eight African American religious leaders – including the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Samuel of Victory for the World Church, Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder of The Fellowship and Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Unity Fellowship – that articulate the how and why of welcoming LGBT persons into communities of faith. Additional resources are available from the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, which was born in the early 1980s as an inclusive faith community for openly gay and lesbian African Americans.
Welcoming and affirming organizations are engaged with a number of Christian denominations in promoting LGBT inclusion in their congregations. Several have developed welcoming processes and resources that can be adapted to congregations in any faith tradition. Some are recognized organizations within their denominations; others are affiliated but not sanctioned organizations. See if your denomination has a welcoming organization that can help your congregation.
American Baptist Churches USA
Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists
Church of the Brethren / Mennonites
Brethren/Mennonite Council for Lesbian & Gay Concerns
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance, Inc. (GLAD)
Episcopal Church USA
Evangelical Christians (nondenominational)
The Evangelical Network
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Lutherans Concerned/North America
Latter Day Saints
Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
Presbyterian Church USA
Covenant Network of Presbyterians
More Light Presbyterians
Seventh Day Adventist
United Church of Christ
UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns
United Methodist Church
Reconciling Ministries Network
The Institute for Welcoming Resources recently published Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit (2009), to help congregations of any denomination welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The toolkit provides instructions on how to develop and undertake a congregational welcoming process. It also prescribes three, 14-step “curricula” depending on whether a congregation intends to take a cautious, moderate or “adventurous” approach to welcoming. (A 25-question self-assessment will point you toward the curriculum that’s right for you.)
The IWR, in partnership with a number of welcoming and affirming organizations, also offers in-depth training to teach religious leaders the organizing skills necessary to become welcoming advocates in their congregations. Details and a calendar of trainings are available at www.WelcomingResources.org/communityorg.htm.
Another resource is Believe Out Loud, a partnership of the country’s leading LGBT advocacy groups, both religious and secular. The Believe Out Loud website, launched in 2010, offers a broad collection of resources promoting both congregational action and "meaningful personal actions" for clergy and laity toward broader LGBT inclusion. Believe Out Loud is a project of Intersections International, a New York-based global initiative dedicated to promoting justice, reconciliation and peace across lines of faith and other cultural boundaries.
An effort is underway to create a “welcoming synagogues” program to promote LGBT inclusion across Jewish denominational movements. Rich online resources are already available from several Jewish organizations:
The Jeff Herman Resource Center is “the largest online gathering of articles, texts, and websites on Judaism and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender topics in the world,” according to the Institute for Judaism & Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College.
Jewish Mosaic, the National Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, maintains a growing collection of LGBT-related essays, sermons and liturgies from throughout the Jewish world in its LGBT Resource Library.
A collection of essays, sermons and liturgies specific to transgender inclusion in Jewish communities is available at TransTorah.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has been on record in support of LGBT rights since 1970, and its Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns began in 1973. The denomination created an official welcoming program in 1989. The UUA recently developed a curriculum, Living the Welcoming Congregation, to help UU congregations "deepen and expand their ‘Welcoming’ status." Interweave Continental is a UUA organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.