Starting in April, the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge (UUBRidge) will sponsor a new social group for women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI).
UUBRidge has recently been certified as a “Welcoming Congregation” by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). In the 1980s and ’90s, the word “welcoming” became a code word for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. At that time, UUA instituted a Welcoming Congregation Program “to help congregations learn how to undo homophobia — and later, transphobia (prejudice against transgender people) — in their hearts and minds, their congregations and their communities,” according to UUA program material.
Over the past two years, to attain the designation of “Welcoming Congregation,” UUBRidge conducted an informal assessment of community resources for LGBTQI persons and a self-study of what the congregation needs to do to be more welcoming to this community. The assessments resulted in a series of workshops, sermons, public outreach and revisions to bylaws and Sunday services to ensure that they are inclusive.
One gap that was identified in the community was the lack of connection among LBTQI women in Rappahannock and surrounding counties. To help fill this gap, UUBRidge is working with community members to organize and sponsor an LBTQI social group. If such groups already exist in the county, the congregation is eager to know about them. Women who would like to share or receive information about the upcoming group can email UUBRidge at firstname.lastname@example.org.