Welcoming Congregation

First UU Principle:  We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In the summer of 2008 we decided to embark on the journey of becoming a Welcoming Congregation.  Using a curriculum provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) as a starting point, we explored our personal attitudes and observed our congregational habits, with the goal of ensuring that the fellowship will be a welcoming home for all individuals, regardless of our sexual and affectional orientation or our gender identification or expression.

We have found this process to be a lively and thought-provoking experience. Our Welcoming Congregation Committee meets regularly for conversation and planning. The committee has sponsored a series of film nights, panels on sexual orientation and on transgender issues, and other programs for Sunday morning services. We have provided after-service workshops on LGBT issues and on bullying.

Having received our official Welcoming Congregation status from the Unitarian Universalist Association in the summer of 2011, we are committed to continuing our work, expanding our understanding of gender and sexuality and reaching out beyond our doors.

We are also active in efforts to gain equal rights for all people, with a focus on members of the LGBT community who do not yet fully enjoy the rights of heterosexuals under the law. We are committed to marriage equality and to the passage of ENDA, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

If you would like to join us in our efforts to become a truly welcoming congregation, please let us know. We welcome anyone who shares our goal.

 We invite you to come stand on the side of love with us!

 

 

 

Employment Discrimination

On January 10, 2010, David Turley of the Human Rights Campaign visited Skylands as the guest speaker for our Sunday service. We learned about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and then wrote letters in support of this federal legislation designed to eliminate workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 

We will be continuing to support this legislation as it makes its way through Congress.

Marriage Equality

From the summer of 2009 through early January 2010, we focused our legislative efforts on marriage equality in New Jersey, working with our own UU Legislative Ministry of New Jersey and the organization Garden State Equality. We sponsored a speaker, wrote letters and made phone calls, and hosted a "marriage equality action party." Several committee members and friends attended lobby days at the State House in Trenton.

 

On January 7, the NJ Senate voted 14 to 20 against the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act Marriage equality efforts in our state will now focus on a judicial remedy, with the help of Lambda Legal.

WC Film Discussion Series

The Welcoming Congregation Committee periodically hosts discussions on LGBTQQI themes, using films to share insights into the lives of others and to begin conversations we might not otherwise have.

 

Mindful of the need to respect copyright restrictions, we have obtained a license which allows us to share films as a gateway to discussion and education. We may show the films at the Fellowship, but we may not advertise them by name ahead of time! We do include these sessions on the web calendar--just look for the film/discussion nights--and we try to provide enough details to allow you to make a decision about attending. If you would like more information about a particular night, please use the "contact us" tab to make your inquiry.

 

Films we have enjoyed and discussed:

 

January 2009   A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story

Originally shown on the Lifetime channel, this movie tells the story of Gwen Araujo, born Eddie, who feels trapped inside the wrong body and tries to find a way to be herself in a society which, ironically, finds her threatening.

 

March 2009   For the Bible Tells Me So

This is the Human Rights Campaign's award-winning documentary which argues that the religious bias against homosexuals is based on misinterpretations of the Bible. Through the experiences of five families--including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gaphardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson--we discover how people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child or family member.

 

January 2010   The Celluloid Closet

from the Sony Pictures website:

"The Celluloid Closet is the film version of author Vito Russo's landmark book by the same name. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who have previously won an Academy Award for Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt, bring this book to life. The Celluloid Closet explodes sexual myths and explores how our attitudes about homosexuality and sex roles have evolved through the century. With clips from over 100 Hollywood movies and interviews with many of the filmmakers and actors who created them (including Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Curtis, and Gore Vidal), The Celluloid Closet is an epic story -- by turns surprising, hilarious, and disturbing."

 

February 2010  The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

It's 1994. You are in the Australian outback . . . on a bus . . . in drag . . . crossing the desert one song at a time. If the plotline doesn't appeal to you, come anyway to enjoy the costumes and the music! This one was was mostly just for fun!

 

July 2010  If These Walls Could Talk 2

Three separate stories about lesbian couples who have lived in the same house at different times over the course of four decades. Themes include grief and loss in 1961, feminist politics in 1972, and lesbian parenting in 2000. Great performances from some of the actors:  Vanessa Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Michelle Williams, Chloë Sevigny, Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Stone.

 

October 2010  Transamerica

From the Internet Movie Data Base: "A pre-operative male-to-female transsexual takes an unexpected journey when she learns that she fathered a son, now a teenage runaway hustling on the streets of New York." Stars Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers and Fionnula Flanagan.  See trailer.