top of page

An Open and Affirming Congregation

St. Paul’s Open and Affirming (ONA) mission is to extend a warm welcome to all those who seek a safe and loving space for worship and a place to feel the presence of God. Our doors are open to those in the LGBTQ community, as well as those of any race, ethnicity, age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, family composition, or church experience or lack of church experience. No matter who you are, or where your journey may be, St. Paul’s doors are open, with a warm welcome, and a loving heart to greet you.

What is Open and Affirming?

In 1985, the United Church of Christ's General Synod adopted a resolution encouraging UCC congregations to welcome gay, lesbian, and bisexual members, urging them to “Declare Themselves Open and Affirming”. The national church developed the UCC ONA Coalition to work with congregations through their individual journeys. In 1987, the Coalition certified the first 15 ONA congregations. Today, over 1,500 congregations have declared themselves Open and Affirming, which represents approximately 30% of all UCC congregations.

St. Paul’s ONA Journey

In the fall of 2017, a group of St. Paul’s members met to discuss the possibility of becoming an ONA congregation. Under the leadership of Pastor Dave Martin, an ONA team was developed, consisting of Pastor Dave, Deb Henry, Kathy Sterrett, Jess Hoffman, and Joyce Kain. Our welcoming team started by seeking the support of the church’s consistory (board), which had already given permission for a same gender wedding in its sanctuary earlier that year. With positive support from the consistory, the team organized a series of events including a sharing of stories, video Bible studies, outside presenters, and worship services. Following these events, our welcoming team created a draft ONA covenant, and a straw poll in August of 2019 was overwhelmingly in favor of it. In October 2019, St. Paul’s voted 31-2 to adopt the covenant. St. Paul’s became an official ONA congregation of the United Church of Christ


Our Continued Support

Since the adoption of the ONA covenant, our welcoming team has continued to meet in order to find the best ways for us to journey forward as an ONA congregation. We believe LGBTQ-affirming words and other actions are important! That’s why we:

  • Offer marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples

  • Are a voice in the York and Harrisburg areas for LGBT rights

  • Participate in PFLAG, Equality and Diversity festivals, workshops, and events

  • Network with other like-minded churches and organizations

  • And there’s more! We welcome you, your family and friends to visit…and to join us as we live together in the Open and Affirming love of God!

St. Paul’s ONA Covenant

As people of faith and followers of Jesus Christ, we embrace and celebrate the beautiful and amazing diversity of God’s children. We believe that all people are created in the image of God and all are worthy of God’s love and grace. Remembering that Jesus calls us to love one another as he loves us, we welcome all people to St. Paul’s UCC regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, culture, economic status, ethnicity, or family composition.

We recognize that there are differences among us, but believe that we can love alike even though we may not think alike. We proclaim this covenant of welcome to all who have known the pain of exclusion or discrimination in church and society. We invite all people to join us in our faith journey toward greater love, understanding, and mutual respect.

You are welcome at St. Paul’s UCC!

bottom of page