Open and Affirming

St. Pauls is a member of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches.

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LGBTQ History, the UCC and St. Pauls Church

1924 — Henry Gerber, German immigrant, establishes in Chicago the Society for Human Rights, the first recognized gay rights group in the US.

1961 — Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize sodomy and behavior “by consenting adults in private.”   

1968 — Troy Perry founds Metropolitan Community Church in California.    

1969 — Stonewall Riots/Uprising/Rebellion in NYC.  A 3-day series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid in the early morning hours of June 28 at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of NYC. Frequently cited as the first instance where the LGBTQ community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities. Often considered the defining event that marked the start of the LGBTQ rights movement in the US and around the world.     

1970 — First Chicago Gay Rights/Gay Pride March held (from Bughouse Square to Daley Plaza) – to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.   

1972 — UCC ordains William R. Johnson, first openly gay person ordained to UCC ministry – or any other mainline Christian denomination.

1972 — UCC Gay Caucus (which ultimately becomes the UCC Coalition for LBGT Concerns) forms.  

1973 — American Psychiatric Association (APA) votes to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. [meaning that simply that status of being LGBTQ was no longer considered to be a mental illness].     

1982 — UCC ordains Ann Holmes, first open lesbian ordained to UCC ministry.

1985 — UCC General Synod adopts resolution calling on local UCC churches and other bodies within the UCC to vote to declare themselves to be Open and Affirming (Ames IA).

1988 — Chicago adopts amendments to the City’s Human Rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (originally introduced in 1973).  

1989 — St. Pauls Church adopts Revised Bylaws, declaring St Pauls to be Open and Affirming of all persons without regard to “sex or sexual orientation” – the 40th church in the UCC to do so. 

1993 — Cook County adopts Human Rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1999 — UCC Board of Homeland Ministries establishes the William R. Johnson Scholarship for openly LGBTQ UCC seminarians studying to become parish ministers.  

2002 — Illinois Conference of the UCC adopts resolution declaring itself and “all of its structures and policies” to be Open and Affirming, and encouraging local churches to declare themselves to be Open and Affirming to all persons, specifically including LGBTQ persons, their family and friends (adopting a resolution introduced by St Pauls Church and the Illinois Conference Coalition of LGBT Concerns in 1989).

2002 — St Pauls Church calls Rev. Jeffrey Carlson, its first openly gay pastor.  

2005 — UCC General Synod adopts marriage equality resolution (Atlanta, GA).

2005 — Illinois adopts amendments to the state Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

2011 — Illinois adopts Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (aka Civil union law).     

2010 — St. Pauls Church amends its Revised Bylaws to be Open and Affirming to all persons, without regard to “gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.”       

2012 — Number of UCC churches that have voted to declare themselves Open and Affirming exceeds 1000 (of around 5100 total UCC churches).       

2014 — Illinois legalizes marriage equality, St. Pauls Church celebrates our 25th anniversary of being Open and Affirming.