United Church of Christ Press Release
May 3, 2015
Submitted by Karen Manning for the Open and Affirming Task Force
The United Church of Christ in Maquoketa has become an “Open and Affirming” congregation. The church adopted the status within its denomination in March 2015. The church becomes the 17th church in Iowa to adopt the designation.
In becoming an “Open and Affirming” congregation, the church states publicly that it welcomes all people and explicitly includes those of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
The process of adopting the “Open and Affirming” status was led by a task force appointed by the church council. The task force collected information, studied biblical witness and consulted with another “Open and Affirming” church. The church council voted to adopt the status leading to a vote of affirmation by the congregation.
Members of the congregation stated that a part of their motivation for publicly welcoming people of all gender identities and sexual orientations was the conviction that their friends and relatives who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender need to know that there are churches that welcome them.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!” These are the words spoken at the opening of every worship service and printed on the front of the bulletin each Sunday.
“We try to faithfully live those words,” said Rev. Stephanie Haskins, the pastor of Maquoketa United Church of Christ.
Pastor Haskins said, “We believe that God is still speaking, and that God calls us to fresh understandings of the Bible, faith, and sexuality. By becoming ‘Open and Affirming,’ we are just trying to catch up to where God already is.”
More than 1,000 churches in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination have become “Open and Affirming.”
The Maquoketa United Church of Christ, a merger of two congregations, has been located at 206 East Platt Street since 1854.