Beacon Street Diary blog

Piecing the puzzle together

The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ was established by a group of activists in 1972 to advocate for the inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the United Church of Christ. The UCC adopted the Open and Affirming Resolution in 1985, and every year since, more UCC churches have joined the movement to become 'Inclusive Churches'. In the forty years since its inception, the Open and Affirming Coalition has expanded its mandate of inclusion from gender and sexual orientation to race, age, and mental health.

The Coalition's success in bringing inclusivity to the UCC happened because of decades of advocacy, activism, and hard work. Now, the Congregational Library & Archives is assembling a collection of records that tells this story.

The Coalition's archival records have trickled into the Congregational Library & Archives. Documents have come from the Coalition's central offices in Cleveland, OH, and from individual Coalition activists turning over their own documents.

Since the Coalition lacked a central office or dedicated staff for its first thirty years, these segments of their story stayed with the people who created them. Each fragment of the story was hidden in somebody's attic or closet — sheaves of correspondence nestled in folders and boxes, resources for activists and churches, and newspaper clippings documenting bitter losses and setbacks, slowly giving way to the movement's victories of the last decade.

Now we have started to piece together that story by consolidating the records here in Boston.

Marnie Warner, one of the co-authors of the original Open and Affirming Resolution, joined the Congregational Library & Archives to assist us with the collection. Since she was directly involved, she can provide context and understanding to a complicated project. Each addition fills holes in the Coalition's story, and brings more nuance to the movement. With Marnie's help, we have aggregated and documented the disparate records, and transformed it into a unified collection. It is fully available for researchers here at the Congregational Library & Archives.

The UCC slogan "God is still speaking" ends with a comma to signify that a conversation continues. The LGBT rights movement, the Coalition's work, and its collection here is an ongoing conversation. Take a look at the collection and see what we are talking about.

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