Gables UCC seeks to be a diverse and faithful community in which all can find support and nurture for spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth. As a member of the United Church of Christ, we claim these identities to which we bear witness through our service, commitment, and work.
In 1972, the United Church of Christ became the first Christian denomination to ordain an openly gay person. In 1985, the UCC General Synod called upon its congregations to adopt a policy of non-discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, and to adopt a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientation. In 2003, the 24th General Synod updated its statement to include gender identity and gender expression, and in 2005, the UCC became the first mainline church to support marriage equality.
Gables UCC is proud to be part of this tradition of welcome and inclusion. In 2004, we passed a motion to become an Open and Affirming congregation, meaning we openly welcome and affirm all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Coral Gables Congregational, United Church of Christ has identified itself as a place of affirmation and Christian nurture for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. The Open and Affirming designation extends a welcome to LGBTQIA+ persons into the full life and ministry of the church.
We resolve that God’s love, Christ’s body of fellowship and ministry, and the Spirit’s power are intended for persons of all colors, ages, abilities, sexual orientations and gender identities.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to faithfully living out this understanding by being a safe, inclusive, affirming faith community for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities, their families, and their supporters.
The UCC defines “just peace” as the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence. Therefore, to the extent we are able, each member of our congregation will work as a peacemaker in various ways and in many different areas to promote justice for all people. We can start by learning to manage our own anger and by reaching out in our community to care for the earth and provide clean air, clean water, food, health, housing, employment, education, religious freedom, equality, and economic justice for all. In our courtyard, we have placed a peace pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” inscribed on it in many languages, as a reminder of our commitment to the work of peace.
In 2018, Gables UCC became a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged for Mental Health) Congregation of the UCC. We are one of the first congregations to claim this status, and we now seek to live it out by opening the doors of the church even wider by offering extravagant hospitality to those living with mental illness and brain disorders, and those who care for them. Our WISE Team seeks to provide programming, support, and advocacy in the areas of mental health.
We, the people of Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, know we are graced by the gifts, stories, and experiences of all our members, including those living with mental health challenges such as, but not limited to, mental illness, brain disorders, additions, and trauma. We care about the whole person: body, heart, mind, and soul. We affirm the deep and constant movement of God’s Holy Spirit, seeking to bring us to the fullness of life. We believe that all people are beloved by God, and if a person has a mental health challenge that person has a right to be seen as a person first. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” He made no distinction between various members of society; he did not show any partiality.
It is our calling to communicate to all individuals that God loves all of us equally, even when we do not feel the love of the Holy Spirit in our lives. People with mental health challenges have gifts to be offered in our faith community, and we want everyone to feel fully welcomed, included, supported and engaged in the life, work, and leadership of our church.
We, Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, vote to continue to be a welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and engaged (WISE) congregation for mental health.
We pledge to create a welcoming environment for people with mental health challenges and their families.
We pledge to include people with mental health challenges in the life, work, and leadership of the congregation.
We pledge to support people in our congregation who have mental health challenges, and their families.
We pledge to engage with other organizations that work at the intersection of mental health and faith/spirituality/religion.
As a community of faith, Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ is committed to opening our doors to undocumented immigrants in need of sanctuary. We will support those who are threatened by a policy that is separating families and deporting people who are beloved members of our community. The more we sacrifice with these undocumented immigrants, the more we learn about God’s capacity for hospitality, mercy and love. We can only do this with the support of this congregation, other houses of faith, and the open-hearted space of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, hearing the Christian call to love our neighbors as ourselves and responding to the ancient prophetic call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, we affirm our willingness to be a place of safety, advocacy, and hope for undocumented immigrants in need.
Black Lives Matter. This is a truth we speak to ourselves, to the Church, and to the world as we witness racism continue to take the lives of Black people in America.
With grieving hearts we speak their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Corey Jones, Atatiana Jefferson, Trayvon Martin and countless other victims of racist violence, both known and unknown, listened to and ignored. The voice of their blood cries out from the ground, and we join this cry for justice.
Again and again, we are reminded that racism is more than individual thoughts and actions. It is an immoral system that structurally discriminates against and oppresses people of color – especially Black people – through underfunded schools, lack of access to healthcare, food insecurity, discriminatory housing policies, polluted neighborhoods and undrinkable water, and an unjust criminal justice system.
As Christians, we believe that all people are children of God and deserve the same dignity, compassion, and access to a full life no matter their skin color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, socio-economic status, ability, education, or faith tradition.
The book of Genesis affirms that, “God created humankind in God’s own image;” that all people are beloved, blessed image-bearers of the Divine. Likewise the Apostle Paul preaches in Galatians that “there is no longer Jew nor Greek…for all are one in Christ Jesus;” that we are united as a human race, and that in God nothing divides us. In this oneness, we must unite and resist the racism that permeates every institution in this country — including the Church — and deprives us of fully experiencing the wholeness and equality promised by God and exemplified in the life of Jesus.
Coral Gables Congregational, United Church of Christ continues its commitment to the work of anti-racism, to dismantling the system of White supremacy, and to the co-creation with the Holy Spirit of God’s reign of peace and justice on earth. This is the work that Jesus calls us to, in courage and hope, for a transformed world where all God’s children are equal, free, and loved.
As a congregation, we will embody this commitment in our life and culture together through awareness, education, skills, application of anti-racist education, policies, and practices, as we continue to our work of dismantling racism. This includes:
- Anti-racist educational programming for children, youth, and adults
- Building relationships with diverse congregations
- Partnership with and purchases from Black-owned businesses and Black-led community organizations
- Justice work with PACT on issues of housing, gun violence, and unnecessary arrests
- Hiring practices that prioritize racial diversity
- Prophetic preaching and worship
- Prayer without ceasing for racial justice
In the name of God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, we re-affirm our commitment to dismantling racism in our nation and to the work of justice and witness for all people. Amen.