Monday, January 04, 2010

Sexual Justice in Faith Communities in the First Decade: A Decade of Progress

Happy New Year!

There have been lots of retrospectives about the first decade of the 21st century, from economics to arts to peace in the world. The conclusions have been decidedly mixed.

But, there is no question that the past ten years have seen remarkable progress in furthering the vision of the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, the seminal statement that was first published in January 2000.

Here are some of the highlights from 2000 until now:

*While women's ordination was not new in 2000, there has been notable progress in the numbers of women in denominational leadership. Women now head the Episcopal Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and the Fellowship. Women serve as bishops in such diverse traditions as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, AME Zion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church.

*In 2000, only a handful of denominations had welcoming organizations promoting full inclusion of lesbian and gay persons in faith communities. Today, every mainline Protest denomination has an official or associated group working towards full inclusion, as well as several in Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic, and evangelical traditions. According to our colleagues at the Institute for Welcoming Resources, there are now more than 3300 welcoming congregations in the U.S., a threefold increase since 2003.

*Marriage for same sex couples was barely on the national agenda 10 years ago. Only UUA clergy were sanctioned to perform same sex unions; today at least a dozen Christian and Jewish denominations allow their clergy to perform marriage or union ceremonies, and they are legal in five states and the District of Columbia.

*It was ten years ago that the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ published all six of the curricula that make up "Our Whole Lives", the comprehensive sexuality education program for congregations that begins in early elementary school and continues through adulthood. At least a dozen denominations now have their own sexuality education curricula.

There is still so much to be done to realize the goal of sexual justice in faith communities and society at large. But, just for today, as we stand on the cusp of this new decade, it's time for us to celebrate all that has happened during the past decade. And to be thankful to all those who made it happen.

May this been a blessed year for us all.

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