OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of Gateway Open and Affirming (ONA) Coalition is to serve as a resource for churches who seek to embrace the diversity of God's people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We strive to serve as a spiritually supportive resource for LGBTQIA (Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Trangender / Queer or Questioning / Intersexual / Ally) individuals and their families and friends.
We welcome UCC churches and institutions in the St. Louis metropolitan area who are ONA, as well as individuals and pastors from other congregations who choose to affiliate with, and support the mission of, Gateway ONA. We believe the extravagant welcome of the United Church of Christ is a continuing testament of God's inclusive love for all.
Being an ONA church is a public declaration that all are invited into the full life and ministry of our congregations, and that the grace of our Still Speaking God is a blessing offered to us all.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GATEWAY ONA
At the dawn of the new millennium, Epiphany UCC (the first ONA congregation in the St. Louis area) and Peace UCC (newly ONA and the second) decided to go to Pride Fest St. Louis together and share a booth, a partnership, and a witness. With each successive ONA vote, other UCC congregations have joined the effort. By the spring of 2008, there were 10 congregations and as yet little organization. Events in our UCC community prompted an organizational gathering and a re-commitment to active witness. Adopting the name, Gateway ONA, the ONA UCC churches in the St. Louis metropolitan area made a commitment to not only be a presence at Pride but also within our UCC churches and communities year-round. In the years since, Gateway ONA has grown to meeting regularly throughout the year, continuously addressing issues of spirituality and radical welcome particularly as this applies to the LGBT community in the UCC.
Routine activities include a unit in the parade and a booth at Pride Fest St. Louis, a booth at Black Pride, publicity for our radical welcome at events likely to be frequented by the LGBT community, and serving as a resource for our UCC churches and wider community on issues of affirming & including all into congregational life. Beginning in 2012, an annual daylong educational event was developed & coordinated by Gateway ONA to help our ONA churches live more fully into their ONA commitment, and for non-ONA churches to learn about the joys of being ONA and how to begin an ONA process of their own.