Pastor Barbara Lohrbach
1045 West River Street
Kankakee, IL 60901
(815) 932-3336

Words of hope

From parents of gays and lesbians who form the organization known as PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays)

“We change hearts and minds by telling our personal stories. Our stories cannot be denied. You cannot hate someone whose story you know. It is increasingly critical that we tell our stories, that we tell our truth. I will continue to tell mine wherever and whenever I can. Tell your stories, make your voices heard. Stand up and be counted now!”

UCC Coalition

The Coalition provides support and sanctuary to all our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers, their families and friends; advocates for their full inclusion in church and society; and brings Christ's affirming message of love and justice for all people.

This Coalition ministry is rooted in our particular place as Christians working for peace and justice, inspired by the Good News of God's extravagant welcome.

Click on this image to be taken to the national UCC website LGBT Coalition page.

Return to this page by using the back arrow on the upper left of your browser.

A simple definition

Open and Affirming (ONA) means that a setting of the UCC (local church, conference, campus ministry, etc.) has publicly declared that those of all sexual orientations are welcome in its full life and ministry (membership, leadership, employment). While the focus of ONA is on sexual orientation, to be open and affirming implies a welcome to people regardless of any of the "isms" which cause people to not be welcomed in other places, i.e., racism, ageism, etc.

Our ONA story

In 2001, under the guidance of our Pastor, the Elders began the process of understanding what it means to be open and affirming. In October of 2001, both the Elders and the Council, adopted a statement defining and declaring the intention of St. John UCC to be open and affirming in the welcome and inclusion of all people in the life of the church. That statement is included in the bulletin, newsletter and website. The statement is as follows:

“All people are welcome to worship at St. John United Church of Christ and become members of our congregation. No one is excluded from enjoying fellowship with us because of age, sex, race, color, challenge, or sexual orientation and/or affectional.

“Our Christian congregation appreciates differences in people and encourages diverse views. We worship God with one another. All are welcome to participate fully in the life of our church.”

Following the adoption by the elders and council, a period of study and reflection took place under the guidance of Rev. Scott, Interim Minister, and Rev. Norwalk, the Eastern Association Minister. In August, 2003 at a congregational meeting, the people of St. John voted unanimously to become an Open and Affirming Congregation.

Rev. Lohrbach began as our pastor in March, 2004 and felt called to St. John in part because of our ONA standing. Since 2004, Pastor Barbara and the Elders have been seeking God's direction in how to live out the commitment of being an Open and Affirming Congregation.

Part of that process included being listed in 2005 as an Open and Affirming Congregation through the work of the UCC Coalition and becoming a "God is Still-Speaking" congregation.

Click on the text on the right to link to the points.