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Membership Start A Chapter

Interweave: Start A Chapter

How to Start a BGLT Group: A Handbook for You and Your Congregation 

Published by Interweave Continental

Great! You've decided to look into starting your own chapter!

You may have gotten to this point from various places. Sometimes a
congregation decides to go throught the Welcoming Congregation process
and that leads to the desire for a bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender
(BGLT) and allies group. Sometimes individuals get to know each other
and decide to form a group within their congregation. Sometimes one
individual wants to establish a BGLT presence in the congregation and
starts out on their own.

Knowing why you want a BGLT group is essential to assuring the success
of your endeavor. Mission statements are discussed below, but to start,
keep in mind these fundamentals that agree with Unitarian Universalist
(UU) principles:

1. Be inclusive. With regard to every choice you make, ask yourself:
Will this open us to more people or will some feel left out?

2. Be democratic. A core UU principle for governing our groups,
this can mean different things in different settings. But involvement in
decision-making keeps people involved in a group and gives them a stake
in it.

3. Be active. People lose interest if you don’t have regular activities
that bring them together. Interaction and connection is what it’s all

4. Be a safe place. Make your group a place where BGLT people
and those who are questioning or unsure feel safe, with all of the privacy
that the most insecure person in the group wants. Keep that in mind in
setting up your group.

What should we call ourselves?

By all means, we invite you to call your group Interweave. The name is
not legally owned by Interweave Continental or anyone else, and has
become a great way for BGLT UUs to identify themselves – with a word
that has many resonances for our place in our congregations and in the
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Some UU groups have chosen
Have a good mix of activities – regularly scheduled activities that become
the backbone of your group, and special events that keep the group
together in planning ahead.

Always participate in congregational activities – social hours, fairs, new
member activities, etc. At least some of your members should be ready
to identify themselves as BGLT or allies at services or church functions,
such as with a rainbow or pink triangle decal on their church name tags.
These stickers can be acquired from the UUA Office of BGLT Concerns
(contact information is located in the downloadable brochure at the end of this Handbook).

Look for guidance from older and more established BGLT groups in our
area or in other UU congregations. Contact Interweave Continental for
contact information for Interweave chapters.

Be conscious of group dynamics – dissension within the group, conflict,
even personal member crises. Sometimes your group will be the safest
place to turn to for a member in crisis and you will find yourself quickly
in a pastoral role. Get these persons to the real thing – your minister
– but be ready as a group to form a circle of caring around them as
they navigate their personal crisis. These are the bonds that keep groups

What resources are available to us as we set up a group?

You are not alone. There are dozens of BGLT groups in UU congregations
throughout the continent. Interweave Continental is always available
as a resource. Our bi-monthly newsletter, InterweaveWorld, features
a contact list of chapters as well as a column of advice by chapters for
chapters. Our e-mail chat list, interweave-d, through the uua.org website
is a good information exchange mechanism to raise questions or
concerns. Probably some other group has dealt with the same questions
already. Join interweave-d at www.uua.org/mailman/listinfo/interweaved.
If you choose to affiliate with Interweave, you can join our chat list
specifically for chapter leaders. Get in touch with the UUA Office of
BGLT Concerns in Boston. Their full-time staff can help you out as well.

Want to learn more about starting a chapter in your area? Please download our brochure to help you get started!

To download this pdf in Spanish click here.


Last Modified: 13 July 2011 - Admin