“I am proud of the level of openness, welcome, and hospitality that already exists for all people in our communities,” said the Rev. Kenneth V. Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “I’m also very proud to be affiliated with an organization that has taken this kind of public ethical stance.”
Robert Kutschbach, chairman of the UCH board, said, “We are a safe and welcoming place where you can be yourself, to be who God created. Being even more open and affirming of all of our residents is in line with our core values.” He said that UCH’s policies of radical hospitality and welcome are a reflection of the values of the United Church of Christ, with which UCH has a continuing relationship. “All people have the right to be treated with the same dignity and respect, which is what we offer in our communities,” he said.
Kutschbach and Daniel agree that the policy-language addition is simply articulating what has been in effect for years. “Any type of discrimination in our communities is unacceptable to us,” said Daniel. “Being open and affirming of all residents is one of our core values.”
To help strengthen the ability of UCH staff to tend to LGBT seniors and realize the board’s desire to impact the culture of the organization, UCH will be partnering with SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders), a national organization. “Our intention is to bring SAGE in to do training with our staff,” said Daniel. “This will allow our staff to understand what we are doing, and gain insight into the unique life circumstances of folks so they will be better able to provide appropriate and meaningful support.”
Andy Lang, executive director of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns, says that he is encouraged that the UCH board has taken this step. “We hope this will be a shining example for similar organizations around the country,” said Lang. “We’re proud that UCH is one of the open and affirming settings of the United Church of Christ. What they have done is not just radical hospitality. It’s living fully in the basic message of the gospel that everyone is wanted, everyone is needed and nobody is excluded.”
Daniel said that adding additional language to his organization’s policies is in line with UCH’s ongoing commitment to be fully diverse in admissions and hiring. “What makes this new for us is that it’s not just a policy,” said Daniel. “It is a commitment by the board to reach out to folks in the LGBT community who are affected by social discrimination even in senior-care services. We want United Church Homes to be known for being a leader in addressing that discrimination and being on the forefront in homes and services for all people who are aging.”
About United Church Homes
United Church Homes has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for nearly a century. This nonprofit, faith-based senior living and healthcare provider based in Marion, Ohio, serves more than 3,500 seniors in 66 communities in more than a dozen states nationwide. United Church Homes is in covenant with the United Church of Christ, and welcomes residents of all faiths.