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Inclusive Language Guidelines

 

Adopted by the Staff of the Ohio Conference

Resources
Preface
Guidelines for Worship
Guidelines for Written and Audiovisual Materials
Guidelines for Program Leadership
Concluding Covenant
Suggested Resources

Preface

All human beings--male and female; black, white, red, brown, yellow; old and young; homosexual and heterosexual; educated and illiterate; persons with fewer disabilities and persons with more disabilities--are made in God's image, loved by God, and are persons offered God's salvation. As the staff of the Ohio Conference, United Church of Christ, we seek to have our language and actions reflect this understanding. In the church we recognize that God breaks down barriers among people and between people and God. We are called to witness to this reality and take action ourselves to break down barriers.

Inclusiveness in our life together in the church means that no person is excluded from participation in leadership, decision-making, or other aspects of church life. Inclusiveness in our language means that we will expand our images of God in order to assist in breaking down barriers between God and God's people. Language in the church, and the imagery it reveals, needs to proclaim the message of God's love for every human being.

I. Guidelines for Worship

We commit ourselves to using intentionally inclusive language about God and God's people whenever and wherever we lead or participate in worship. We will do so in the following ways:

*In all the written and spoken words of worship--liturgy, scripture, sermon--we will use either a balance of masculine and feminine images of God or images that are not gender specific.

*In all of the written and spoken words of worship, we will use language about the people of God that is inclusive in terms of gender, race, age, differing abilities, and sexual orientation.

*We will select hymns and music for worship that use inclusive language about God and God's people.

When sharing the creation and/or leadership or worship with others, we will share the Conference staff commitment to inclusivity and provide or recommend inclusive language resources, including these guidelines.

II.  Guidelines for All Written Communications and Audiovisual Materials

We commit ourselves to using intentionally inclusive language about God and God's people in all written communications and audiovisual materials of the Ohio Conference, United Church of Christ. These include all materials printed, produced and distributed by the Ohio Conference.

In creating and selecting text and musical verses:

*We will use inclusive language resources, such as the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible or the Inclusive Language Lectionaries and the New Century Hymnal.

*We will, when on the internet, use language that is inclusive and respectful of all people.

*We will include language and illustrations that offer parity.

Examples: "men and women" instead of "men and ladies (or gals or girls)"; "Isaiah, Ruth, Amos, Esther" instead of "Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Daniel"; "husband and wife" instead of "man and wife"; "Dr. John Smith and Dr. Mary Brown/John Smith and Mary Brown" instead of "Dr. John Smith and Mary Brown."

*We will avoid male-only terms, pronouns, and images for people.

Examples: "people" instead of "men"; "humankind" instead of "mankind"; "give to each person his or her Bible"/"give the people (or participants or church members) their Bibles" instead of "give to each person his Bible"; "sons and daughters (or children)" instead of "sons"; "chairperson (or chair)" instead of "chairman"; "forebears" instead of "forefathers"; "when I became an adult" instead of "when I became a man."

*We will include images that are not pejorative for persons of color.

Examples: "washed clean" instead of "washed white"; "lies" instead of "white lies"; "discriminated against/excluded" instead of "blacklisted"; "the presence of evil" instead of "the darkness of evil."

*We will include images that are not pejorative for persons with disabilities or make assumptions about persons with disabilities.

Examples: "person in a wheelchair" instead of "person confined to a wheelchair"; "person with a disability" instead of "crippled"; "persons with leprosy" instead of "lepers"; "All who are able may stand" instead of "All stand."

*We will include male and female or gender-neutral language for God.

Examples: "God in God's wisdom" instead of "God in his wisdom"; "O God, who watches over us as a Father and nurtures us as a Mother" instead of "O God, who watches over us as a Father"; "Creator God" instead of "Father God;" "Our Creator" or "Our Father and Mother" instead of "Our Father."

*We will avoid stereotypes.

Examples: blacks as being poor or always the people in need; women as being weak or auxiliary to the work of the church; old people as being infirm, doddering, or not useful; young people as being rash or important only as the future of the church, American Indians as being mascots or as blood-seeking warriors, seminarians as being only white, male, newly graduated persons from college

*We will avoid defining women only in relation to men.

Examples: "two couples" instead of "two men and their wives"; "immigrants and their children" instead of "immigrants and their wives and children."

*We will avoid referring to the gender, marital status, race, age, or ability of persons unless it is specifically relevant to the story.

Examples: "pastor" instead of "black pastor (or woman pastor)"; "John, a representative from First Church" instead of "John, a blind man from First Church."

When working with others in the creation or selection of printed and audiovisual materials, we will share the Conference staff commitment to inclusivity and provide or recommend inclusive language resources, including these guidelines.

III. Guidelines for Program Leadership

We commit ourselves to using intentionally inclusive language about God and God's people whenever and wherever we take part in program leadership. We will do so in the following ways:

*When speaking to any person or group, we will use inclusive language and imagery.

*We will avoid stories and illustrations that stereotype people.

*We will avoid using exclusive language or imagery and then apologizing for it.

*We will avoid assuming (erroneously) that women are the only ones who care about sexist language and imagery, and that racial/ethnic minority persons are the only ones who care about racist language and imagery.

*We will avoid "blaming" or "crediting" others, an institution, or these guidelines with our choice of language and imagery, but we will make it obvious by how and what we say and do that inclusivity is important to us.

*When preparing workshop materials, we will make every effort to use or produce those resources that are inclusive. (See especially the guidelines for printed and audiovisual materials.)

*When engaged in committee work, we will avoid using the smaller, more intimate setting as an excuse not to use inclusive language and imagery.

When sharing program leadership with others, we will share the Conference staff commitment to inclusivity and provide or recommend inclusive language resources, including these guidelines.

Concluding Covenant

We, the staff of the Ohio Conference, United Church of Christ, covenant together to use these guidelines in our common discourse. With God's help, we will seek to model inclusiveness in our lifestyle, language, and ministry.
              

Suggested Inclusive Language Resources
    
Worship Resources
An Inclusive Language Lectionary (readings for cycles A, B, and C).  National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Pilgrim Press, current years for revised versions.
Bread for the Journey: Resources for Worship.  Ruth Duck, ed., Pilgrim Press, 1981.
Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.  UCC Office for Church Life and Leadership, 1986.
Faithful and Fair:  Transcending Sexist Language in Worship.  Keith Watkins, Abingdon Press, 1981.
Flames of the Spirit.  Ruth Duck, ed., Pilgrim Press, 1985.
Fresh Winds of the Spirit: Liturgical Resources for Year A.  Lavon Baylor, Pilgrim Press, 1986.
Gifts of Many Cultures, Tirabassi & Eddy, United Church Press, 1995.
Image Breaking, Image Building:  A Handbook for Creative Worship with Women of Christian Tradition.  Linda Clark, Marian Ronan and Eleanor Walker, Pilgrim Press, 1981.
Inclusive Language Psalms.  National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Pilgrim Press, 1987.
In Wisdom's Path, Richardson, Pilgrim Press, 2000.
Whispers of God:  Liturgical Resources for Year B.  Lavon Baylor, Pilgrim Press, 1987.
Wisdom Searches, Chinn & Gleeson, Pilgrim Press, 1999.
Woman Prayer, Woman Song:  Resources for Ritual.  Miriam Therese Winter, Meyer-Stone Books, 1987.
Worship:  Inclusive Language Resources.  UCC Office for Church Life and Leadership.
Inclusive Hymnals
A Singing Faith.  Jane Parker Huber, Westminster Press, 1987.
Everflowing Streams.  Ruth Duck and Michael Bausch, eds., Pilgrim Press, 1981.
Inclusive Language Hymns based on The Pilgrim Hymnal.  The First Congregational Church in Amherst, MA, 1984.
The New Century Hymnal.  The Pilgrim Press, 1995.
Other Resources
Inclusive Language Guidelines for Use and Study in the United Church of Christ.  UCC, 1997.
Studying Language, Booklet #10 of the Guidebook for Women's Organizations.  UCC Office for Church Life and Leadership, 1986.
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