Friday, April 4, 2008

United Church of Christ Celebrates its Story

Members of my denomination, the United Church of Christ, raised over $170,000 in less than a week to run a full-page ad in the April 2, 2008 edition of the New York Times, celebrating the UCC's nearly four hundred year history of faith, liberty, and witness. The effort, partially a response to incomplete and inaccurate news coverage of the UCC and particularly Trinity UCC in Chicago, was so successful that a further effort will permit a new ad in USA Today.

I think it speaks for itself, so I'll simply share the text of the ad here:

Much has been said about the United Church of Christ in recent weeks, much of it hurtful for many in our country, including members of Trinity UCC in Chicago. That is why we are eager to share the broad and diverse story of the United Church of Christ, one that we celebrate.
With all Christians, we rest in God’s amazing grace and hear God’s voice in the words of Scripture. Yet, the UCC is unique to some because we do not require uniformity of belief. We are a church of open ideas, extravagant welcome and evangelical courage. Our passion for democracy extends to both government and church, where decision-making rests within each congregation. We support liberty in our pulpits, just as we affirm the individual conscience of our 1.2-million members to agree, disagree and wrestle with life’s biggest questions in a spirit of love.

Our story is this nation’s story. We are the people of the Mayflower. More than 600 of our 5,700 congregations were formed before 1776. Eleven signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of UCC predecessor bodies.

As early abolitionists, we came to the aid of the Amistad captives and founded hundreds of schools across the South after the Civil War. We were the first mainline church to ordain an African-American (1785), a woman (1853) and an openly gay pastor (1972). We were also the first to form a foreign mission society (1810). Our multi-ethnic membership includes persons from every immigrant group, as well as native peoples and descendants of freed slaves.

Our unity is not dependent upon uniform agreement, but in our shared allegiance to Jesus Christ. Ours is a risk-taking church, because ours is a risk-taking God. God is still speaking, ®

If you want to download the ad, I have posted it on the Vermont Conference's website. Click the links that follow to view/download.