More and more, it seems that I am getting the question “What is the United Church of Christ?” Most of the time, I simply respond, “Probably the most progressive mainline protestant denomination out there.” But that really doesn’t say much. And often, people associate progressive with liberal, and make a whole lot of assumptions which really lead to no where productive.
Recently, the UCC released their recently redesigned website. As part of it, they created a wonderful page which asks congregations to examine how they fit into what matters to the UCC.
Here is the site, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty if you’re reading on the run.
(1) We Are People of God’s Extravagant Welcome
In recent marketing campaigns, the UCC
adopted the slogan, “Jesus didn’t turn people
away. Neither do we.” God’s arms are open
to us all, and the UCC strives to be direct
about such a revolutionary welcome and grace.
(2) We Belong to Christ
From the site (b/c I couldn’t think of a way to say it better):
"We belong to Christ" is a loaded phrase. It's loaded
because it means different things to different people.
It packs within it comfort for some; challenge for
others; and for many both comfort and challenge. For
some, the words unite; for others the words divide. In
the United Church of Christ, we pray the words comfort, challenge, and unite.
(3) We Are a People of Covenant, a United and Uniting Church
The church historically is steeped in the idea of
Covenant, promises that are defined on levels
beyond human loyalty. In that covenant is the promise
of God’s love and grace, which has brought us together
and continues to do so.
(4) We Are One at Baptism and at the Table
Again, from the site: Just some water, just a simple meal of
bread and juice, but for us in the United Church Christ, what
is simple means much more. We celebrate two sacraments.
One is Baptism. The other is Holy Communion which is also
often called the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. Sacraments are
our ritual acts in worship life when the Holy Spirit uses water, bread, and wine to make visible the grace, forgiveness, and presence of God in Christ.
(5) We Thank God by Working for a Just and Loving World
We are called by God to do whatever we can
to be stewards of God’s Creation. Certainly this includes
environmental concerns, but it goes far beyond that.
It means working for justice for the disenfranchised,
loving the unloved, and realized that anything we
interact with is part of God’s creation.
(6) We Listen for the Still-speaking God
God isn’t dormant. The Bible isn’t the end of
God’s voice speaking to us. Part of an active
spiritual life is action and silence, finding the
space for God to speak, and the will to listen.