The United Church of Christ

History of the United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a community of faith that seeks to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.  The UCC was founded in 1957 as the union of several different Christian traditions: from the beginning of our history, we were a church that affirmed the ideal that Christians did not always have to agree to live together in communion.  Our motto -“that they may all be one” – is Jesus’ prayer for the unity of the church.  The UCC is one of the most diverse Christian denominations in the United States.

Intelligent dialogue and a strong independent streak sometimes cause the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its 1.2 million members to be called a “heady and exasperating mix.” The UCC tends to be a mostly progressive denomination that unabashedly engages heart and mind.  And yet, the UCC somehow manages to balance congregational autonomy with a strong commitment to unity among its nearly 5,600 congregations – despite wide differences among many local congregations on a variety of issues.

While preserving relevant portions of heritage and history dating back to the 16th century, the UCC and its forebears have proven themselves capable of moving forward, tying faith to social justice and shaping cutting edge theology and service in an ever-changing world.  Affirming that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, the UCC claims as its own the faith of the historic church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant reformers.  Yet the UCC also affirms the responsibility of the church in each generation and community to make faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.

It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world.  One of the UCC’s distinguishing characteristics is its penchant to believe that God is still speaking, even when it puts us out there alone.  History has shown that, most often, we’re only alone for a while.  Besides, we receive so many gifts from our ecumenical partners, being “early” seems to be one of ours.

The UCC recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion).

The United Church of Christ supports projects working for peach, justice, development, and alleviating human suffering in the United States and in over 80 countries worldwide.

The UCC Logo

United church of christThe symbol of the United Church of Christ comprises a crown, cross and orb enclosed within a double oval bearing the name of the church and the prayer of Jesus, “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).  It is based on an ancient Christian symbol called the “Cross of Victory” or the “Cross Triumphant.” The crown symbolizes the sovereignty of Christ.  The cross recalls the suffering of Christ—his arms outstretched on the wood of the cross – for the salvation of humanity.  The orb, divided into three parts, reminds us of Jesus’ command to be his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  The verse from Scripture reflects our historic commitment to the restoration of unity among the separated churches of Jesus Christ.

Top 10 reasons to check out the UCC 

10. What if church is like spinach …?
You know, like something that you hated as a kid but you love as an adult because you eat it in ways that suit you much better. Guess what? A lot of people are having the same sort of experience with church . . . In the UCC, things are often quite different and worth checking out.

9. Variety…
UCC churches tend to tailor themselves to fit the people they feel called to serve in their local community. The result: A wide variety of musical traditions, expressions and values that have integrity and purpose. From conservative to liberal, we’re not short on variety.

8. No apologies…
You are what you are…and so are we – we like ourselves just fine. Find a church where you will fit in, be nurtured and challenged to grow.

7. No waiting…
You don’t have to join to be active in many UCC churches. If you want to get involved, many of our churches will find a place to help fulfill your need to give – whether or not you decide to join.

6. No boxes
God can blow the lid off any box, unfold it and turn it into a dance floor. We tend to be the “out of the box” people. Among our many firsts, we were the first mainline church to take a stand against slavery (1700), the first to ordain an African American person (1785), the first to ordain a woman (1853), the first in foreign missions (1810), and the first to ordain openly gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons (1972). We value education for all people. We founded Harvard and Yale, as well as many historically black colleges, six of which remain affiliated with the UCC to this day.

5. One God, One Faith, One Baptism for All
When we baptize you into our community, we promise that we will never take it back – no matter what you discover about yourself or what others discover about you along life’s journey. We believe that baptism places each of us into the “body of Christ” and lasts forever. Some are baptized as infants, others as adults. Some are sprinkled. Others are immersed. Some reclaim their baptism from a previous church life. For each of us, however, baptism is big enough, strong enough and cleansing enough to last forever. We believe that everyone – old, young, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, physically or emotionally challenged, rich or poor, sure or unsure, lost or found, Democrat or Republican has a place in the body of Christ. Baptism is like a badge that says, “you’re a full member of the church and no one can take that away from you.”

4. Good News People
We believe that No. 5 is good news!

3. “Party” Church
God is having a party and we are all invited. At God’s party our spiritual hungering is fed and our thirsting is satisfied. At God’s party we get strength, stamina and community support that helps us through the tough times that come to everyone. Feeding our spiritual hunger helps reduce those, “I can’t believe I’m so stupid” moments – but we’ll never eliminate them all. That’s why we need friends and companions and not judges (no offense to judges) for the journey.

2. Spiritual Guidance…
It’s not about commandments. It’s about relationships – even with God. The most important relationship is our relationship with God. Second most important is our relationships with the rest of the human family. In balance, these relationships produce justice amid injustice, kindness in the face of meanness, and the humility of self acceptance that comes as we sense the presence of a God who knows our inmost thoughts and loves us uncontrollably – just as we are. Spiritual journeys can be like the exercise equipment we buy and leave under the bed. Without coaches and workout partners, most of us don’t stick with it. We’re the “Journeys Wanted” people . . . bring yours.

1. We’re waiting for you.

© United Church of Christ

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