The United Church of Christ has partnered with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) since its founding in efforts to end torture and close the prison at Guantanamo. January 6-14th is the National Week of Action to close Guantanamo, and NRCAT is calling on churches to mark this date by organizing or joining events across the country. Learn more and sign up to be a point of contact or to host an event.
Join United Church of Christ General Minister and President Rev. John Dorhauer, author and public theologian Brian McLaren, and 30+ clergy in a National Day of Fasting and Witness on January 18, 2018!
On January 18, 2018, faith leaders from around the country will join together for National Day of Fasting and Witness in protest of Wendy’s executives’ ongoing refusal to join the Fair Food Program.
The fast will take place on the 20th anniversary of the breaking of the 30-day hunger strike undertaken by six workers in 1998, when the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was calling for a dialogue with growers to end poverty and violence in the fields. The hunger strike was finally broken when former President Jimmy Carter and Bishop John Nevins of the Catholic Diocese of Venice intervened, and called upon people to join with farmworkers to bring justice to U.S. agriculture.
Nearly three dozen clergy from Florida to Indiana to California have already answered this January call to fasting and direct action at Wendy’s, including United Church of Christ General Minister and President John Dorhauer and author and public theologian Brian McLaren.
- Learn more about why the UCC has joined the Coalition of Immokolee Workers in their Wendy's Boycott
- Head over to the Alliance for Fair Food's website to read the full call to action
- And, if you are a faith leader who wants to be a part of new era of justice and fairness in our nation’s agricultural industry, sign up to participate today!
** Window: November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017 for coverage beginning January 1, 2018 **
Open Enrollment is the time each year when you can sign up for health insurance if you don’t already have coverage through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or another sort of health coverage. The majority of states are on the federal exchange and use HealthCare.gov. (En español: CuidadoDeSalud.gov.)
The enrollment period is half as long as in previous years and there’s only one deadline, so you must take action by December 15 or risk not having coverage in 2018 and having to pay a penalty.
That means it’s up to all of us to get the facts out.
Here’s what we need people to know: You must take action to sign up for coverage by December 15 for 2018 coverage, and because of financial help, most people can find a plan for $50 to $100 per month. Faith communities can play an important role in healthcare enrollment. Because many faith traditions view healthcare as a right, it is up to faith leaders to encourage their congregations and communities to get covered today.
Here's how you can help:
- Open Enrollment Overview
- Key States and Deadlines
- Faith Language about Healthcare
- How Can I Help My Community Get Covered?
- Facts about Open Enrollment and More
Join the faith leader calls: Throughout November and December Faith Leaders and Members of Congress will offer a series of conference calls to support your enrollment work. RSVP to Tamika.Mason@mail.house.gov. Dial 712-451-0436 with access code 845827 to join on:
- November 6 at 7:30 PM ET
- November 20 at 7:30 PM ET
- December 4 at 7:30 PM ET
- December 11 at 7:30 PM ET
Spread the word on social media: Use #SoulsToEnroll, #Souls2Enroll, and #GetCovered,
Hold a Souls to Enroll Sunday - Starting Sunday, November 12-December 10, dedicate a service to uplifting health care enrollment. Place enrollment info in bulletins, invite someone to your church to speak about ACA, post enrollment to social media pages, hang up a poster, ask congregants to pledge to get covered and more. (You can find ideas and language in the toolkit.)
The victims, survivors and the families impacted by gun violence are often forgotten. Therefore, the Newtown Foundation, in partnership with Faiths United Against Gun Violence, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown Survivor Network, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Organizing for Action, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, St Marks Episcopal Church and Women's March on Washington will host the annual national vigil service of mourning and loving remembrance for all who have fallen victim to the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America on December 6th and nationwide vigils/events from December 6-17th.
- Please complete this form to host a vigil or an event in your town or city and our partners at the Newtown Foundation will send you the 2017 National Vigil Tool Kit to facilitate your planning and to coordinate our collective gun violence prevention message.
- Consider coming to DC to attend the national vigil service to support the families and survivors impacted by gun violence and renew our pledge to fight for gun violence prevention. Please reserve your seat here.
- Direct family members of victims and survivors of gun violence from all 50 states are invited to attend the national vigil service on December 6th at St Marks Episcopal Church. There are travel stipends available. Please forward this registration form to families and survivors who may be interested.
The first Sunday in May has been designated Immigrant Rights Sunday within the United Church of Christ. Justice and Witness Ministries and Wider Church Ministries are urging congregations to lift up immigrants on this day: to learn about their concerns, honor their contributions to our country and communities, hear their pain, pray for their well-being, and listen to hear where God is leading us regarding issues of immigration.
Welcoming the stranger among us as native born is part of our faith tradition, for we too were once strangers (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33, Deuteronomy 10:17-19). However, too often the immigrants among us are rejected, treated as outcasts and placed on the margins of society.
May 1st is international Labor Day and has become a day in which we recognize the value and labor of immigrants in the U.S. On the first Sunday in May, congregations are encouraged to include stories about immigrants in their worship service and explore avenues to advocate for immigrant justice. Below are the most current issues this year on immigration with potential ways to get involved to limit deportations and unnecessary detention of immigrants.
Building Sanctuary For All... All of Us
"Shouldn’t our sanctuaries offer this same kind of Sanctuary...to anyone? Wouldn’t we want this grace, and do we not call upon this kind of love every Sunday?" Read more of Rev. Julian DeShazier's reflection on Immigrants Rights Sunday and intersectionality.
- Explore our worship worship and prayer resources and start planning your congregations Immigrant Rights Sunday observances.
*If your congregation would like to get more involved on immigrants' rights advocacy and organizing efforts please contact Rev. Noel Andersen - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Noel Andersen serves as UCC & CWS Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants' Rights in Washington, D.C.
The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network invites you to highlight mental health on the third Sunday in May or any Sunday that suits your schedule.
We see Mental Health Sunday as a way for your congregation to begin or to continue to provide education and support to your members around mental health challenges.
We encourage you to:
- Plan a Sunday with the theme: "Widen the Welcome: UCC for Mental Health"
- Use the collection of worship resources in the Resource Guide for Mental Health Sunday. You will find some newly created resources in the resource section below. Worship resources include sermon ideas as well as complete sermons, a litany, unison prayers and more.
- Explore the Congregational Toolkits for teaching your congregation about mental illnesses
More Worship Resources for Mental Health Sunday
Download and print these files or edit/format them to meet your needs.
- Checklist for Churches: Becoming a Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged (WISE) Congregation for Mental Health
- Sermon on The Stigma of Mental Illness
- More Resources for Your Mental Health Sunday Services
- Call to worship and prayer
- Litany for Mental Health Sunday, 5.5" x 8.5"
- Bulletin insert (front), 5.5" x 8.5"
- Bulletin insert (back), 5.5" x 8.5"
- Widen the Welcome logo (CMYK, 300 dpi) for use on printed material
- Sample bookmark created by Broadmoor UCC Church in Colorado Springs
- Exegesis: Lamentations 5:19 – 22
World AIDS Day is an important occasion for building awareness and stepping-up our responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our own communities and around the world. Yes, there have been significant medical advances and more people are on treatment than ever before. Still, the scale of response is not meeting the need for treatment, prevention, care and support.
The importance of the whole church engaging in HIV response has never been more critical. As never before, there is a path to ending the epidemic in our lifetime. The implementation of the 27th General Synod's resolution, "Calling for Comprehensive HIV Prevention in Church and Community," is the road map for the UCC, inviting the whole church to be faithful to do all it can.
Health and Human Service Sunday is a special opportunity to create awareness of the health concerns of our communities and world, and to learn about the many and various health and human service ministries of the United Church of Christ. It is observed annually in the United Church of Christ and is an opportunity to talk about health in a holistic way, address the issues of justice in our health care systems and learn about how each of us can become involved.
The resources for observing Health and Human Service are available throughout the year and may be used for the many opportunities congregations and other organizations have for creating awareness of and responding to the health needs of their communities and throughout the world.
A Litany for Diakonal Ministry
Leader: God, our loving creator
People: Make us care enough to trust you.
L: Jesus, friend of all – even the outcasts, the apathetic, all those marginalized
P: Open our eyes to see you in all creation – including the outcasts, the apathetic, all those marginalized.
L: Holy Spirit, God’s fire, make us sharers in the holiness of God
P: Guide us in the direction of those who are vulnerable.
L: God of grace, who creates us into a new community
P: Warm our hearts and souls to love our neighbors as we love you.
L: God of love, you are a wellspring of hope and compassion
P: Give us strength and courage to be a sanctuary to those who are in need of grace and mercy
L: God, our refuge and strength, help our congregations be places of extravagant welcome
P: Help us work tirelessly to make changes in ourselves and in our communities that model a welcoming spirit.
L: Creator God, with your love you support and sustain us.
P: Help us recreate the human community to promote justice and peace for the healing of the earth.
L: O God, pour upon us the precious oil of unity
P: Let us move forward together with one mind and one spirit
L: Almighty God, you have called us to feed the hungry welcome the stranger; shelter the homeless; clothe the naked; and comfort the sick and imprisoned.
P: Help us to remember that we are an extension of Jesus Christ’s ministry in the world. Give us courage to practice diakonia – the ministry of healing, service, care compassion and hospitality.
All: Where the Church is, there is the mission. Where the Church is, there are those who have been called to live “for the sake of the other.” Let the love and grace of God be made visible in our mission in health and human service.
Legacies of Compassion and Human Service
Stories from UCC-related health and human service agencies
- The Rev. Louis Edward Nollau and the founding of Evangelical Children's Home
- Hope Finds a Home at Earl's Place
- United Church Home Society Creates Haven for Homeless Teens
- Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministry Network Harnesses the Power of Story
- Partnership Provides Role Models for Teen Moms
- Volunteers Help Lydia's House Renovate Shelter
- Arcadia Meets Growing Seniors' Needs in Honolulu, Hawaii
- Fowlkes Brings Healing Hand to UCAN
Health and Human Service Sunday Archives
To check-out resources from previous years, click here.
January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States – a day to bring awareness to the world-wide crisis also known as modern day slavery. The 29th General Synod officially recognized the date and called on UCC congregations to be part of the education and advocacy efforts associated with Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
To raise awareness about human trafficking and kick off a year full of justice advocacy and faithful witness, you and your congregation are invited to engage in some of the following ways:
- Download the Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking and find tools for worship and action.
- Contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by calling 1-888-373-7888 or sending a text to BeFree (233733) to report trafficking crimes, connect with local anti-trafficking services, and request training or additional resources. Consider posting these numbers on your church’s bulletin boards and bathroom stalls.
- Find local anti-trafficking organizations to connect with in your area with this directory.
- Incorporate online trainings from the Trafficking Resource Center into your church’s education curriculum and Bible studies.
If you need help or have a tip, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government. In an emergency, call 911.
You can share information about the National Human Trafficking Resources Center Hotline by printing out this flyer and posting it on your church bulletin board.
With the start of 2016 we have welcomed two new leaders to our UCC Justice & Witness Ministries Team. It is our great pleasure to introduce you to the Rev. Traci D. Blackmon as acting Executive Minister and Quan Williams as our UCC Advocate for Domestic Policy.