Devotional Subject: Worship

Devotional Subject: Worship

One Great Hour of Sharing Resources

One Great Hour of Sharing® is the Lenten Offering of the United Church of Christ that supports disaster, refugee, and development activities.  The suggested offering date for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is March 11,2018. Click donate to give securely online or mail your gift today to: One Great Hour of Sharing - United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship (OPS) 2nd Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.


2018 OGHS Resources


2018 Leaders' Guide



Additional interpretive resources are available at United Church of Christ Resources. To order, call toll free 1-800-325-7061, order on-line at or email your orders to

Available resources include:

Bulletin Inserts (Free)
Coin Boxes ($.10 per box)   
Offering Envelopes (Free)
Posters - English or Spanish (Free)

Make your gift through your local United Church of Christ congregation. Gifts go through your Conference for record keeping, and then arrive at the United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship - 2nd Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.  Gifts may also be made by clicking here to donate. Please give generously!  Thank you.

Sign-up for OGHS Updates to receive short stories on how your gifts to the offering changes lives. 

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2017 OGHS Offering Resources



OGHS Stories! 

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2017 OGHS Leaders' Guide

2016 Annual Mission Report





2016 OGHS Offering Resources

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Sermon Starter

Weekly Preaching Notes from Lectionary

Bulletin Insert

Moment for Mission

Children's Sermons


 2015 Offering Resources

The Planning and Resource Guide and 2014 Annual Mission Report are available in electronic or print versions:




 To find other stories that help share the message of how One Great Hour of Sharing transforms life, visit:

Other available resources:

Sermon Starter

Worship Resources

Mission Minutes

Childrens Sermons


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Ash Wednesday

Let this day, this Ash Wednesday, be a day for fewer words all day long. Let it be a day for some stillness, for paying quiet attention to mystery, to beauty, to the sacred.

Non-Verbal Communication

Dr. Fred Craddock, my homiletics professor in seminary, used to tell us often: "Preach Christ. Use words if you have to."

Spiritual but Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me.

On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is "spiritual but not religious." Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.

Wisdom Calls (Trinity Sunday)

Julie Polter's elegant words perhaps say it best, that "this is the truth of God: all creation is one holy web of relationships, and gifts meant for all; that creation vibrates with the pain of all its parts, because its true destiny is joy."


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Advent (from Latin, adventus, meaning "coming towards") is a four-week season of preparation for Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent (November 30) marks the beginning of the church's year.

Advent and Christmas focus both on the past--the coming of Jesus as an infant born into poverty in Bethlehem, and the future--the coming of Christ in glory to fulfill God's loving purposes for humanity. This past and future orientation is reflected in the readings appointed in the church for each Sunday of Advent.

Advent this year comes at a time of anxiety and hope. Many of us are struggling and are afraid for our future. It's not easy to hope when times are bad. Mary, as she waited for the birth of her child into an uncertain world, knew how to live with hope--to believe the promises of God. So Advent is a time when we wait, with Mary, for the birth of new life into a world living in the shadows of death.


(Brought to you in part by OCWM)


Gifts From the Heart


Interactive Resources


Suggested Hymns - Year C

Year C - 2009 


"These accompaniments, played on gorgeous instruments by gifted artists, will not only meet the needs of congregations currently without a resident musician, they will also creatively enhance many other ministries and programs of the church…I remember, for example, my home communion visits as a pastor. How wonderful it would have been to take with me the cherished music of the church that had always been such an important part of their life.” --John Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Hymn numbers and titles are from the The New Century Hymnal

Sunday, November 29
First Sunday of Advent

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Sign of Things to Come

The New Century Hymnal
See “Advent” 101-123

345 – Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
35 – O Mighty God, When I Survey in Wonder
103 – Watcher Tell Us of the Night
112 – Keep Awake, Be Always Ready
609 – Now is the Time Approaching

Sunday, December 6
Second Sunday of Advent

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Make Ready

The New Century Hymnal
Page 733 – Canticle of Zechariah
110 – Now Bless the God of Israel
115 – The Baptist Shouts on Jordan’s Shore
120 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness
121 – Toda la Tierra
43 – Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Page 740 – O Wisdom, Breathed from God

Sunday, December 13
Third Sunday of Advent

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Look Forward

The New Century Hymnal
586 – Come to Tend God’s Garden
404 – Give Up Your Anxious Pains
88 – Pero Queda Christo
55, 71 – Rejoice, You Pure in Heart
506 – What a Friend We Have in Jesus
109 – With Joy Draw Water

Sunday, December 20
Fourth Sunday of Advent

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Moving With Mary's Song

The New Century Hymnal
Page 732 – Canticle of Mary
123 – Mary, Woman of the Promise
15 – My Heart is Overflowing
106 – My Heart Sings Out with Joyful Praise
119 – My Soul Gives Glory to My God
122 – Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
113 – Little Bethlehem of Judah
133 – O Little Town of Bethlehem

Suggested Hymns - Year C

Epiphany / Year C - 2010


"These accompaniments, played on gorgeous instruments by gifted artists, will not only meet the needs of congregations currently without a resident musician, they will also creatively enhance many other ministries and programs of the church…I remember, for example, my home communion visits as a pastor. How wonderful it would have been to take with me the cherished music of the church that had always been such an important part of their life.” --John Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Hymn numbers and titles are from
The New Century Hymnal

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The New Century Hymnal
See “Epiphany” 154-166

Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Baptism of Christ/Baptism of Jesus – First Sunday after Epiphany – First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Affirmed by Love

The New Century Hymnal
167 – Mark How the Lamb of God’s Self-Offering
285 – O Holy Dove of God Descending
169 – What Ruler Wades through Murky Streams
82 – Go, My Children, with My Blessing
354 – God, When I Came into This Life
407 – How Firm a Foundation

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Second Sunday after Epiphany – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Extravagant Sign

The New Century Hymnal
50 – I Sing the Praise of Love Almighty
177 – God of Change and Glory
163 – Many are the Lightbeams
459 – Come, O Fount of Every Blessing
1 – Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Date: January 24, 2010
Third Sunday after Epiphany – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seasons of the Spirit Theme:  Good News, Good Ways

The New Century Hymnal
154 – Go Tell It on the Mountain
584 – I Am the Light of the World
273 – Praise with Joy the World’s Creator
177 – God of Change and Glory
394, 395 – In Christ There is No East or West
163 – Many Are the Lightbeams
401 – O God in Whom All Life Begins

Date:  January 31, 2010
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seasons of the Spirit Theme:  Prophet on the Edge

The New Century Hymnal
161 – Amen, Amen
496 – Ekolu Mea Nui
61 – Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost
461 – Let Us Hope when Hope Seems Hopeless
411 – Praise the Source of Faith and Learning
540 – We Plant a Grain of Mustard Seed

to be continued

Inclusive Language

Inclusive and Expansive Language in the United Church of Christ

Download PDF of Brochure on Expansive and Inclusive Language
This brochure is designed to be printed on 8 1/2" x 14" paper stock

Printed copies available
Order item WE101

*NEW* Words Matter - Volunteer to test the impact ofinclusive language in your congregation.

The Eleventh General Synod instructed that a Book of Worship be developed and characterized by language that is truly inclusive with respect to God and to people. Although the generic use of masculine terms has been accepted practice, it is exclusive and viewed as offensive by many. Further, the use of only masculine nouns and pronouns for God and of masculine generic terms for humankind has hidden the rich feminine imagery for God and God's people in scripture. Scripture contains many gender neutral metaphors for God such as shepherd, rock, or Holy One. The rediscovery of the complementary female and male metaphors in the Bible and the literature of the early church encourages Christians not to settle for literary poverty in the midst of literary riches.

Inclusive language is far more than an aesthetic matter of male and female imagery; it is a fundamental issue of social justice.  Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic background, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions.  It shows respect for all people.  Scripture proclaims the world is created, redeemed, and sustained by the Word of God, and the church attests to the power of language and words, recognizing that words have the power to exploit and exclude as well as affirm and liberate.

Expansive Language with Reference to God

Inclusive Language with Reference to the People

The Witness of General Synod

Inclusive Language Covenant

UCC Inclusive Language Resources

Beyond the words we use or speak, this concern [expansive language] recognizes the power of language to shape, if not create, reality and to structure relationships, whether in the church or in the world. Exclusive language limits our perceptions of reality and thereby distorts. Thus, inclusive language has implications for the way we perceive God, things, and concepts, as well as persons. 

Reuben A. Sheares, II
UCC Office for Church Life and Leadership

Across the UCC: World Communion Sunday

Across UCC, churches approach Eucharist with diverse traditions, meaningful practices

World Communion Sunday may come and go without much fanfare, foregoing celebrity hype and lacking attention-grabbing scandal.

But in an increasing globalized world, where differences can be divisive, sharing in the elements of the Lord's Supper is the quiet constant that unites believers of Christ — that grace, redemption and healing are afforded through the simple sharing of sacred bread and cup.

On Oct. 7, congregations across the UCC and countless other denominations will celebrate Holy Communion. For some it will be a somber occasion. For others, the elements will be received joyfully.

Sue Blain, the UCC's minister for worship, reflecting on the myriad of different ways that Holy Communion is celebrated, shared and distributed among Christians, says, "I think the ideal would be for folks to experience communion in a variety of different ways."

Blain says that when communion is served in the pews, it symbolizes God coming among the people, feeding them. "But having to make a choice to move forward has another level of commitment in some respects," she says. "Both are true, both are valid," says Blain. "I think we could experience all of that and be enriched spiritually."

At UCC's Cathedral of Hope, communion is weekly highpoint

Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, Texas, regards itself as the largest liberal Christian church in the world with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Each week, at Sunday morning services and a Wednesday night contemporary worship, communion is celebrated.

The Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope UCC, says the decision to serve communion each week came from both practical and spiritual reasons.

"Nobody grew up in this congregation," explains Hudson, who says that the 37-year-old congregation is comprised largely of transplants from the Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist traditions. "For those who come out of a tradition where communion, or the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist is served every week, that's essential to their worship life."

"I think this church also needed that sacrament of grace in a way many churches might not have felt that need," Hudson says. "This congregation suffered greatly during the AIDS crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It had close to 1,500 people die of AIDS. [Communion] became an important part of the healing of the congregation."

Hudson describes communion as being a high point of each worship service.

"The emphasis is on celebration of the feast, the joy of receiving, and the hope contained within that," she says. "Some of the older liturgies are more focused on sin and repenting. Not that we don't recognize that sin exists, but we interpret the sacrament as an act of grace that is designed to bring hope, peace and reconciliation to people."

Having communion each week has become so central that Hudson feels its importance in worship is as a response to God's Word.

"The sacred moment of that sacrament is so powerful, in terms of helping people heal," she says. "It offers grace. We're so committed to the notion that 'Everyone is welcome to the table.' We want to demonstrate that every single week."

Join Cathedral of Hope UCC for worship online at

Disciples/UCC local churches prompt examination of communion 'frequency'

First Congregational UCC in San Jose, Calif., has a long-standing relationship with the United Disciples Fellowship, a congregation of the Disciples of Christ. The two faith communities share facilities and worship, but both keep true to their own denomination's interpretations.

The Rev. Nathan A. Miller says that the relationship between the two churches can sometimes seem confusing to outsiders, but says the partnership has worked seamlessly.

"[The UDF] resembles a house church," explains Miller, who shares his ministerial responsibilities with his associate, the Rev. Nancy C. Peters.

"They meet on the first Saturday of every month in someone's home. They have a worship time, a program time, and a business meeting time. Part of their worship time is always the sacrament of communion, in keeping with the Disciples tradition."

Each Sunday, both congregations share in a common worship service, and the church has found a way to honor the Disciples' tradition of weekly communion, even though the UCC congregation traditionally celebrates the Lord's Supper just once a month.

"At the close of the organ postlude — we're very careful not to say 'at the close of worship' because this is a continuation of worship — people have already been invited to come forward to communion if they wish," says Miller. The UDF furnishes the bread and wine, and communion is served by intinction up around the communion table in the chancel. All are welcome, and Miller says that besides the UDF members, many visitors and UCC members will also take part in the sacrament.

Miller admiringly describes the UDF congregation as "an empowered bunch" and says its members are very theologically astute.

While Peters is a member of UDF, Miller is not. Still, Miller says the UDF is very gracious in welcoming him to events, but says, "they are really self-sufficient in all the positive ways." And the UCC congregation has benefited greatly from the special interest the UDF has taken in sponsoring adult education events, such as a lectureship series.

Miller says while worship style between UCC and Disciples of Christ communities are very similar, the two sacraments — communion and baptism — are viewed quite differently.

"We understand the act of communion much the same, but the frequency hardly matches any UCC church," he says. As for baptism, Miller says, "The Disciples of Christ tradition practices adult baptism, which is a practice of the UCC, but infrequent. And the Disciples immerse."

While serving a church in Mesa, Ariz., Miller remembers his church, a union between Disciples of Christ and UCC, sprinkled the UCC babies and immersed the Disciples young teens and adults. "We'd roll in a tank and fill it up with a hose—it took a day to do it—and there was a heater so that the water wasn't too cold!"

These differences, Miller says, have never gotten in the way. On World Communion Sunday, the UDF members will lead the entire worship, serving communion in the joint worship service with First Congregational UCC in San Jose, and both congregations will partake in the elements, united in Christ.

"Our UCC people only see enhancement of our ministry," says Miller, "and I think the Disciples group sees only enhancement to their ministry. It's just part of who we are."

Sacramental Surplus

Pastor: Holy Communion calls us to universal solidarity

"There's a surplus of meaning in the sacrament, and we don't want to nail it down to one thing," says the Rev. Mary Luti, one of the pastors at First Church in Cambridge (Mass.) UCC.

Luti says her congregation celebrates communion once monthly at the morning worship, besides special feast days. A Sunday afternoon service featuring gospel and jazz music serves weekly communion.

Luti feels there is a renewed interest in ritual action across the UCC, not only in the sacrament of communion, but also healing and anointing.

"It's a positive development," she says. "It recovers some of the most ancient traditions of the church that are neither Catholic nor Protestant. They are simply practices that help our bodies and our minds."

To Luti, making sure the communion service never loses its edge is the key to making the ritual meaningful and thought-provoking.

"Very often we repeat the line, 'Jesus sat down to supper with the one who would betray him and the one who would deny him.' That line refers to Judas and Peter," she says.

"There is a challenge there. How do we sit with our enemies? How do we sit with the people we don't agree with, or who don't love us?"

"On World Communion Sunday, a lot of churches are rediscovering the universal aspect of our communion," says Luti. "These rituals are among the ways we show forth and also ground our solidarity with people all over the world."

For Luti, communion has a meaning that transcends time and place. "During communion," she says, "we really link up with the church as it has been, as it is now, and as it will be … we look forward to the day when everyone will be fed around this table with equal joy and equal justice."