The Executive Council of the United Church of Christ is sending to General Synod a resolution to strengthen the ecumenical relationship between the UCC and the United Church of Canada. The resolution aims to build upon a partnership initiated in 2012 and will be considered during this week's gathering, taking place June 28-July 2 in Long Beach, Calif.
"The United Church of Canada is geographically the closest united and uniting church to the United Church of Christ," the resolution states. "With similar history and common historical strands, as well as a commitment to justice, the two denominations easily identified common tables at which they sit, even though there has never been the occasion for gathering to talk about ways in which both UCCs can work together."
The 2013 resolution recognizes the new ecumenical relationship between the UCC and the United Church of Canada. It also calls for the formation of the United Church Ecumenical Partnership Committee, which would include 10 people – five from each denomination – to bring recommendations for further steps toward visible unity to the next General Synod in 2015.
The UCC and the United Church of Canada began a formal conversation in April 2012, when the UCC made a historical visit to the United Church of Canada's offices in Toronto. The two denominations met again in April 2013 when representatives from the United Church of Canada visited the UCC's National Offices in Cleveland. The primary outcome of the April 2013 meeting was to move beyond the conversations and explore a deeper ecumenical relationship.
The resolution identifies many commonalities between the UCC and the United Church of Canada. Both denominations are united and uniting churches with multiple denominational streams that identify them and shape their Christian self-understanding. Both have a common commitment to the visible unity of the church of Jesus Christ and to the one ecumenical movement, and both the UCC and the United Church of Canada have a common congregational and reformed heritage and witness to mission, worship, theological conversation, and commitment to justice.
"Both denominations know already that our churches share a strong commitment to justice and peace," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC's general minister and president. "Now, we want to build on that foundation and together find new ways to engage in God's mission on this continent and throughout the world."
The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, ministering to nearly 3 million people in more than 3,500 congregations throughout the country. The United Church was inaugurated on June 10, 1925 in Toronto, Ontario, when the Methodist Church, Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada, and 70 percent of the Presbyterian Church of Canada entered into an organic union. The small General Council of Union Churches, centered largely in Western Canada, also joined.