Nearly 200 people turned out for the UCC's National Evangelism Gathering held April 9-11 in Louisville, Ky. Using the "e-word" reference as a theme, the convention included workshops and presentations about what evangelism means, across ecumenical lines and within the UCC. Many persons spoke about the baggage that the "e-word" carries with it, but conversation about the importance of evangelism in the various justice missions of the UCC dominated the conference.
"It was striking to see the easy relationship between evangelism and justice concerns that permeated the conference," says the Rev. Robert Chase, Team Leader for Proclamation, Identity and Communication. "Far too often, the church has suffered under the misconception that these two elements of the Gospel were somehow mutually exclusive. The harmony with which these two themes were in evidence at the meeting went a long way toward dispelling that myth."
Some of the topics discussed included "Justice and Witness Evangelism," "Multicultural/Multiracial Mergers" and "God is Still Speaking," where Public Relations and Marketing Manager Ron Buford unveiled the UCC's new identity emphasis materials and the new website www.stillspeaking.com.
"The Evangelism Gathering was a chance for discussion on how we 'bubble up' that evangelism spirit," says the Rev. David Schoen, Team Leader for Evangelism Ministry. "Now the real work of the gathering and our partnership begins as we step into God's future for the United Church of Christ to increase our passion, priority and program for evangelism."