Written by Bennett Guess
The UCC is employing the use of a full-page ad in the April 2 edition of The New York Times to help tell the broader story of the denomination.
Found on page 11 in the main section, the broadsheet statement acknowledges the hurt that many in our country have experienced in recent weeks, including members of Trinity UCC in Chicago. It also speaks to the uniqueness of the UCC's polity, whereby decision-making rests within each congregation. The ad also affirms the UCC's commitment to members' individual conscience and speaks to ways that the UCC, throughout its history, has been a "risk-taking church."
"People are looking at the UCC like they never have before, and that's why it's critical that we respond proactively and tell our church's story," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president. "Otherwise, we will let others continue to define us in narrow and distorted ways."
An online campaign to raise $120,000 to purchase the ad began on March 27. In less than a week, UCC members, churches and Conferences had gathered enough money to pay for the ad.
The New York Times was chosen, Thomas said, because it is widely considered to be the national newspaper of record.
"We wanted to reach out to opinion makers, and The New York Times is consistently considered the best way to reach this audience," Thomas said. "We sought the advice of many, and several public relations experts insisted that the Times was the venue for this type of statement."
However, The New York Times is not the only place where the message will be printed.
On April 3, the same full-page ad also will run in the Falls Church News Press in northern Virginia, thanks to a generous contribution of a UCC member there. In addition, churches, Associations and Conferences are encouraged to run the ad in local and regional papers. A high-resolution version is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (Newspapers can assist in resizing and reformatting the ad to fit their specifications.)
Also, on April 1, Thomas circulated an email message to members and supporters announcing a call for additional contributions for the Tell Our Story Fund in order to place another full-page ad, this time in USA Today.
Although a specific date for the USA Today ad has not been finalized, church leaders hope to raise enough money to place an invitation to the nation to join in a "sacred conversation" about race in the United States.
Thomas is scheduled to join the Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity UCC, and the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, at an April 3 press conference to initiate the call to the nation.
Click here to make gifts to the UCC's Tell Our Story Fund.