July 31, 2007
Written by Daniel Hazard

Ages-old outrage rages

How can we convince our churches of the importance of using the words "United Church of Christ" in their names?

No matter how much good the Stillspeaking Initiative has done and continues to do, it's an uphill battle if the person on the street doesn't know that the "Congregational" or "Community" or "Union" church down the way is a United Church of Christ congregation. Why do we seem to make it harder for people to make the connection?

I shake my head at the many times I see in print or hear on the air something positive about one of our churches but the words "United Church of Christ" are not mentioned.

I am frustrated when 100 T-shirts are created for volunteers at the Florida Conference annual meeting and nowhere does it say "United Church of Christ," a lost opportunity to have 100 walking billboards for our denomination.

I am dismayed when UCC member and Synod speaker Marilynne Robinson is interviewed in a national publication and she identifies herself as a member of a "Congregational" church, or when the Rev. Donna Schaper is on NPR but is identified only as pastor of "Judson Memorial Church," with no mention of the UCC.

A prominent woman is one of our local churches recently passed away and her obituary said she was a member of the "United Church of God." We can't seem to win, even in death.

I am passionate about the UCC and only wish others can come to know it as I have.

Rick Carson
Pass-a-Grille Beach Community UCC
Pass-a-Grille, Fla.

Editor's Reply: As a matter of style, United Church News has a longstanding policy of including "UCC" in names of all churches. "First Congregational Church," therefore, becomes "First Congregational UCC." If the word "church" is essential to the history of the congregation, such as "Church on the Green," then we'll oblige, sort of. It simply becomes "Church on the Green UCC."

Following the 1957 union, most former Evangelical and Reformed congregations were far more willing to change their church names completely, but former Congregationalists were less obliged to do so. Consequently, the ages-old battle still enrages many. One member of a former Reformed congregation regularly tabulates in each issue of this newspaper how many times "Reformed" is mentioned as opposed to "Congregational." He's not happy. 

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