For Congregations considering ministry with the United Church of Christ

Shared Congregational Ministry

For congregations of different denominations which are considering linking or sharing some programming or staff, these documents can introduce you to some of the issues and options. GEMS  (God's Ecumenical Ministry Shared) is for churches of different denominations considering shared ministry. Getting Together: Models and Processes for Local Church Cooperation  describes five different models to consider (Yoked, Cluster, Federated, Union and Consolidated) and some characteristics and ways of collaborating.

Exploring Denominational Affiliation with the United Church of Christ

Is your congregation interested in exploring and developing a deeper partnership with a denomination?  As a “United and Uniting” denomination with congregations of many different backgrounds, we contain a rich diversity and welcome conversation.  If you are already affiliated with a denomination, the first step is to contact the local judicatory office of the denomination in which you currently hold membership.  In this way we keep faith with our ecumenical partners, even as we respond to your inquiry to form a new affiliation.  Depending on the area you may relate to a United Church of Christ Conference, or an Association. A first contact with the Conference Minister in your area will put you in touch with those who will engage you in the process of exploration.  Find your conference contact here.

In the United Church of Christ there is an emphasis on the covenantal relationship between parts of the church, and congregations who are in conversation about joining the  UCC go through a gradual process of covenant formation. While specific practices vary, a general outline of the process includes up to three phases:

  • The first stage is a preliminary exploration, an introductory acquaintance, which helps a church and Association decide if there is a likelihood for establishing a formal relationship.
  •  If both feel that there is a likelihood of covenant, they will agree to develop that covenant together. As with all relationships, it will take time and a wealth of shared experiences to help this covenant fully develop.
  • Should the development stage conclude with a request for standing, in all likelihood the final stage will be an affirmation of covenant for both parties.

Whether or not a congregation eventually seeks and is granted standing in the United Church of Christ, this exploration and development of covenantal relations can result in richer, deeper ecumenical partnerships.

This booklet contains a more detailed description of this process.   

Considering a New Church Covenant in the United Church of Christ: A Process for Exploring, Developing, and Affirming New Relationships [PDF]
This booklet describes a process of mutual exploration which will help a non-affiliated church explore the United Church of Christ along with a UCC Association. The goal of the exploration process is to decide whether to enter into a formal covenanted relationship.

 "The gifts Christ gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." - Ephesians 4:11-12

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Rev. Holly MillerShank
Team Leader, Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3881
millershankh@ucc.org