Video message from Faithful and Welcoming Churches embraces the 'united' mantra of the United Church of Christ
Written by Connie Larkman
May 24, 2012

They are congregations that may not embrace all things UCC, but they love being part of the denomination, and are committed to staying.  That is the primary message behind "Why We Stay," a short video of testimonials from members of the Faithful and Welcoming Churches (FWC).

Members of FWC generally describe themselves as one or more of the following: evangelical, conservative, orthodox, or traditional (ECOT).   What the churches have in common –– all advocate for a point of view often "underrepresented and misunderstood" in the UCC, said the Rev. Bob Thompson, pastor of Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, N.C., and president of Faithful and Welcoming Churches.

"We're UCC, but our way of understanding and expressing our faith is distinctively different than what we hear coming out of General Synod or Cleveland," Thompson said.

The Faithful and Welcoming group came into existence in 2005 after the General Synod vote affirming equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.  Some of the 79 churches which are formally identified with FWC, and listed on the website protested that decision. The group's website points to "the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God's gift for marriage between a man and a woman."

"FWC wants to be able to protest and disagree [about the issues that divide them from the wider church] in a constructive, and engaged way, because they don't want to leave the UCC," said Thompson.

FWC members say they are called to the founding vision of the United Church of Christ. Thompson pointed out that the UCC emerged from the ecumenical movement's passion for living out the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 –– the visible unity of the church that the world may believe.

"Over the years, our calling to stay in the UCC has become more about a desire to resist the trend of separatism, even over issues we find very important," said Thompson. "And we do find the issues of biblical authority, Trinitarian language, and sexual purity profoundly important. But we want to be a visible example of those who stay in a place that is uncomfortable because of a desire to live out Jesus' prayer [that they may all be one.]"

In the video, FWC member Linda Thompson says, "One reason that I stay in the UCC is that I believe I need them –– I need the broader picture. I've learned to love and appreciate people who differ with me."

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Ms. Connie N. Larkman
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