Written by Connie Larkman
To follow God's call to build a just world for all as a united church, United Church of Christ General Minister and President John C. Dorhauer is calling the entire denomination to pull together under a new, shared mission — the Three Great Loves initiative.
"What is Three Great Loves? It is a call to the love of children, to the love of neighbor, and to the love of creation," Dorhauer told the gathering on Saturday morning, July 1. "During the next biennium, we want to discover what an entire denomination committed to Three Great Loves can do to change the world."
Launching today at General Synod and continuing until the 2019 gathering in Milwaukee, Three Great Loves seeks to build on and amplify the sacred work UCC churches are already doing in their communities to care for children, reach out in welcome to their neighbors, and act as good stewards of the earth and all creation. Dorhauer invited participation around this shared mission, urging congregations and other ministerial settings to explore new ways to embrace those commitments with a clear intent and shared purpose in a dedicated call to action over the next two years.
"There will be three significant requests of you: three occasions in which we invite us all to participate as one in a collective effort," Dorhauer said. "Each of the Three Great Loves will have a dedicated call to action with three components: an invitation to give, an invitation to act, an invitation to connect."
He outlined three initiatives — in the winter of 2017, a denomination-wide drive to provide basic human needs items to shelters housing refugees or the homeless; next fall 2018, there will be a denomination-wide school supplies drive to address inequalities in our education systems, and at Synod in 2019, a sponsored 5K walk to raise money and awareness for the earth.
Over the course of the two years, on the Three Great Loves website, the national setting will be collecting stories from commitments to the love of children, the love of neighbor, the love of creation, and how those ministries have had an impact. The UCC is also looking to lift up Three Great Loves Heroes, and will be taking nominations, looking for members who have made a difference in the world.
"Our hope is to be able to document 50 percent congregational participation by Synod 2019; to collect 3,000 stories from across the denomination about how we are building a Just World for All through love of children, love of neighbor, and love of creation; to collect 100 stories from other covenant partners, like our CHHSM agencies; and we want to name 300 Three Great Loves Heroes, asking you to nominate somebody who is working to care for children, for neighbor, and for creation."
He urged Synod participants to get started on this mission today, signing up in the exhibit hall to be part of the Three Great Loves online community.
"Three Great Loves is an invitation to act as one and to deepen our impact by pulling together in love, for justice, and with purpose," Dorhauer said "As disciples of the Risen Christ, we call ourselves to embody love and incarnate justice."
"Hey, United Church of Christ. The Holy Spirit is relying on you, and envisions a future in which you matter."