Written by Connie Larkman
The United Church of Christ has launched a new nine-month contest, inviting UCC congregations across the denomination living out the values in the "Be the Church" statements to participate in "Be the Church of the Month."
The nine statements, phrases in the UCC's popular "Be the Church" banner, reflect the UCC's mission of extravagant welcome. Each month, the contest focuses on a different statement, and encourages congregations to share –– in emailed text, photos and video –– what they are doing in their communities to put these statements into practice.
Protect the environment. Care for the poor. Forgive often. Reject racism. Fight for the powerless. Share earthly and spiritual resources. Embrace diversity. Love God. Enjoy this life.
"It was clear from the start that 'Be the Church' was striking a chord with our local churches," says Tina Villa, director of Publishing, Identity, and Communication. "So many of our churches already live out this message and do amazing things. We hope this contest will be an opportunity for them to share what they're doing and be an inspiration to other churches."
On June 1, churches should have received an email announcing the contest, along with the first "Be the Church" statement for June, which is "Protect the environment." Congregations have only three weeks to enter, submitting supporting information and accompanying photos and/or video illustrating what they're doing (or have done already) to make that statement a reality.
The church selected as the winner will be named the UCC "Be the Church of the Month" for July. The contest will repeat monthly, with a different value statement each time. Each winning church and its accomplishments will be the focus of a United Church News story on UCC.org, featured on UCC social media, and will collect a prize from the UCC Resources "Be the Church" collection. Entries need to be received by the 22nd of each month, and the winner will be announced shortly after the deadline.
When the contest details were posted on the UCC Facebook page, there was an immediate response, with hundreds of shares and likes from interested individuals, including comments sharing accomplishments of their churches in regard to the "Be the Church" statements. To be considered for the contest, all entries must be sent to the contest coordinator at the UCC national offices. Additional details can also be found on the www.ucc.org/be_the_church page.
"Be the Church" –– a simple but effective identity banner –– was created in 2014 when Marchaé Grair and Steve Liechty of the UCC's Publishing, Identity and Communication team were creating graphics for the denomination's Facebook page. When the message appeared as a Facebook cover photo, several churches called UCC Resources to ask if the message graphic was available as a bumper sticker or a banner.