Dear members and friends:
The United Church of Christ needs your help by taking a stand for freedom of speech.
As you no doubt have heard through media reports, the Internal Revenue Service has launched an investigation of the United Church of Christ, based on our invitation to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama - a longtime member of the UCC - to speak at our 50th Anniversary General Synod in Hartford, Connecticut this past June.
The UCC took great care to ensure that Senator Obama's appearance met appropriate legal and moral standards. We are confident that, in the end, the IRS investigation will confirm that no laws were violated.
However, in order to adequately defend ourselves as well as protect the broader principle of the freedom of religious communities to entertain questions of faith and public life, we will need to secure expert legal counsel, and the cost of this defense, we are told, could approach or exceed six figures. This is troubling news. That's why we are turning to you - our members and supporters - to ask for your financial support to help offset these unforeseen legal expenses.
Each year, generous UCC members contribute faithfully to "Our Church's Wider Mission," our shared fund for mission and ministry in our conferences, nationally, and globally. We seek your contributions to ensure that money given for mission will not be needed to pay legal bills, instead of ministry needs. Thus the reason we've created a new UCC Legal Fund to help keep to a minimum the impact of this investigation on OCWM funds.
Will you make a contribution to the UCC Legal Fund today?
News of this IRS investigation is disturbing, because it has a chilling effect on every religious community when an invitation to an elected public official to speak to the national meeting of his own church family is called into question.
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
P.S. Read more online about the IRS investigation in United Church News.