Written by Anthony Moujaes
When the United Church of Christ was formed in 1957, it was done with the efforts of people like the Rev. Roger L. Shinn, who died this last week. He was 96. Shinn helped write the UCC Statement of Faith that guided the denomination into a unified entity from Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed traditions.
Shinn, a longstanding minister in the UCC, was the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics for 26 years at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he earned his bachelor's degree in divinity before joining the Army. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University.
"We celebrate the life and ministry of the Rev. Roger Shinn. The wisdom, creativity and theological reflection that went into his creation of the UCC's Statement of Faith continues to be a foundation of the denomination that still resonates with us today," said UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black. "Our thoughts and prayer are with his family, loved ones and those who called him 'friend.'"
Shinn taught at Union Theological from 1947 through 1949, and again from 1959 to 1985. He was also Adjunct Professor of Religion and Society at Columbia University from 1962 to 1986, and taught at a number of other institutions while still at Union and after he retired. He also had been president of the American Theological Society and the Society of Christian Ethics.
Shinn is survived by his wife Katharine, whom he married in 1943, and their daughters and families.
Shinn always stressed that the UCC Statement of Faith was never to be considered a "test" of our orthodoxy, but rather a "joyful testimony" to how God has touched our lives. His final draft came before the General Synod in 1959, and was adopted as the church's Statement of Faith.