In 2011, the United Church of Christ's General Synod (our governing body) overwhelmingly passed a "resolution of witness" entitled, "Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity." The resolution focused on discrimination, violence, and abuse in "contexts where such abuse is not prohibited by law but rather legally, politically, socially, and even religiously sanctioned."
This resolution affirmed an action of General Synod from more than 30 years ago: "A Pronouncement: Civil Liberties without Discrimination Related to Affectional or Sexual Preference," which stated: "In faithfulness to the biblical and historic mandate, we hold that, as a child of God, every person is endowed with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside." It also was in keeping with several other resolutions passed by the General Synod supporting the rights of LGBT persons.
The 2011 resolution also declared support for the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The Principles were created by a group of international human rights experts in response to well-documented patterns of abuse.
The United Church of Christ's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) asks, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) Its economic justice work encompasses an array of issues related to unemployment and workplace justice in the U.S. and overseas.
From sweatshop labor, low-wage work, and labor unions to globalization, and international trade and investment, JWM provides sound, up-to-date information for church members and congregations who want to learn about issues and take action. JWM's Washington, D.C. office gives voice to our values with regular visits to Capitol Hill to pray and advocate for a just economy. Speaking of Washington, D.C., don't forget that you have a voice this year: see Justice and Witness Ministries' "Our Faith, Our Vote, Our Voice" campaign.
In Egypt: Giving Thanks to God and Garbage
The United Church of Christ's presence in the Middle East is part of our Common Global Ministries, work we do together with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). With more than 270 partner churches and organizations in about 70 countries around the world, the mission of Global Ministries is to provide a "Critical Presence" through ministries of acompañamiento (walking side by side).
With international partners ranging from autonomous churches historically related to the Disciples and the UCC to indigenous churches, schools, healthcare institutions and sustainable development organizations, the priorities of Global Ministries are to meet God's people and creation at the point of deepest need: spiritually, physically, emotionally, and/or economically. All photos courtesy of Deborah J. and W. Evan Golder.
The Healing Power of Art
Programs like Artwell live the United Church of Christ's core values of continuing testament, extravagant welcome, and changing lives. Central to each value is our belief that God is still speaking. Our call is to tell this good news in as many creative ways as possible — so that all who seek the healing love of Jesus Christ can hear.
Continuing testament: the old biblical story is new again, with each re-telling for a new day and a new audience. Extravagant welcome: we strive to welcome all, with words and worship that speak to people no matter who they are or where they are on life's journey. Changing lives: as people hear and believe that God did not stop speaking at the end of the Bible ... their own lives are changed, and their commitment changes the lives of others.
2011 Annual Report
For more than five decades, the United Church of Christ has come together as one church to join faith with action - one church that serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world. In 2011, we came together in our local churches and communities, throughout our Associations and Conferences, and across the country to serve together in ways we could not alone.
Together, as a distinct and diverse community of Christians, we extended an extravagant welcome to thousands more this past year. We continued on our journey to make religion relevant again through God’s continuing testament - from Sunday worship in Chicago to missionary work in Mozambique, and from General Synod 28 in Tampa to the stairs of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. And through the message and mission of our Stillspeaking God, we change lives.
This Spring/Summer 2012 issue of StillSpeaking magazine brings you a compelling mix of stories and photos about “the least of these”—a selected look from a UCC perspective, including a message from General Minister and President Geoffrey Black, at contemporary people, places, and issues that recall Jesus’ words: “As you did it to the least of these . . . you did it to me.”
Featured in this issue are: “LGBT Lifeline,” the story of a Massachusetts church and its ministry with LGBT people seeking asylum in the U.S., “In Egypt: Giving Thanks to God and Garbage,” a fascinating look at the people and economy of Menshayat Nasr, Cairo’s “Garbage City,” along with a photo essay on immigration from the American Southwest, a profile of a successful church/arts program in Philadelphia, and much more.