Our faith is 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not.
We believe in God's continuing testament. This is why we are committed to hearing God's ancient story anew and afresh in our lives and in the world today. We try to remain attentive to God's creative movement in the world. Religion and science are not mutually exclusive, and your head and heart are both welcomed into our places of worship. We prepare our members and leaders to be engaged in ministry in the present and future church, and we embrace all kinds of communities and new modes of thinking. Why? Because God is still speaking,
No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.
We believe in extravagant welcome. This is why we insist that God's communion table is open, not closed, and God's gift and claim in baptism are irrevocable. We advocate justice for all. Our congregations extend hospitality as a sign of God's inclusive love. We teach that evangelism — offering bread to those in search of it — is God's mission. Our perspective is global, not provincial. We work with — not against — people of other faiths. Why? Because God is still speaking,
Never place a period where God has placed a comma.
We believe the church's mission is to change lives — individually, systemically and globally. We work to make transformation possible, but trust in God's grace. This is why we insist that churches must be places of vitality in worship, learning and advocacy. We are committed to working for justice, and we believe that lives are changed through global experiences and friendships. Why? Because God is still speaking,
A Multiracial and Multicultural Church:
- affirms and lives out its faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ;
- knows we are interconnected with people of all races, ethnicities and cultures;
- embodies and rejoices in these diversities as gifts to the human family;
- welcomes all people into the community of faith without discrimination because of color, race, ethnicity, language or culture;
- formally recognizes and utilizes the racial and cultural varieties of gifts within the context of Christian Unity;
- struggles within church and society to rid itself of the sin of racism which has prevented an authentic embrace of the races, ethnicity and cultures in our denomination;
- makes multiracial and multicultural inclusiveness a key organizing principle for church in society;
- works for justice and peace throughout the global community;
- reflects in its membership the changing demographics
- declares itself an anti-racist congregation.
THE UNITED STATES
today and tomorrow:
The United States in 2005: 71.3 Million people of color *
What about the United Church of Christ?
What You Can Do:
- Pray for the Spirit to free you to be open to God's call for the UCC to become truly a church of many races and cultures;
- Expand your knowledge through reading and the arts of the gifts that the various races and cultures have contributed to the human family;
- Build relationships with people who are of a different race or ethnic origin;
- Practice hospitality by being the first to welcome racial and ethnic newcomers to your church and community;
- Participate in a variety of racial and ethnic worship experiences;
- Become fluent in a second language;
- Engage in self-examination of your feelings and attitudes toward other races, ethnic groups and cultures so that you may be able to identify the barriers that may be inhibiting you to understand, value or affirm them;
- Discern the effect of public policy issue on persons of other cultures and races before you vote or contact your representative;
- Recognize that everyone has a cultural heritage; reflect on your own culture and be a good listener to those whose culture may be different from yours;
- Hold anti-racism and cultural proficiency workshops for your congregation.
What Your Local Church Can Do:
- Initiate small group Bible Studies exploring God's call for inclusiveness in church and society;
- Organize a group that would research and write articles for the church newsletter and develop bulletin board displays highlighting the contributions and gifts that racial and ethnic persons and cultures have given to the human family;
- Conduct community and church self-study which will discern new initiatives for mission and evangelism in partnership with people of many races and ethnic traditions;
- Sponsor racism workshops so that people will come to understand and work to alleviate the root causes of racism within church and society;
- Engage in an intentional listening process both within the congregation and in the community toward the identification of community justice issues which may be jointly addressed by church and community;
- Provide opportunities to explore the relationship of local issues with global peace and justice issues;
- Establish partnerships with churches of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Words of Inspiration
What Shall I Render Unto God?
In a world divided by hatred, render love
In a world smashed by fear, render faith.
In a world burdened by ethnic strife in eastern Europe,
Render kindness over cruelty.
In a world torn by the Wall of shame,
Render the refreshing spirit of Glasnots and perestroika.
In a world smeared with the pain of hunger and
homelessness, render food and shelter.
In a world tormented by the demons of sexism and
racism, render equality and liberty.
In a world cursed by apartheid,
Render the joybells of freedom.
In a world that disvalues our children,
Render protection and compassion.
In a world unsure about the future,
Render the cup of salvation;
Render the shield of faith.
Pay your own vows unto the Lord.
E. Hammond Oglesby, Ph. D.
In 1993, the 19th General Synod of the United Church of Christ issued a pronouncement, "Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multeracial and Multicultural Church." This brochure is brought to you by covenanted ministries of the UCC to encourage discussion, dialogue and action.
The phrase appearing in numerous languages throughout this brochure, "You call us into your church...," is from the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ.
2016 Yearbook & Directory Statistics (based on annual reports)
2016 Eleven Year Conference Reports
Kansas - Oklahoma
Montana, Northern Wyoming
Missouri Mid - South
2015 Yearbook & Directory Statistics (based on annual reports)
2015 Eleven Year Conference Reports
2014 Yearbook & Directory Statistics (based on annual reports)
2014 Eleven Year Conference Reports
Church Planting 1.0
Church Planting 1.0, a five-week online learning opportunity, will provide a comprehensive overview in progressive church planting for people exploring starting a new church. This course will cover:
• Week One: Shaping Vision and Mission
• Week Two: Church Planting: The Basic Process
• Week Three: Fundraising and Stewardship
• Week Four: Networking in the 21st Century
• Week Five: Writing a Ministry Plan
The course begins on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 7 p.m. EASTERN time with a one-time, all-class conference call. After this, the course is "a-synchronous," meaning each week's work is completed according to the participant's individual schedule. There is no specific time each week when the class is held. Written lectures, PowerPoint presentations and videos all are accessed online any time during the week. Additional books and resources also will be assigned. Each week, forums will be offered for students to interact with each other and the instructor about issues related to that week's material. Finally, weekly reflection papers submitted to the instructor will demonstrate the student's understanding of the material. Presenting the material in an online course is the cutting edge of technology and learning.
At the conclusion of this course, you will receive a certificate of completion. CE credit is also available through our partnership with the Pacific School of Religion.
This course includes a 100 page e-Book on the basics of progressive church planting!
For more information or to register click here.
Church Planting 2.0
Church Planting 2.0, a five-week online learning opportunity. Created by a team of church planting practitioners, Church Planting 2.0 is focused on the post-launch experience of starting a church. Church Planting 1.0 is a prerequisite.
This course will cover:
• Week One: Ready, Fire, Aim - What to do when the plan doesn't work.
• Week Two: Leadership and Conflict - Leading through change
• Week Three: Practical Planting - Finding meeting space, setting up a database and creating a marketing strategy
• Week Four: Financial Sustainability - Building longer term financial support
• Week Five: Worship and Preaching - Preaching to Post-Moderns
The course begins on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 7 p.m. EASTERN time with a one-time, all-class conference call. And like our Church Planting 1.0 this course course is "a-synchronous," meaning each week's work is completed according to the participant's individual schedule. At the conclusion of this course, you will receive a certificate of completion. CE credit is also available through our partnership with the Pacific School of Religion.
For more information or to register click here.
New and Renewing Church Funding
Please go to our website: www.ucc.org/grow-your-church
New Church Grant Benefit Support Program
Click on PLAYLIST in the window above to select a single story.
Where I'm Supposed to Be
The moment she joined the church, Sue knew she was home. The woman who admitted that she ‘used to be lazy about church’ celebrates finding a family with the UCC.
Tapping into a Source of Life
Phil left the church after his father's death, but when he accidentally found the UCC 20 years later, he tapped into a new dimension of life that he says he was missing.
More Fun than Chuck-E-Cheese
Jamie describes the United Church of Christ as a safe place to land, not the church of your childhood. In fact, his six-year-old daughter finds the church school experience more fun than one of her favorite restaurants.
Just Show Up
A skeptic of organized religion, Chris found the UCC after searching for a church home in several denominations. Hear why he sees this church as the most consistent, accepting faith community – one that honors the individuality of each member.
Exactly What I Need
A young woman shares the incredibly healing power of her church, and says the UCC has been the foundation for finding herself again.
I Never Expected That
Peggy Jo had faith, but her husband didn't – until God spoke to the unchurched man and brought him into the UCC community, to the astonishment and delight of his wife. Hear how knowing God enriches the life of the whole family.
A Liberation Church
Hear more from the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo—"When we think we are changing lives, the lives that change are ours."
I Continue to be Changed
Hear why UCC executive the Rev. James Moos, who developed his global consciousness at a very young age because of the United Church of Christ, would be a very different person if not for this church.
You're Welcome Too
Accept our offer of radical inclusivity. We insist.
I Have a Place
Loey P. continues to celebrate her spiritual home. She was despondent about finding a career in pastoral ministry, until the UCC nurtured the leader she knew she could be.
I Don't Have to Change to Be Accepted by Christ
As an indigenous person of North America, Toni B. was searching for a justice-seeking church when she accepted the UCC church into her life.
Shockingly Accepting of People of All Varieties
Teenager Jake M. feels a special connection with the United Church of Christ, a church he says changes and adapts and grows with him.
Walking in My Purpose
Naomi L. believes that God is still trying to be in conversation with us and that the UCC has inspired her to figure out what God is calling her to do and how to do it.
Feeling Whole Again
Sean F. reflects on the many ways the United Church of Christ offers hope and a radical welcome through the tale of a friend who rediscovered a relationship with "church" through the UCC.
All of Who I Am
Sonja says church is what happens after service on Sunday. She loves the UCC because it nurtures her, and helps her grow.
My Authentic Self
Lindsay doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not in the UCC. Hear why she says no facades are in necessary our churches, which reflect the times in an ever-changing world.
A Liberating Journey
Suzanne S. heard a message from God in a song. She didn't grow up in church, and was searching -- until she found the UCC.
I Would be Rudderless
UCC member James B. talks about the extravagant welcome he felt when he first found the UCC, and about the profound effect the UCC has had on his life. He also talks about the unique gifts the UCC adds to the religious landscape.
When Jimmy G. found his UCC church in Raleigh, N.C., he not only found a congregation, he became part of a partnership of friends that takes the pain away.
Room For Us
Sarah D. shares her love of her local UCC church, and how being a UCC member has shaped her journey.
So Not Jesus
A UCC pastor shares his own personal experience with extravagant welcome.
It Didn’t Seem Real
After Brice T. was ostracized by his church for being gay, he lost his religion. But after 15 years of believing he wouldn't get to heaven, Brice met a UCC pastor, took a chance on going back to church one Easter morning, and experienced an overwhelming message of love and inclusivity.
Bruce C. was a homeless man on the streets of Philadelphia, but God led him to the warm embrace of a local UCC congregation. Hear his story of how they offered him unconditional love.
Where I Belonged
Three LGBTQ young adults with very different faith journeys share the profound ways the United Church of Christ has welcomed them.
I Feel Love
Diane J. talks about the meaningful way she found her Christian faith through the United Church of Christ.
Renew your commitment to love with the coming of the Christ Child. Merry Christmas from the United Church of Christ.
Please share this UCC Christmas message on your church website, and through your social media channels.
"Faith formation is understood and perceived as an engaged process of learning and practice integrated throughout all aspects of congregational and daily life." This definition allows for the combining of "head" and "heart" knowledge into a more holistic understanding and embodiment [of faith], rather than creating a dichotomy between these two areas." Children Worship & Wonder is an essential part of this holistic faith formation approach and subscribes to the understanding that churches are creating lifelong disciples.
John Roberto, founder of Lifelong Faith outlines six Best Practices in children's faith formation. While CW&W fits with many of these best practices, CW&W embodies the 3rd of these best practices which says that "Faith formation with children provides an environment that allows children to encounter the living God directly." The worship environment of CW&W was created with this encounter in mind. Stemming from the groundbreaking work of Sophia Cavaletti and her program Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the environment that children enter in CW&W is different than any other Christian education program. We will look further into this in a minute.
Faith formation researchers Rev. Dr. Ivy Beckwith and Rev. Dr. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi expresses that "vital formational children's ministry is about story, ritual, and relationship." CW&W is based around a unique story-telling format that invites children into God's stories and give them tools to participate in God's bigger story. The worship approach provides rituals and spiritual disciplines that are practiced each week.
Lastly, Dr. Lizardy-Hajbi comments that "there is a strong connection between a congregation's faith formation and its worship." At a young age where children are most open to God's spirit, it is even more essential that children have an experience of worship, an experience of the living God in a community of people. CW&W creates a community of intergenerational fellowship where both the children's and adult's minds, bodies, and spirits, are nurtured and cared for as they worship together.
So What Exactly is CW&W?
CW&W is faith formation worship centered approach with storytelling, ritual, and fellowship that is used with children in churches to help them deepen their relationship with God.
Children Worship & Wonder can be used during the congregations worship service or during Sunday School. Children Worship & Wonder uses the familiar four-fold order of worship with which many congregations are familiar. To begin, the children come into a special worship space, to a storyteller waiting to greet them. They sit in a circle, surrounded by bible stories made just for them, with all materials at their height. Everything in this special place is accessible to the children. The storyteller leads the children in a time of singing and praise. This coming together of the children follows the first order of worship which is the gathering of God's people.
Next they will hear one of God's stories in a storytelling format told with multi-sensory materials that children of different ages, and with different learning styles can enter into and enjoy. As the story is finished the children are invited to share in a time of wonder about the story. They are asked "wondering questions" to help them dive deeper into the meaning of the story and to listen for God's still voice that is found there. These questions might sound like, "I wonder if the Good Shepherd's sheep have names?" Or, " I wonder what it was like to be in the ark for forty days…I wonder if Noah knew that God was with him?" These wondering questions ask the children how they are part of the story and how they are a part of the bigger Christian story. They begin to see that the stories in the Bible are their stories too.
Third, just as in "big" worship the children will respond to God's story. In "big" worship we often respond through prayer, song, offering, celebrating the Lord's Supper, commissioning, and celebrating baptisms. The children have the chance to respond to the Word in a myriad of ways as well. Some of these ways include using the story materials to tell the story they just heard, a story they heard on a previous Sunday and their own story. They may also choose to work with art and craft materials, pray at the prayer table, dance in the dance corner, or build with materials such as clay or blocks. These response materials are there to help them express their relationship with God. After they respond in a way they choose, the children come back to the circle. Here the storyteller lights the Christ candle and shows the children where the story they heard is found in the Bible. Then as a community they pray together and share in a feast.
As they leave the worship center, the children will participate in the last order of worship which is the sending out of God's people into the world. Each child will be given a special blessing by the storyteller as they leave to be God's disciples in their homes, schools, and activities.
This order is followed every Sunday. Because there is a ritual to this time together the children are free to relax into the space and go deeper into the stories. They can truly enter into a time of listening and talking with God. As children move from CW&W into "big" worship, they are familiar with the rhythm and joy of worshiping. They bring this with them as they continue participating in worship with the bigger congregation.
How do I learn to do this?
First, get a copy of the Young Children and Worship book. Everything you need is in this book including the order of worship and patterns for the stories. Second, find a training in your area. You can look for one by clicking the training link on this webpage. If you do not see a training in your area, contact Disciples Home Missions and they will help you find one or help you set one up at your church.
We look forward to hearing from you and wish you many blessings as you work with God's children.
"Foundations, Findings, and Futures: Christian Faith Formation and Education in the United Church of Christ Executive Summary"
Rev. Kristina Lizardy Hajbi Ph.D.
"Best Practices in Children's Faith Formation"
John Roberto and Katie Pfiffner
"Formational Children's Ministry: Shaping Children Using Story, Ritual, and Relationship"
Ivy Beckwith (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2010)
"Young Children and Worship"
Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman (Louisville, Westminster John Knox 1989)
The gifts Christ gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.(Ephesians 4:11-12) The United Church of Christ values well-prepared and faithful ministerial leadership for the building up of the body of Christ and for God's ongoing mission in the world. To that end, we continue to expand our definitions of learnedness and leadership, our practices of discernment, and our expressions of covenant.
Additional resources specific to authorized ministers in the United Church of Christ include: Grants for Personal and Vocational Crisis; Interim Ministry Guidelines; Information Review Form (a tool for maintaining one's standing through intentional communication with one's local Committee on Ministry); overview of health, pension, and other benefits through The Pension Boards; Faith and Wisdom (a searchable database of ecumenical Protestant opportunities for continuing education).
There are three forms of authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ: commissioned ministry, licensed ministry and ordained ministry.
- A commissioned minister is authorized by an Association of the United Church of Christ to perform "specific church-related ministry which is recognized by that Association but does not require ordination or licensure." (UCC Bylaws) Typically, commissioned ministers do not perform sacramental ministry but are engaged in ministries (e.g. education, music, nursing) that the denomination values as part of its mission and ministry. Commissioning is dependent upon a recognized call to an organized body. A commissioned minister is a representative minister in the United Church of Christ, and one's commission is transferable to another Association when there is a new call within the same "specific church-related ministry."
- A licensed minister is authorized by an Association of the United Church of Christ "to perform specific duties in a designated local church or within that Association, mainly preaching and conducting services of worship for a designated time." (UCC Bylaws) Licensed ministry is frequently authorized, for example, when a local church needs pastoral and sacramental leadership but an ordained minister is not available. The Association, in consultation with the local church requesting a person's licensure, determines the specific duties and length of time for which the license is granted. A license is not transferable to another ministry setting or Association.
- An ordained minister is authorized by an Association of the United Church of Christ to preach and teach the gospel, to administer the sacraments and rites of the church, and to exercise pastoral care and leadership. An ordained minister is a representative minister of the United Church of Christ and is in covenant with the local church where (s)he holds UCC membership, the calling body where (s)he is engaged in ministry, and the Association acting on behalf of the United Church of Christ. Once granted, ordained standing is ongoing and transferable to another Association; standing is always subject to review and requires a mindful relationship between the clergyperson, Association and ministry setting. The Ordained Minister's Code not only guides a clergyperson's behavior in ministry but also provides an assessment tool for ongoing discernment and growth.
"We were fortunate to get some truly invested facilitators and we were all very impressed with the training weekend. The trainers were great, the pace was lively, the material dealt with real issues, and the process was well thought out. The added incentive was the promise of an assessment of our church done by outsiders,"
- Rev. Ruby Easton, West Parish UCC in Andover MA.
Watch a New Beginnings Assessment video testimony!
"New Beginnings provides an excellent combination of outside assessment and internal discernment. The assessment and training provoke deep and imaginative conversation that empowers a congregation to own the future God has in store for them."
- Rev. Wendy Vander Hart, Associate Conference Minister, Massachusetts Conference, UCC
"What is God calling your congregation to do and be in this time and this place?"
If your congregation can answer "yes" to three or more of the following, it may be time for a New Beginning:
• Less than 70 in worship, or more than 70 in worship but significant decline for a decade
• Wrestling with future vision for the church
• Significant building issues
• Aging membership
• Changing neighborhood
• Trouble paying bills and/or paying off a loan
• Currently in interim time of transition
With New Beginnings, your congregation will:
• Receive a comprehensive report of strengths and challenges, as well as a realistic picture of possible future directions.
• Be trained in a discernment process to follow God's lead in choosing a new direction.
• Discover available ministry opportunities in the community.
• Learn how to discuss and implement change in a healthy, open manner.
• Leaders receive additional training on leading through change.
• Set a course for future strategic and visionary ministry planning.
Download the full brochure.
New Beginnings Info Sheet.
New Beginnings Resources for Conferences and Congregations
Conference/Region Roles in New Beginnings
Conference/Region Application for New Beginnings
Church Application for New Beginnings
"Two of the things I have most appreciated about the New Beginnings program are its extensiveness and thoroughness. I have encountered no other program that gives such a complete assessment of the church from its facilities to finances, from the community around the building to the community within the building, it really helps the church fully understand the reality and potential of its current situation. Combining that with the training for house meetings and ongoing coaching/mentoring gives the church all that it really needs to discern and move into its future."
- Rev. Donald Remick, Associate Conference Minister, Massachusetts Conference, UCC