If you have hugs to spare, consider sponsoring a child through our Global Ministries Child Sponsorship Program, a global children's ministry of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For more than 40 years we have provided assistance to destitute children in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. Currently, we have eleven centers participating and approximately 1000 children in the program.
What Child Sponsorship is...
Our program works closely with private centers that have long-established links with a UCC or Disciples global ministry partner. The program helps to provide basic meals, clothing, shelter and health care to children in orphanages and shelters for homeless children. In some cases partial school fees and uniforms are provided through support of sponsors.
Sponsorship fees range from $25 to $40. Sponsorship costs vary according to the services a center provides and the cost of living in that country. No funds are sent to government institutions or individuals. Sponsors receive a letter, with a brief biography and photo of their child. If the child is old enough to write, sponsors can expect a minimum of two letters a year, and/or periodic progress resports from the center's administrator.
For more information about our program, please contact:
Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
For more information:
You can't say the word transgender and people really know what you're talking about. But anybody who says the word transgender means something different by it anyway, so it really is a story and not just a label. - Malcolm
Call Me Malcolm is an amazing story of the human spirit and God's spirit, and the liberating struggle to realize and express with confidence the marvelous gift of one's truest sense of self. As Malcolm shares his own story and through the stories of others we meet, Call Me Malcolm offers us a glimpse into the real lives of real people who are transgender. But it is only a glimpse. There are many stories to be told and Malcolm helps us make connections to our own stories, encouraging us to share them. That can seem daunting in a culture which has done more to heap shame on persons who identify as transgender. The good news of Malcolm's story is the way in which shame and fear are overcome by grace, compassion and knowledge. Viewers cannot help but come to a deeper understanding of faith, love, and gender identity, and by doing so, arrive at a deeper understanding of their own journey.
Produced by the United Church of Christ and Filmworks, Inc.
To play video clips from the film, click here and then on "Clips" from the Call Me Malcolm home page menu bar.
Download Study Guides
For more information about the film: www.callmemalcolm.com
by United Church of Christ National Bodies
Since 1969 various national settings of the United Church of Christ have addressed the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in church and society, calling for welcome, inclusion and justice. On this page you will find a comprehensive list of the pronouncements, resolutions and other actions adopted by the General Synod, Executive Council and other UCC national bodies. You will also find links to the texts of these actions.
List of Actions
2011, "Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity", 28th General Synod
2011, "The Right of LGBT Parents to Adopt and Raise Children", 28th General Synod
2009, "Affirming Diversity/Multi-Cultural Education in the Public Schools", 27th General Synod
2005, "Equal Marriage Rights for All", 25th General Synod
2005, "Equal Marriage Rights for All", 25th General Synod with the background text.
2004, "Call to Action and Invitation to Dialogue on Marriage", Executive Council
2003, "Reaffirming the United Church of Christ's Denouncement of Violence Against Lesbian and Gay People and Calling for the Inclusion of Transgender people within that Anti-violence Statement", 24th General Synod
2003, "The United Church of Christ and the Boy Scouts of America", 24th General Synod
1999, "Prevention of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth Suicide", 22nd General Synod
1999, "Affirming and Strengthening Marriage", 22nd General Synod
1998, "Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation", Executive Council
1997, "Fidelity and Integrity in all Covenanted Relationships", 21st General Synod
1996, "Equal Marriage Rights for Same-sex Couples", Directorate of the Office of Church in Society
1996, "Equal Marriage Rights for Same Gender Couples", Board of Directors of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries
1993, "Resolution Calling on the Church for Greater Leadership to End Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians", 19th General Synod
1993, "A Call to End the Ban against Gays and Lesbians in the Military", 19th General Synod
1991, "Resolution on Virginia Privacy Laws", 18th General Synod
1991, "Resolution on Affirming Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Persons and their Ministries", 18th General Synod
1989, "Resolution Deploring Violence against Lesbian and Gay People", 17th General Synod
1987, "Resolution on the Right to Privacy", 16th General Synod
1985, "Resolution Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming", 15th General Synod
1983, "Report of the Task Force for the Study of Human Sexuality", 14th General Synod
1983, "Resolution on the Institutionalized Homophobia within the United Church of Christ", 14th General Synod
1980, 81, "Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Revision", Executive Council
1977, "Recommendations in Regard to the Human Sexuality Study", 11th General Synod
1977, "Resolution Deploring the Violation of Civil Rights of Gay and Bisexual Persons", 11th General Synod
1975, "Resolution on Human Sexuality and the Needs of Gay and Bisexual Persons", 10th General Synod
1975, "A Pronouncement: Civil Liberties without Discrimination Related to Affectional or Sexual Preference", 10th General Synod
1973, "Human Sexuality and Ordination", Executive Council
1969, "Resolution on Homosexuals and the Law", Council for Christian Social Action
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT)
Same Gender Loving (SGL) Ministries
Who ever you are, where ever you are on life's journey,You are welcome here!
Connect with us on Facebook: UCC LGBT Ministries
Open and Affirming (ONA)
Open and Affirming is a journey of building inclusive churches and other ministry settings that welcome the full participation of LGBT people in the UCC's life and ministry.
Find an Open and Affirming UCC church
Please note: Many UCC congregations which may not have adopted an ONA covenant for various reasons are nevertheless welcoming and safe communities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians.
The Rev. Paul H. Sherry
United Church of Christ
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8.1)
In recent months we have witnessed the continuance of hate crimes against gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons, while in the church discussion about their civil rights and the appropriateness of their membership and ministry in the life of the church has intensified. Several denominations in the United States, as well as some churches and bishops around the world, have adopted or reaffirmed policies that exclude gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons from sharing fully in the ministry of the church. Other Christian leaders have harshly suggested that gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons have no place at all in the life of the church and that their human rights do not deserve the full measure of legal protection. In addition, some political leaders, usually claiming religious support, have vigorously opposed efforts to secure these very rights. Sometimes these anti-gay positions have been justified by flawed scientific understandings of the nature of homosexuality. Underlying many of these convictions is the assumption, frequently untested, that the Bible in general, and Christianity in particular, teach that homosexuality is a sin.
In my role as pastor to the United Church of Christ, and in this season of theological reflection on "The Inclusive Church," I offer this Pastoral Letter to remind all of us that the church is to be a place where all are welcomed, where the gifts of all are recognized and received, and where the rights of all are defended and promoted. When so many in our society would reject and exclude, it is critical that we of the United Church of Christ bear witness to the conviction that it is possible to be deeply faithful to the Bible, profoundly respectful of the historic faith of the church and of its sacraments, and at the same time support the full inclusion and participation of all God's children in the membership and ministry of the church. Likewise, there can be no compromise that all persons in this society must enjoy equal protection under the law.
I write in deep gratitude for the journey of discernment and action that the United Church of Christ has taken over the past several decades. For all our difficulties and challenges, I believe the United Church of Christ is uniquely equipped to take on this complex but crucial vocation both in the public arena and among our ecumenical partners. Informed by the actions of several General Synods, by Biblical and theological reflection, and above all by countless pastoral encounters with members of our church, I am convinced that there must be and will be no turning back from our commitment, especially in the face of the current prejudice and misunderstanding prevalent in both the church and the society.
Contrary to what some assume or allege, the conviction of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, along with the witness of many conferences, associations, and local churches, is not a superficial response to changing cultural norms or an easy reaction to certain social opinions. At their best, our commitments have grown out of a profound reflection on the meaning of our baptism and our participation in the sacrament of holy communion. Our commitments have grown as we have responded pastorally to the needs of many of our members and their families who have been the victims of prejudice or who have experienced rejection in the church.
We have been confronted and gifted by the presence in our church of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians who have been baptized in our sanctuaries, confirmed before our altars, and ordained by our associations. We have been confronted and gifted by men and women faithfully attentive to the Word, diligent in their sacramental life, forthright in their Christian witness and compassionate in their service. We have been confronted and gifted by parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, faithful members of our church, whose embrace by a loving God has enabled them to accept a gay, lesbian, or bisexual family member, and who yearn for that same loving embrace to be extended by the church to their child, their grandchild, their brother or sister, their parent. We have been confronted and gifted by faithful, mature, and able members who have experienced God's call to the ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament, who have sought and received the recognition and authorization of the church. We have been confronted and gifted by ordained men and women who have served faithfully and well for many years and who now wish to minister among us with renewed vitality openly affirming their same gender orientation. We have been confronted and gifted by gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons who have found love in the physical, emotional, and spiritual embrace of another, and are living in committed covenantal relationships of fidelity and trust which they yearn for the church to bless and the society to respect and protect. And we have been confronted and gifted by members of our church and those of other churches who have known the pain of rejection, the anguish of exclusion, and the fear of abuse, yet who remain faithful to their baptismal vows, seek to be fed at Christ's Table, and desire to be engaged in the mission of Christ's reconciling love in the world.
Confronted and gifted by these baptized persons, members of the United Church of Christ have been challenged to read the Bible again with new eyes and listen to the Holy Spirit with new ears. We have had to reexamine long held assumptions about those few passages of Scripture that appear to speak about homosexuality in the light of transforming interpretations from widely respected Bible scholars and teachers, and we have begun to recognize how our fears of those who are different, and our society's deeply entrenched bias against homosexual persons has often distorted and nearly silenced the Bible's liberating and inclusive voice. At the same time, encounters with hurting and excluded sisters and brothers have caused us to look to the whole of Scripture which speaks of a God who continually reaches out for those who are cast out for any reason, those who live at the margins of our lives. We have been reminded of our identity as disciples of the One who often ate with those rejected by the religious norms of the day, the One who sets before us all the Table of God's inclusive love, mercy, and grace.
In these encounters, we have remembered our own history, recalling ways we have been led to expand the church's welcome to others who have been excluded. We remembered the Amistad and the story of our forebears, both enslaved and free, who rejected Biblical interpretations that supported slavery and whose new appreciation for the Gospel's mandate led them to fight for freedom for all. We remembered Japanese Americans driven from their homes during the Second World War, and those of our churches who spoke out for their rights. We remembered many women who refused to submit to a misuse of the Bible that denied them places of leadership or that conspired in their abuse, and who found affirmation and encouragement in our churches, our colleges, and our seminaries. We remembered ancestors of our Hungarian sisters and brothers whose witness to the Reformed faith led to their persecution as galley slaves and martyrs, as well as those who fled oppression in 1956 to find safe haven among our churches. More recently we remembered our church's call for self-determination for Puerto Rican people, the championing of the rights of Chicano farm workers, the call for respect for the dignity of Native American people demeaned by caricature and stereotype, the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Hawaiians deprived of their land and culture, and solidarity with those who declared that the apartheid system erected and supported by other Bible reading Christians was idolatry, a denial of the very integrity of the church's confession. All of this has helped us discover that our church's concern for the rights and dignity of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people is not a break from our past, or a departure from Scripture, but is informed by our moments of greatest fidelity to the prophetic voice of the Bible and the Gospel's embrace for those who, with Christ, have been despised.
The encounters in our own church with each other over the subject of sexual orientation have not been easy and, for some, remain profoundly disturbing. We have experienced conflict; the covenants that bind us together have been tested. At times we have felt isolated from and misunderstood by some in the ecumenical community. But we have also experienced marvelous surprises:
- the growth and vitality of many local churches that have declared themselves open to and affirming of the gifts of gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons;
- the gracious perseverance of The United Church Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns which, for twenty-six years, has been a prophetic presence in our church, clarifying concerns, challenging stereotypes, providing leaders for every setting of the church's life, gently and persistently changing hearts and minds, providing a refuge for those who have suffered wounds of prejudice and exclusion in church and society;
- the gratitude and encouragement of Christians in other churches who have found in our church's journey to new understandings a sign of hope amid discouragement;
- the growing self-esteem of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth in our church who are able to worship in congregations that respect their full humanity, as well as the heterosexual youth in our churches who have found themselves called to confront the anti-gay prejudice so prevalent in their schools;
- the renewal that springs forth as we discover, again, that we are not trapped by the past but are part of a living tradition that is "reformed, yet always reforming," a people whose only comfort in life and in death is that they belong to Christ.
In these days we dare not be arrogant. The story of our pilgrimage with our gay, lesbian, and bisexual members at times has been marked by hesitation, fear, and frequent failures of nerve. At times prophetic voices, whether heard from inside or from outside the church, have been resisted. We have not always been properly respectful, or sought to understand with sincerity, those sisters and brothers among us who do not share our understanding or conviction or witness. At the same time, we have sometimes failed to recognize how the Bible has been used by some to perpetuate prejudice and to justify violence against homosexual persons.
But in these days we dare not be silent, either. I believe our voice among the churches and within our society is urgently needed, bearing witness to the belief that God cherishes all and dignifies all, and to our experience of gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons as gifts of God, called with us by their baptism into the fullest participation in God's mission of reconciliation in the world. I am convinced this voice will have power insofar as it is a voice shaped by the language of faith and the experience of worship, a voice in which the liberating truth of the Bible can be heard, and the courageous spirit of the saints will be echoed. By that voice, I believe, our churches will be renewed. More importantly, in that voice, I believe, the lonely will be called to companionship, the frightened will find comfort, the abused will know safety, and those sisters and brothers in Christ who have lost hope will rediscover the blessing of their baptism: Child of God, disciple of Christ, member of Christ's Church.
The UCC Young Adult Ministries mission statement
We strive to be inclusive of the whole body of Christ in local churches, associations, conferences, and national entities.
The mission of Young Adult Ministries:
Affirm the unique gifts, talents, and ministries of young adults;
Provide opportunities through programs and resources for young adults to explore ways to integrate their faith in their lives and through their life transitions;
Develop young adult leadership and ministry trough resources and training programs to empower young adults and strengthen their commitment to the United Church of Christ;
Support existing models and create new models for ministries with young adults in higher education;
Work to deepen the multiracial multicultural richness and understanding within the United Church of Christ by supporting involvement of young adults from all racial/ethnic groups and acknowledging that differences are assets to ministry;
Work to ensure fair and adequate representation by young adults throughout the life of the United Church of Christ, including all boards, councils, and committees of the church;
Nurture leaders of young adult ministries through training, resources and creating environments of support;
Fully embrace young adults in our churches and in our communities, addressing their needs and issues through evangelism and a spirit of Christian fellowship, renewing and supporting the growth of the body of Christ.
Volunteer and mission opportunities
Here you'll find highlights of the latest opportunities for volunteer and mission work that have been added to the website.
Opportunities for UCC-Related Schools to Engage in Service-Learning Programs Help Connect Ministries of Higher Education and the Wider Church!
Volunteer! Short-term volunteer opportunities are available any time throughout the year. For long-term service beginning in January, the deadline is Sept. 1st. Check out the Partners in Service brochure on the Volunteer Ministries webpage (this link needs to be updated) now!
Talk to us! Have you gone on a mission trip or participated in extended volunteer service? We want to hear your story and, hopefully, share it. If you're willing to share your reflections on your experience of mission or service, send us an e-mail.
We are all called to serve God in many ways, with many gifts. Serving one another with our time, energy and talents is a vital ministry, whether in local communities, around the nation or across the globe. The UCC's volunteer ministry opportunities offer ways to serve all over the United States. The UCC and DOC (Disciples of Christ) joint global ministries provide opportunities to do mission all over the globe. Below is more information on each of these important ministries, as well as info on some opportunities of special interest to young adults.
The Global Ministries website is a wonderful resource for those interested in getting involved in mission work, whether through mission trips or by supporting missionaries' work from home. The site has information about both short-term (a few weeks or months) and long-term (a few years) mission opportunities grounded both in work and in educational experiences. The site also highlights opportunities specifically for youth, young adults, seminarians and other special groups.
UCC Volunteer Ministries provides a wide variety of opportunities to serve. Short-term projects can be as short as two weeks, while long-term service for a year or more is also available. Some summer programs are also available, ideal for students. Service opportunities exist all over the country and in Puerto Rico, and the minimum age and skills required vary greatly. Check out the website for more info, including the Partners in Service booklet of volunteer opportunities and an application form.
While applications can be accepted at any time, please bear in mind the deadlines for service:
April 1 for summer opportunities
May 1 for long-term placements beginning in September
September 1for long-term placements beginning in January
Applications received after these dates may be considered for the following year.
Below are just a few of the opportunities offered in the Partners in Service booklet.
Heifer Project International Learning and Livestock Center, Perryville, Arkansas
A hands-on campus for education about world hunger and solutions through animal agriculture in its outdoor "living classroom," offering opportunities to volunteer in the following areas: general education, livestock, horticulture, distribution, sales, maintenance, hosting, receptionist, and greetings. Volunteers must be at least 18. Long term, short term, and summer opportunities available.
Open Door Community, Atlanta, Georgia
A residential Christian community in the Catholic worker tradition, serving the homeless, poor and prisoners. Volunteers are needed to serve as resident advisors who work and live with community members and participate in a prison ministry at Central Georgia Prison. www.opendoorcommunity.orgVolunteers must be at least 20. Long term, short term, and summer opportunities available.
The Night Ministry, Chicago, Illinois
Responding to the needs of people on the nighttime streets of Chicago, including homeless and runaway youth, working poor adults, and children who need safe shelter. Volunteers are needed to serve in the Outreach and Health Ministries, the youth shelter, and with clerical and administrative office tasks. www.thenightministry.orgVolunteers must be at least 21. Only long term opportunities available.
Emmaus Homes and Emmaus Homes, Inc., St. Charles and Marthasville, Missouri
Dedicated to providing quality, long-term residential care for men and women who are developmentally disabled. Volunteers are sought to coordinate and assist with group activities, assist in recreation and residential services, serve as companions to residents, and assist with maintenance projects. Volunteers must be at least 18. Long term and short term opportunities available.
Old First Reformed UCC, Philadelphia, PA
A historic downtown church with an extensive outreach ministry that includes a homeless shelter that operates in the church November through May. A volunteer is needed to serve as liaison between the church and shelter, to make the schedules, work with the volunteers, help with special programs, and supervise the maintenance of kitchen and shelter space. Summer volunteers are needed to run a day camp for neighborhood children and coordinate a youth-employment program. A long-term volunteer is needed to serve as outreach worker and caretaker for the church property, to manage weekly food and clothing distributions and to direct a work camp program. Volunteers must be at least 18. Long term and summer opportunities available.
Plymouth House of Healing, Seattle, WA
A transitional home located on North Beacon Hill. It seeks resident companions to spend a year living in community with formerly homeless people who struggle with mental illness. Being a companion here is an opportunity to provide friendship and support. Volunteers must be at least 21. Long-term, short-term, and summer opportunities available.
At the recent General Synod 25 in Atlanta, a resolution called, "Another World Is Possible: A Peace With Justice Movement in the United Church of Christ," was adopted by the Synod. This resolution lifts up and affirms previous actions of the General Synod which have given the UCC many of its distinctive justice identities, such as being a Just Peace Church.
On the occasion of this important anniversary, local churches are encouraged to offer prayers and times of reflection on the significance of the past sixty years, and to pray and offer witness for peace in the world and the elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Another world is possible. It must be possible. A world void of nuclear weapons with their devastating and long lasting affects on the peoples of this world, and on the earth.
A Prayer of Remembrance
O God, tender and just,
the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
cut through our denial
that we are capable of destroying the earth
and all that dwell therein.
Forgive us -
and help us to always remember.
We must remember because this must never happen again.
We must remember because you would have us live
in harmony with each other,
seeing the joy of your creation in our
sisters and brothers.
Holy God, God of all the ages,
lead us from death to life,
to the stockpiling of hope, and of possibilities,
and of love
rather than the stockpiling of weapons, or stones to throw,
or of hate.
We pray for the healing of the earth and of its peoples,
especially for our sisters and brothers
upon whom a nuclear rain poured down.
Help us to imagine that another world is possible
and guide our actions towards the peace
you envision, the peace you have already given us.
In the name of the One who came so that we might have life,
and have it abundantly, we pray.
Written by Rev. Loey Powell
There are several activities you and your church might consider taking part in during this time. Organize a local Shadow Project in your community. This project uses the simple technique of drawing the outlines of persons with chalk on sidewalks to symbolize the hundreds of thousands of residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were vaporized in the blasts. Check out the website for the Shadow Project, or call them at 503-274-2720.
Many liturgical ideas and other resources which could be used on Sunday, July 31 or August 7, or at special services of remembrance during the week, are available from the United Methodists.
For more information on these actions, or on organizing a candlelight vigil on August 9 at your city hall, or for downloads of Days of Remembrance action postcards, visit the website of Waging Peace. (The National Council of Churches has endorsed these efforts.)
Resolution: Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing
Health is harmony with self and others, the environment, and with God—a continuum of physical, social, psycological, and spiritual well-being. Health ministry is the promotion of healing and health as wholeness as a mission of a faith community to its members and the community it serves. Health partners are many, both paid and volunteer, laity and clergy, all are committed to sharing the compassionate love and grace of Jesus Christ through the health and healing ministries of the UCC.
The health minister/parish nurse serves as a member of the ministry team of the local church. The health minister (a person having a health care background that may or may not be a parish nurse) facilitates the promotion of health and healing via health educational programs, spiritual care, referrals to appropriate health care providers, as well as through support groups and personal health counseling. The parish nurse, a registered profesional nurse, promotes health and wholeness through the practice of nursing as defined by the nurse practice act in the jurisdiction in which he/she practices. Parish nurses function as health counselors, resource persons, spiritual caregivers, health educators, small group facilitators, and coordinators of health ministry volunteers.
WHEREAS, recognizing many illnesses and premature deaths may be prevented by lifestyle choices and belief systems, (i.e. diet, exercise, substance abuse, violence, and risk-taking behaviors), health ministers/parish nurses integrate current medical and behavioral knowledge with the belief and practices of a faith community to prevent illness and promote wholeness; and
WHEREAS, the UCC Statement of Health and Welfare (1985) states that, "Based on our understanding of Shalom—of God's intent for harmony and wholeness within creation—and on the examples of Jesus Christ's ministry which expressed God's intent through acts of love and justice, we must be committed as a church to a mission of Shalom and to a lifestyle compatible with that mission;" and
WHEREAS, essential elements of a health ministry/parish nursing program include (but are not limited to):
- a philosophy of health and wholeness as a part of the faith community's mission;
- a designated person or team to be concerned about health ministry;
- a commitment to continued learning regarding health and wellness issues;
- a process to develop and evaluate health and wholeness goals and objectives;
- health education and programming according to assessed health needs of the congregation;
- awareness of health and wellness celebrations designated in the UCC calendar; and
WHEREAS, General Synod Eighteen (June, 1985) adopted the "Mission Statement on Health and Welfare" which states that: It is clear that the whole church is involved in this mission (in health and welfare). Whether represented in local churches, associations, conferences, or national level bodies the whole church is itself the creation of God's compassionate mercy in Christ, and as such, the instrument of God's intention for all humankind. (II Corinthians 5:13-21); and
WHEREAS, good health is a part of God's intention for all people, health involves the whole person—body, mind, and spirit and healing and health care are valid ways of proclaiming the Gospel and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ; and
WHEREAS, the Gospel prolcaims that health is a relationship to God set forth in Baptism and Holy Communion in which God makes wholeness as the Divine Gift.
The wholeness ascribed by God as a gift recognizes that illness and disability exist, but the presence of these does not define the individual in the sight of God, or limit the ability of such individuals to be in a whole relationsihp with God; and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls certain of its members to various forms of ministry in and on behalf of the church for which ecclesiastical authorization is recognized by commissioning, licensing, and ordination; health ministers and parish nurses may feel called to one of these authorized ministries; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod encourages local congregations to develop/include in their mission a commitment to health and wholeness, engage health and wholeness issues through an ongoing health cabinet/health ministry team, and consider the implementation of a health ministry/parish nurse program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and Office of Church Life and Leadership, in conjunction with conferences, United Church of Christ seminaries, the Council on Health and Human Services Ministries and local congregations, to begin and/or continue to develop resources that support the development and enrichment of health ministry programs in local churches; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon conferences and associations to:
1. Establish or designate a body to address health and human service issues confronting members and their communities; and
2. Recognize health ministry and parish nursing as a specialized ministry; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon the Office of Church Life and Leadership to recognize and consider including health ministry/parish nursing in the listing of specific church-related ministries qualifying for commissioned ministry, and to consider developing guidelines and educational standards to be included in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry.
Subject to the availability of funds.
"How terrible it will be for those who make unfair laws, and those who write laws that make life hard for people. They are not fair to the poor and they rob my people of their rights. They allow people to steal from widows and take from orphans what really belongs to them."
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is an action taken by individuals, groups, or organizations to defend, support, or protect others. Generally, advocacy is standing with or standing for a person or group that is disadvantaged or denied justice in society. In the effort to bring about justice, advocacy may include education, affecting public policy, joining coalitions, and participating in nonviolent direct actions. Effective advocacy enables and supports individuals and groups working to correct the injustices or abuses to which they are subjected.
Adapted from the website of the Latin American Working Group.
Do you wonder if your efforts make a difference with your elected officials? Check out our special section: Does Advocacy Make a Difference?
Why should I care about advocacy?
These are challenging times for our nation, as debate rages over fundamental decisions regarding our national priorities, values and commitments, and how they will be expressed in public policy. Events of recent times remind us that we cannot ignore economic, social, and ecological realities that have led to greater abundance for some and scarcity for many others. In the challenges before us today, we, as people of faith, can hear the echoes of prophets and believers who, throughout history, lifted up a vision of right relationship within human community and with God. God’s vision of the wholeness of creation has always challenged the human limits of our thoughts, imaginations, and hopes.
The Hebrew people were continually reminded that the way in which their human community was structured reflected their relationship to God. In the prophetic tradition, justice in human community is inextricably linked to being in right relationship with God. For as God had brought the people through great trouble, so they were to respond to those in trouble in their midst.
Jesus reminds us of the call to compassion and justice, showing special care and concern for those in his day who were considered “expendables.” “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
How do I develop an Advocacy Strategy?
Before any advocacy campaign begins, before the letter-writing, petitions, or protests, advocates must have a clear strategy. This is an overall map of where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. Start by asking yourself these five questions.
1. What Do You Want? (Objectives)
2. Who Can Give It to You? (Audiences)
3. What Do They Need to Hear? (Message)
4. Who Do They Need to Hear It From? (Messengers)
5. How Can We Get Them to Hear It? (Delivery)
When developing your message, ask yourself this key question: what piece of information that is missing from the debate can I offer that might change someone’s thinking on an issue if they became aware of it?
Timing advocacy to influence legislation is the most important skill needed by legislative advocates. Once an issue is decided by vote, it is very difficult, often practically impossible, to reverse the action until the next year or the next session of Congress. For more coordinated and strategic advocacy, which differs from rapid-response advocacy, it is important to plan ahead.
One excellent way to do advocacy is to enlist the help of leaders in the community, like clergy and other religious leaders. Religious leaders command respect among their congregations and also from elected officials and those who do not belong to a faith community. Partnering clergy and leaders of faith communities is a great, strategic way to engage your elected officials, especially if among the faith leaders is the leader of that elected official’s faith group.
[Adapted from Democracy In Action, a newsletter of the Democracy Center, The Institute for Public Policy Advocacy, 1535 Mission Street, San Francisco, California, 94103, 415-431-2051]
Who are my elected officials?
There are a number of ways to learn who your elected officials are. The simplest way to find them is through our Find Elected Officials tool, where you can look up your elected representatives by zip code. Once you know who your officials are, visit their websites and learn more about who they are. The more informed your communication is with them, the better.
What is the timing for Advocacy on the Federal level?
The key working days for the House and Senate are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This allows members of Congress to travel to their home districts and provides time for committee work and various kinds of caucusing and negotiations. In Washington, D.C., Mondays and Fridays are better times for meeting with legislative aides, but advocates should not be deterred by this and may try to set up a meeting on any weekday. Even when there is floor action in the House or Senate, it may be the case that the important action is happening in committees, caucuses, and negotiations.
It is not easy to predict when members will be in home districts and states, but it is important to contact the home offices of members to pursue appointments, since it is just as effective to meet with a staff member there. Of course, don’t forget phone calls, hand-written letters, and emails. These are all effective ways to weigh in on important issues.
Why is it important to advocate on the state and local levels, as well as the federal level?
Advocacy on the state and local level is as important as your work on the federal level. Today, the relationship between the states and the federal government in shaping and implementing public policy is being redefined on a broad range of issues, particularly budget deficits, homeland security, health care, education, environment, election reform, and welfare reform. The connection between federal and state public policy is becoming more evident. In this new environment, public policy advocacy is critical at both the state and federal level. Every state and local legislative calendar is different, so check on your state and local webpages to find out when legislation is on the move.