"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.
One of the best places to find information that connects curriculum to the history, ministry, and mission of the United Church of Christ is the United Church of Christ award winning web site. Use this directory to find topics of specific interest for a particular Sunday or session.
Whether your church uses Shine, Deep Blue Kids, Caffeine, The Present Word, or another curriculum, you will find links below that will help you add activities and resources that reflect the United Church of Christ.
Some of these links direct you to pages on the UCC web site, while others connect you with resources which you may order from UCC Resources.
United Church of Christ History
Look for opportunities to help learners explore and understand the rich heritage of the United Church of Christ. These links will be of special help to those working with Affirming Faith: A Congregation's Guide to Confirmation.
United Church of Christ Identity and Information
These links direct you to basic information about the United Church of Christ.
God Is Still Speaking
What is the UCC?
Justice and Witness Ministries Home Page
Local Church Ministries Home Page
Wider Church Ministries Home Page
Pension Boards Home Page
United Church Foundation Home Page
Meet Our Officers
Calendar of Prayer
UCC Annual Reports
UCC Logo Page
UCC Electronic Newsroom
Confessing Our Faith: An Interpretation of the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ Ministries
The links below to national ministries of the United Church of Christ provide connections with ways your group may choose to respond.
Mission Throughout the Year
Many suggestions for specific Sundays through the whole church year are in the above document!
Making Our Churches Safe for All
The two links below are a gateway to a wealth of information for churches which use the Revised Common Lectionary to guide worship and education using the resources of Seasons of the Spirit. Worship Ways provide liturgies on themes for Sundays thorughout the church year and may be used to provide denomination specific connection to any curriculum resources.
Sometimes you want to know how to connect a specific office at the Church House in Cleveland or you want to know who on your Conference staff might provide information to you. The links below can direct you to the right person. The education institutions related to the United Church of Christ provide a wealth of information which may be used in your church's education program. Your Conference Resource Center has many resources which are available on loan to use in your program.
Resources to Order
The links below provide information about videos, books, and curricula which you may purchase for your church's ministry of teaching.
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Defend the rights of the poor and needy. —Proverbs 31:8-9
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 to take from orphans what really belongs to them. —Isaiah 10:1-2
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. —Isaiah 58:6-10
Two central themes run through the Bible concerning justice. The first is God's all-encompassing love, concern, and mercy for all human beings. The second is our responsibility to love God's earth and to care for God's people.
God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and instructed them to care for it. In the story of Cain and Abel, God sent the clear message that we are, indeed, our brother's and sister's keeper. In the tradition of the exodus from Egypt, we learn of God's compassionate response to misery, oppression, and slavery. God's law not only calls for individual piety but also communal responsibility for the well-being of all.
God never asks us to love only those with whom we are intimately acquainted, but instead a more difficult love is required. Over and over, the law instructs Israelites to remember the stranger, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow those most vulnerable to hunger and poverty and ties this instruction to the exodus.
Look at Deuteronomy:
When you gather your crops and fail to bring in some of the grain that you have cut, do not go back for it; it is to be left for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. . . . When you have gathered your grapes once, do not go back over the vines a second time; the grapes that are left are for the foreigners, orphans and widows. Never forget that you were slaves in Egypt; that is why I have given you this command. (24:19-22)
Other laws provided for sharing one-tenth of the harvest with immigrants, orphans and widows (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), for lending at no interest to those in need (Exodus 22:25), and for the cancellation of debts every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15:1-2, 7-11). Every fiftieth year was to be a Year of Jubilee during which property was to be returned to the family of the original owner. The intent of this law, which may never have been carried out, was to prevent the concentration of wealth and make sure that each family had the means to feed itself.
The prophets, too, insisted on justice for everyone. Amos, for example, denounced those who trampled on the needy and destroyed the poor in order to gain wealth. He railed against those who lived in luxury while the poor were being crushed. The prophets' main judgments were leveled against idolatry and social injustice. The living God insists on personal morality and social justice, while idols offer prosperity without social responsibility.
The Psalms invite us to celebrate God's justice.
God always keeps promises; God judges in favor of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. (146:6-7) Happy are those who are concerned for the poor; the Lord will help them when they are in trouble. (41:1 TEV)
The wisdom literature in the Old Testament expresses the same theme, as these texts from Proverbs indicate:
If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry will not be heard. (21:13) Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Defend the rights of the poor and needy. (31:8-9)
Concern for poor, hungry and vulnerable people is pervasive in the Hebrew Scriptures. It flows directly from the revelation of God through the rescue of an enslaved people.
Jesus: Our model of love, peace, and justice
The justice ethic of Jesus is built upon the foundation of Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, as Christians, our understanding of liberation emerges from the divine act of salvation the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" conquered sin and death for us, we are forgiven, reconciled to God, born anew to be imitators of God, called to sacrificial love for others. Through the gift of eternal life, Jesus sets us free to make the doing of good our purpose in life (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The example of Jesus is our guide and inspiration. He had a special sense of mission to poor and oppressed people evidence that, in him, the messianic promises were being fulfilled. At the outset of his ministry, Jesus stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth and read from the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
The gospels depict Jesus repeatedly reaching out to those at the bottom of the social pyramid--poor people, women, Samaritans, lepers, children, prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus was also eager to accept people who were well-placed, but he made clear that all, regardless of social position, needed to repent. For this reason, he invited the rich young lawyer to sell all of his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor.
Jesus expanded the traditional meaning of the word "neighbor"—defining our neighbor as anyone who is in need including social outcasts. (Luke 10:25-37) Moreover, Jesus calls us to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies. (Matthew 5:44)
In his portrayal of the day of judgment, Jesus pictured people from all nations gathered before him. To the "sheep" he says, "Come you blessed of my Father, for I was hungry and you fed me. . . ." In their astonishment they ask, "When did we do that?" And he answers, "When you did it to the lowliest of my brothers (and sisters)." Conversely, to the "goats" he says, "Out of my sight, you who are condemned, for I was hungry and you did not feed me. . . ." (Matthew 25:31-46, paraphrased)
Clearly, in both Old and New Testaments the intention of God that all people find a place at the table is combined with a responsibility on our part for those who are most vulnerable, those most often kept from the table. This intention flows from the heart of God, who reaches out in love to all of us--rich, poor and in between.
Advocating for justice
Churches are already doing a lot to take care of needy people directly through charity work. By one estimate, religious congregations give $7 billion each year (about one-seventh of their total revenue) to people in need (New York Times, 1995). But Christians devote much less effort to influencing what governments do.
God, however, requires both charity and justice, and justice can often be achieved only through the mechanism of government. The view that nations, as well as individuals, will be judged by the way they treat the weakest and most vulnerable among them is deeply embedded in the witness of prophets such as Isaiah, who said:
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 to take from orphans what really belongs to them. (Isaiah 10:1-2)
Jesus criticized and disobeyed laws when they got in the way of helping people. He healed people on the sabbath, for example, even though all work was prohibited on the sabbath. Religion and government were intermixed, so Jesus was challenging the law of the land. The threat Jesus posed to both religious and political authorities led to his crucifixion. Government is not the only or always the best instrument to deal with injustice. But it is one of the institutions created by God part of God's providence for the welfare of people. Because we live in a democracy, a nation with a government "of the people," we have a special privilege and responsibility to use the power of our citizenship to promote public justice and reduce hunger.
Compiled and edited by the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, with adapted selections from Grace At the Table: Ending Hunger in God's World, written by David Beckmann and Art Simon for Bread for the World (1999: Paulist Press and Intervarsity Press) Used with permission.
Advocating for human sexuality education and justice is an important first step for people of faith to take as they begin to plan a ministry of human sexuality in their communities.
The Advocacy Manual for Sexuality Education, Health and Justice is a helpful manual for advocates of comprehensive sexuality education - education that enables young people and their families to obtain accurate information, articulate their values, develop relationship skills, and exercise responsibility in sexual relationships. It is a co-publication of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. It may be purchased from the United Church of Christ at anytime by calling 1-800-537-3394.
The Advocacy Manual for Sexuality Education, Health and Justice contains a variety of practical resources for introducing a comprehensive sexuality education program like Our Whole Lives in your congregation or community, as well as background information on sexuality education and its connection to spiritual and sexual health. Whether you are a parent, educator, student, clergyperson or lay leader, this resource will encourage you to employ your moral and religious values in advocating for comprehensive sexuality education.
Sarah Gibb worked with the Sexuality Education Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ from 1997-2001. Having grown up in congregations that provided faith-based sexuality education, she has witnessed the positive effects of the partnership between congregations and families in helping young people make healthy choices. As Outreach Coordinator for the Task Force, her work focused on building advocacy for comprehensive sexuality education among people of faith. Sarah has also worked with communities organizations on setting up training events for the use of Our Whole Lives. She has completed her Masters of Divinity degree from Harvard University's School of Divinity and works for the Unitarian Universalist Association.
By Elizabeth M. Casparian, Ph. D.,
and Eva S. Goldfarb, Ph.D
Our Whole Lives 4-6, designed for use by parents, teachers and pastors with either a grades 4-5 groups or a grades 5-6 groups (or just one of these grades), helps participants learn about and discuss the physical and emotional changes of puberty. The program offers accurate, unbiased information on human sexuality to preteens who need it to make responsible decisions and stay healthy. The first session includes both parents and children. Following sessions may involve parents in class and include a Home Link message from The Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives that connects classroom and home and engages parents and children in conversation about sexuality. Participants also read Robie Harris's best-selling book, It's Perfectly Normal.
Eva Goldfarb, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in health programs at Montclair State University where she teaches and conducts research in human sexuality, curriculum development, and evaluation of health education programs. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has over twelve years of experience teaching courses, leading workshops, consulting on media projects, conducting seminars and developing curricula in the areas of human sexuality and sexual health. Goldfarb holds a doctorate in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Casparian, Ph.D., has been a consultant in health and sexuality education for over eleven years, writing and developing teaching materials and videos, and leading training sessions and seminars with adolescents, parents, teachers and other professionals. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has written and consulted on sexual health issues with universities, public service organizations and schools. Casparian holds a doctorate in Education Leadership in Human Sexuality from the University of Pennsylvania.
By Barbara Sprung
Our Whole Lives K-1 supports parents, teachers and pastors in educating children about birth and sexuality. The program affirms all kinds of families and helps children identify and avoid sexual abuse. Activities include stories, songs, arts and crafts. Each session includes a Home Link message from The Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives that links classroom and home, promoting conversation between parents and children about sexuality.
Barbara Sprung is co-founder and co-director of Educational Equity Concepts, Inc., a national nonprofit organization that conducts research and develops programs and resources to eliminate bias due to gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and socio-economic status. She has authored childhood education resources including Learning About Family Life, a K-3 curriculum; Quit It, a K-3 teacher's guide addressing teasing and bullying; and two preteen books, Preteen Pressures: Stress and Preteen Pressures: Death. Sprung holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and an M.A. in Child Development.
By Patricia Hoertdoerfer
This guide is designed to help parents (and other loving caretakers) respond to children's questions and concerns about sexuality. It includes information about the sexual development of children and tools to help children grow up in sexually healthy ways. It is intended to guide, inform, and prepare parents for roles as sexuality educators. Each age-level program guide includes a summary of the topics of each session, question parents often ask and possible responses, and examples of how to take advantage of "teachable moments." The questions and teachable moments may be directly or indirectly related to each session.
There is a Ceremonies and Celebrations section that provides descriptions of ceremonies parents may wish to use for family celebrations. A glossary of terms used in both Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 and Our Whole Lives for Grades 4-6is included. The resource section includes resources required for the program, suggested resources for young children, older children, and parents and families.
The Reverend Patricia Hoertdoerfer, author of The Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives Grades K-1 and 4-6, is a Unitarian Universalist minister of religious education. She serves as the director of children's programs and family ministry for the Unitarian Universalist Association.
UCC New Church Development Basic Planting Check List
A Guidebook for Planting New Congregations
A Guidebook for Planting New Congregations in the United Church of Christ.
God is Still Speaking through new churches in the United Church of Christ today.
The Guidebook may be downloaded here -
Complete Guidebook [PDF]
64 pages (301k)
Table of Contents/Introduction [PDF]
Part 1 - Seeking Leaders [PDF]
We need leaders who seek to be empowered by the Holy Spirit
Part 2 - Stirring [PDF]
Are you utterly convinced the Holy Spirit has called you to develop a new church?
Part 3 - Equipping [PDF]
God speaks to church planters
Part 4 - Financing [PDF]
Building trust around money issues is important pastoral work in new church development
Part 5 - Launching [PDF]
To claim covenantal partnership with the United Church of Christ requires an understanding of the denomination's policies and polity.
Part 6 - Challenging [PDF]
The Body of Christ is strengthened as new churches are born in our midst
Guidebook Bible Study Scriptures [PDF]
United Church of Christ Resources [PDF]
The Guidebook is a tool for:
United Church of Christ Conferences and Associations.
Committees on New Church Development.
New Church Pastors.
Potential New Church Planters
Core Group Members of a New Church Initiative.
Seminaries teaching about Evangelism and New Church Development.
Ecumenical Partners planting churches with the United Church of Christ.
And more . . .
We celebrate this new resource in the United Church of Christ! It is so timely to the The Stillspeaking Initiative. In December 2004 and January 2005, the Evangelism Ministry Team responded to the more than 320 email questions that came from the Find a Church Website.
41% of the emails came from people who could not find a church or had a question about a church in their neighborhood.
50% of those emails turned into "there is no church" in this community (21% of the total emails)
3% of the emails expressed interest in starting a new church!
The Stillspeaking Initiative has not only given great witness to a message of hope and extravagant welcome in the name of Jesus. It has given an invaluable visibility to the United Church of Christ, and it is also giving us invaluable information about the location and demand for new church development. The challenge before us is to begin communities of the still speaking God where there are none. What perfect timing for this resource and guidebook in that journey!
Use it! Order more copies for your people at United Church Press
Look for additional updates as new chapters are written.
Also Coming Soon ... Church Renewal Workbook!
The Executive Council of the UCC recommends that local churches, associations and conferences "initiate programs of study and dialog with regard to the implications (meanings) of human sexuality, in all its mystery, at its broadest and deepest levels in the theological context." (EC, October 1973, Cited in "Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study," 1977)
The Tenth General Synod asks the Executive Council "to commission a study concerning the dynamics of human sexuality...to be presented to the Eleventh General Synod." (75-GS-65, Minutes, 1975, p.68.)
The eleventh General Synod receives the report, "Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study"; commends it to congregations, associations, conferences and instrumentalities for study and response; and asks the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries "to continue to provide leadership in developing resources concerning human sexuality for appropriate use by various age groups in local churches and to provide consultative services and training for conferences, associations and congregations who wish to sponsor programs concerned with human sexuality and family life." A minority report is also issued. (77-GS-64. Minutes, 1977, pp. 65-66. Also: pp. 75-76.)
Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study—United Church of Christ is published by the UCBHM. (New York: United Church Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8209- 0341-6.)
The Twelfth General Synod forms a "National Task Force" on human sexuality to "encourage and facilitate the continuing study of human sexuality by all congregations, associations, conferences and other groups within the church," to "identify, test, and publicize various models of study" and to report to the Synod in four years. (79-GS-40. Minutes, 1979, p.60.)
The Thirteenth General Synod names "Family Life" one of four "priorities" in the UCC and designates UCBHM as coordinator of this work in the national setting.
The Fourteenth General Synod adopts the report of the National Task Force and asks UCBHM to "develop resources on human sexuality for use in local churches" and to "collect and continue to update information about the nature of human sexuality, including variations in sexual orientation and behavior, seeking to provide material appropriate for use with all age groups and making this information available for study by churches." (83-GS-34. Minutes, 1983, 47.)
At its January meeting, the Executive Committee of the UCBHM Board of Directors commits the UCBHM to a three-year initiative to fulfill the request of the Fourteenth General Synod.
A UCBHM survey, "Ask the Churches About Faith and Sexuality," receives responses from some 3,000 members of 75 local churches within 11 U.S. areas, chosen in cooperation with UCC conferences. Respondents answer questions about their sexuality-related needs, past and present; availability and adequacy of sources of help in meeting these needs; their beliefs concerning the role of the church; specific recommendations regarding helpful programs and resources; and desired kinds of assistance. Eighty-three percent say they want help from their church in addressing human-sexuality questions and concerns.
The Fifteenth General Synod of the UCC called upon United Church of Christ congregations to declare themselves open and affirming by encouraging congregations to adopt a policy of non-discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and to adopt a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation.
UCBHM develops and field-tests a new human-sexuality learning program for adults, Created in God's Image—A Human Sexuality Program for Ministry and Mission.
Sensing common ground and overlapping needs for resources on human sexuality, the UCBHM and the Unitarian Universalist Association convene a Sexuality Education Task Force "to create a vision for a positive and comprehensive life-span sexuality education program." Throughout its work, the Sexuality Education Task Force was guided by these words from its philosophy statement: "We come together as representatives of two denominations to create a vision for a positive and comprehensive life-span sexuality education program... a safe environment within which people can come to understand and respond to the challenges facing them as sexual beings."
At the Eighteenth General Synod, a Resolution is voted, affirming the ministries of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians. An amendment, offered from the floor by a conference minister and approved, "urgently calls upon the local churches, associations and conferences to engage in a disciplined dialog" on the biblical and theological foundations for being open-and-affirming, and requests that instrumentalities "provide study resources for the United Church of Christ." (91-GS-66, Minutes, p. 71.)
Staff reports of UCBHM's Divisional Committees for the Division of the American Missionary Association and Division of Education and Publication begin to include updates about action concerning the work of the ecumenical Sexuality Education Task Force.
After drafting, field-testing and revision, Created in God's Image—A Human Sexuality Program for Ministry and Mission is published and in consultation with conferences, UCBHM continues to offer regional and conference trainings for the teaching of this resource. Copies of the resource are mailed to all UCC resource centers. The program, for adults, is led by trained facilitators.
The original UCBHM-UUA Sexuality Education Task Force completes its work and issues its findings. It recommends that the two denominations jointly publish a life-span learning program in human sexuality for use in local churches. In the UCC, the recommendations are shared with the Executive Vice President, General Secretaries, and Boards of Directors of the American Missionary Association and the Division of Education and Publication. Reports of findings, and/or announcements about a new sexuality education program in development, are shared at Created in God's Image regional and conference trainings.
UCBHM Board authorizes staff to pursue a jointly published human sexuality learning program with the Unitarian Universalist Association and grants permission to seek outside funding sources.
A new UCBHM-UUA Sexuality Education Task Force is formed to develop new materials which eventually come to be identified as Our Whole Lives. Funds are raised (including grants from the Martin Foundation, Ford Foundation, Turner Foundation and others); authors are interviewed and hired; and details of production, field testing, revision and other steps are planned.
Program Values and Assumptions are shared in a workshop at the UCC "Children and the Church" event at Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, MO.
An author is engaged to write Junior High and Senior High religious companion materials.
Two presentations are made to the Educational Advisory Committee on Our Whole Lives and religious companion materials, concerning its implementation and future plans. Among the committee members present for the presentations are two UCC conference ministers.
An author is engaged to write religious companion materials for Grade K-1 and Grades 4-6.
Thirty-four local church people received training and 10 UCC congregations field-test the Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12 portions of Our Whole Lives. The learning programs are revised, based on evaluations from the test sites. Updates are given in many settings of the UCC using various methods of communication: Calendar of Prayer, United Church News, brochures, workshops, letters, General Synod, etc. A selection procedure to find trainers begins. Ethnic ministries and conferences are contacted for suggestions. The pieces of the resource are developed and continue to be revised.
Communication with conferences continues, United Church News carries an in-depth article (May 1999, p. 5.) Twenty-six UCC trainers are carefully selected and trained in all grades of the resource. In addition, several community people and UUA members are trained. The final training is held in March of 2000.
May—the children, youth and adult resources of the comprehensive Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith program are published and training of local churches begins. July—Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ becomes the ministry that continues the work of UCBHM in the area of human sexuality education. August—all Conference Ministers received a full set of Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith. They are encouraged to house these resources in a resource center where folk could review them. September—Minister for Children, Families and Human Sexuality Advocacy, Justice and Witness Ministries, begins work in the national setting of the UCC.
Communication continues between all settings of the UCC—training continues for UCC churches. Interested people are encouraged to be in dialog with their associations and conferences in organizing training events. Trainings are held and more are being planned. The UUA and UCC continue to work together to facilitate trainings and have had additional trainings for trainers.
The Young Adult Our Whole Lives Resource (ages 18-35) is published by the UUA. Six UCC people are trained as trainers as well as 16 UUA. The Young Adult Our Whole Lives UCC companion resource, Sexuality and Our Faith, is written by Rev. T. Michael Rock and Ms. Lynn Young.
The Adult Our Whole Lives UCC companion resource, Sexuality and Our Faith, is written by Rev. T. Michael Rock and Ms. Lynn Young. Over 1100 UCC adults have been trained as facilitators in the use of Our Whole Lives resources.
La Misión Educativa de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
A la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
La Misión Educativa de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
Hacia una Visión de la Educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
Medios Donde Ocurre el Aprendizaje
Educación a Traves de la Vida
Un Llamado al Diálogo
A la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
¿Cuál es el centro de la vida de la Iglesia? ¿Qué es lo que predicamos y enseñamos? ¿Cuál es el "corazón" del evangelio?
Predicamos a Cristo crucificado, a Cristo como el poder y la sabiduría de Dios."Porque lo insensato de Dios es más sabio que los hombres y lo débil de Dios es más fuerte que los hombres". (I Cor. 1:23-25). En la cruz de Cristo, Dios reconcilió al mundo consigo mismo. En el momento más obscuro de la historia humana, la luz fue revelada, las vidas transformadas y la reconciliación es un hecho.
¿Cómo predica y enseña la Iglesia, hoy? Allan Boesak el gran teólogo y líder negro de Sur Africa, ha dicho: "La reconciliación no es sentirse bién; es una lucha contra el mal.
Para poder reconciliar, Cristo murió. No podemos engañarnos. La reconciliación no significa tomarnos de las manos y cantar: "Negros y blancos unidos". Significa morir y sufrir; ofrecer nuestra vida por el bien de los otros. (Negro y reformado, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1984, pág. 29).
No todo lo que enseñamos en las iglesias es correcto. No se escucha el mensaje de reconciliación y transformación; y sus implicaciones no se entienden. La gracia y la verdad no han redimido el sufrimiento de muchos seres humanos. La Iglesia, las congregaciones, incluyendo muchos ministros y muchas ministras, han perdido contacto con el lenguaje, símbolos y textos de la fe. Muchas personas se sienten faltos de conocimiento e inarticulados en su fe. Los sistemas educativos han fracasado debido a lo individualizados y fragmentados que son. Puede ser un fracaso de la Iglesia; ser precisamente la Iglesia—ser Cristo visible y encarnado, ser un agente de reconciliación en el mundo. Pero, parte del fracaso radica en los ministerios educativos de la Iglesia, y el pueblo de Dios está pidiendo un cambio.
Dentro de la "Iglesia Unida de Cristo (UCC)", la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos (UCBHM), a través de la División de Educación y Publicación, tiene la responsabilidad de los ministerios educativos de la Iglesia.
En 1985, la Junta de Directores de la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos, adoptó su posición sobre la misión; al hacer un llamamiento hacia una reforma profunda y creativa en los ministerios educativos de la Iglesia. Esta visión e intención nos hace pensar sobre lo inadecuado del sistema educativo, tanto en la teoría como en la práctica y el exceso de dependencia en la iglesia local como única responsable de la educación. Reconoce la necesidad urgente de las personas, iglesias locales e instituciones en redescubrir el lenguaje de la fe y en reclamar el poder transformador y reconciliador.
Durante el otoño del 1986, la División de Educación y Publicación comenzó a desarrollar "el concepto educativo; su programa y los recursos adecuados" para los ministerios educativos de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo.
Los siguientes pasos han sido emprendidos hacia ese fin:
Se han llevado a cabo estudios y discusiones para explorar necesidades y posibilidades para la educación.
Se desarrolló el lema de "Hacia una visión de la educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo".
Dicho lema será discutido en varios lugares durante la primavera de 1989, con atención particular en las preguntas sugeridas.
En mayo de 1989, el componente de la División de Educación y Publicación radicará propuestas para programas y recursos para la consideración de la Junta de Directores de la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos, y grupos subsiguientes tales como: instituciones e iglesias locales. La tarea asignada se completará en 1989 y comenzará el plan para su implantación.
Miramos hacia el 1990, como una década de reforma y renovación de los ministerios educativos. Bajo esa expectativa ofrecemos este documento para reflexión y discusión. Le invitamos a participar en el proceso, su respuesta a este documento, y sobre todo su compromiso con la educación equipa la Iglesia para el ministerio.
La Misión Educativa de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
La División de Educación y Publicación, es la división programática responsable de los ministerios educativos de la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos. Está estructurada para que esta misión educativa produzca un alcance integral en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo. La tarea de la división es el desarrollo de un concepto educativo, el programa y los recursos adecuados basados en:
Conocimiento de cómo se capacita la Iglesia para educar las personas en su vida cristiana, su fe y discipulado, además de otros medios tales como: la escuela bíblica, vida congregacional y educación superior.
Alcances que no estén limitados al conocimiento sobre el ciclo de la vida humana o elementos culturales y ecológicos que afectan el aprendizaje humano.
El mandato anterior de la División de Educacióny Publicación adoptado por la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en 1985, provee el impulso y el contexto para el argumento que continúa.
La Iglesia como "cuerpo de Cristo", es una señal de sanidad y esperanza en un mundo fragmentado. Como miembros de ese cuerpo se nos ha confiado el mensaje de reconciliación y hemos sido hechos mayordomos de los misterios de Dios. (2 Cor.5:19; lCor. 4:1)
Hacia una Visión de la Educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo
El corazón humano esta necesitado de propósito y significado para sus vidas.
La Iglesia esta enmarcada por su visión, dirección y arrojo. La gente, tanto de adentro como de afuera, necesitan conocer las Escrituras, articular su fe y apreciar claramente la relación entre el evangelio y la realidad del mundo.
La Junta de Ministerios Domésticos de la Iglesia Unidade Cristo, al reconocer los cambios rápidos y radicales que ocurren en el orden natural y social, la ausencia de visión en la sociedad y el silencio frecuente de los cristianos y cristianas, llama a una renovación en el compromiso con la educación que equipe a los santos para el ministerio, (Ef. 4:12) Y señala la necesidad urgente en la transformación de las personas y nuestra vida común.
La Junta de Ministerios Domésticos, presenta una visión de la educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo, en la cual todos y todas se comprometan a aprender através de la vida en una variedad de medios.
Dicha visión requiere reformar la misión educativa de la Iglesia, la trayectoria histórica del ministro y la ministra como maestro y maestra, el compromiso del laicado en los ministerios educativos de la Iglesia. Perseguimos clarificar esta visión a través de la discusión, reflexión y acción que involucre toda la Iglesia Unida de Cristo; sus congregaciones y parroquias, conferencias y asociaciones, agencias e instituciones, ministerios y misión.
Por lo cual, afirmamos los siguientes principios fundamentales:
La misión de la iglesia comienza con Dios, quien crea, sostiene y redime el mundo y la vida.
Las personas de todas las edades y condiciones están alimentadas por la continua incursión en la fe y la experiencia cristiana; como también, por la constante búsqueda de sabiduría, justicia y belleza en la sociedad.
Los fundamentos para la misión educativa de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo son:
El pacto de Dios con Israel y el testimonio apostólico de Jesucristo.
La naturaleza, propósito y fe de la Iglesia.
La presencia reformadora del Espíritu Santo.
La historia y tradiciones de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo.
El entendimiento cristiano del ser humano y la sociedad.
El milenio social y cultural del mundo en el cual nosotros vivimos.
En cada nueva era, la Iglesia debe buscar modelos y métodos educativos que respondan y dirijan el cambio.
Dios nos enseña a través de fuentes inesperadas. Por lo tanto, los cristianos y las cristianas debemos abrirnos a todas las personas que persigan y sirvan a la verdad.
La educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo está reforzada y formada por la diversidad racial, étnica, cultural y geográfica de sus miembros.
La educación en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo debe tener sus raíces en la historia bíblica de la fe cristiana, en el llamado al discipulado cristiano y en la revelación transformadora de Dios en nuestro tiempo.
A la luz de esta visión y principios, la Junta de Ministerios Domésticos de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo, insiste en la necesidad de una reforma y una renovación de los ministerios educativos; y que la educación de la vida, la fe y el discipulado cristiano surga de la atención a la variedad de medios y temas a través de la vida.
Medios Donde Ocurre el Aprendizaje
El aprendizaje surje en una variedad de medios. Invitamos a la Iglesia Unida de Cristo a estudiar los medios donde la educación pueda señalar las necesidades de nuestro tiempo y las esperanzas y posibilidades del futuro.
Hacemos un llamado a la Iglesia a observar los talentos que hay en las congregaciones como escuela de fe y a mantener y apoyar su energía vital.
Otros medios incluyen los hogares, comunidad parroquial, escuelas; así como lugares de trabajo, lugares de belleza natural y artística y de acción social. Nuevos tiempos y medios, pueden proveer oportunidades de enseñanza-aprendizaje en la fe cristiana.
Al invitarles, afirmamos:
Que existen muchos medios para educar integradamente; y variedad de oportunidades para que el Espíritu de Dios se mueva y transforme.
Atender seriamente, la amalgama de medios (lugares, circunstancias) a través de los cuales la gente vive, enseña y aprende.
Interrogantes constantes y urgentes surgirán sobre la existencia humana en los diferentes medios.
Nuevas disposiciones para la enseñanza-aprendizaje llevarán a respuestas educativas creativas.
Educación a través de la Vida
El aprendizaje es importante a través de la vida. Invitamos a la Iglesia Unida de Cristo a unirse a nosotros y a nosotras en el que hacer educativo necesario que lleve a las personas a vivir en el amor de Cristo y a discernir el discipulado en sus vidas.
Al hacer ésto, afirmamos:
La educación de los seguidores y seguidoras de Jesucristo, es un proceso a través del cual nuestras vidas se capacitan y se abren al presente y futuro dominio de Dios, al apoyar y promover el discipulado y al enriquecer la vida personal y social.
El aprendizaje ocurre en una variedad de formas: estudio y reflexión, en acción y meditación, en práctica y disciplina, en la adoración y los sacramentos, en oración y celebración.
Las realidades y necesidades de la vida, son momentos para aprender, p.e., al lidiar con las crisis sociales y personales de la vida; al luchar con problemas morales; al investigar el significado de la vocación cristiana, respaldar el impacto científico, tecnológico, económico y político de los individuos y naciones, y al reconocer y al oponernos a toda injusticia.
Un Llamado al Diálogo
Esta visión emergente y de reforma continua de la misión educativa de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo, requiere la imaginación y creatividad de todos y todas en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo y sus colegas en la educación. Puede haber reforma si proviene del sentido de necesidad y posibilidad. Por tanto, llamamos a un diálogo, así como vamos en pos de la visión.