Research shows that nine churches close every day throughout the United States. To help guide congregations thought this often difficult process, the United Church of Christ has introduced a new resource for churches facing the prospect of closure.Read more
- Updated guidelines on how National, International and Regional partners can support Ugandan LGBTI Persons and their allies from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), a coalition in Uganda.
General Synod Resolution
In July of 2011, the 28th General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution, "Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". The purpose of the resolution is to raise awareness of international instances of systematic discrimination, violence and abuse targeting persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI), and of contexts where such abuse is not prohibited by law but rather legally, politically, socially, and even religiously sanctioned.
The resolution advocates for the Yogyakarta Principles and thus, commits the United Church of Christ to advocate for the fair and equal application of universal human rights principles and laws toward the protection of all persons from sexual or gender status-based abuse, discrimination or criminal prosecution.
In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. They promise a different future where all people born free andequal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright.
Concrete guidance for church leaders charged with borrowing money. Borrowing from banks can be challenging and expensive, especially in times like these when banks are restrictive in their lending policies. But UCC Congregations have better options… two extraordinary UCC Financial Ministries can help.
The Local Church Ministries Church Building & Loan Fund makes loans to new UCC congregations who wish to build or buy their first house of worship. Loans of up to $2,000,000 are made at below market interest rates. CBLF also partners with other lenders to finance larger projects.
In addition, the Church Building & Loan Fund will work with local UCC congregations and their conferences toward the goal of financial self sufficiency that will qualify churches for their first loan through its Partners in Building program.
For all UCC congregations, CB&LF can answer questions about building and loan related issues and provide helpful resources. Do you know the “Do’s and Don’ts for Church Cell Tower Leases”?... that’s just an example.
Contact the Church Building & Loan Fund at: (216) 736-3834
Borrowing and investing join hands in the UCC Cornerstone Fund. It was created to offer loans to UCC churches and other UCC-related organizations for virtually any property-related project (repair, remodel, acquire land, build). The Borrowing FAQ offers details including details of the Interest Rate Rebate Program.
Working much like a bank, the Cornerstone Fund offers interest-bearing investments to United Church of Christ churches and members – and that principal is used in turn to fund loans to other churches and organizations throughout the denomination. By participating in the Cornerstone Fund, investors enjoy a competitive rate of return, while ensuring funds are always available to churches seeking to make capital improvements. This link also offers information about the EcoLoan and Revolving Line of Credit.
Contact the Cornerstone Fund at (888) 822-3863.
The United Church of Christ coin symbolizes the covenant relationship between the church and its chaplains serving in the Armed Forces, Department of Veterans Affairs and Federal Bureau of Prisons. It is presented as a mark of trust and an expression of gratitude.
The seal of the UCC is imprinted on one side of the coin. Around the seal is a sunburst, signifying that our church's inclusive expression of the Gospel is to "shine forth" in the chaplain's ministry. The words called, chosen, and sent forth to serve remind a chaplain that (s)he is called by God to this specialized ministry, chosen to represent the United Church of Christ, and sent forth to be God's servant in the service of others.
The reverse side of the coin bears the seals of the government entities to which the UCC chaplains are endorsed. In the center of the coin is a globe, surrounded by compass points, symbolizing that these ministries are provided in the U.S. and abroad. The words of appreciation on the outer ring acknowledge that government chaplains serve both God and country, creating a relationship that must always be held in dynamic tension.
Liturgical and Pastoral Resources:
The War and Pastoral Care of Soldiers, Military Families, and Chaplains
Holy Joe's Café Coffee House Ministry
Homemade Camouflage Stoles
Order for Reaffirming the Covenant between a Pastor and Congregation upon return of a pastor from service as a chaplain. A number of military chaplains endorsed by the United Church of Christ serve in the National Guard or Reserves. Some of these chaplains are also local church pastors. For the past several years, a number of these pastors have been mobilized for lengthy deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. Once their deployments are over, the chaplains usually return to their parishes to resume their ministries. Just as they go through a period of readjustment as they rejoin their families, they also need to readjust to being pastors again. It is important to understand this, and to recognize that it's part of the relationship between the pastor/chaplain and the church.
Chaplain Deris Rice, an Army Reserve chaplain who served in Iraq, worked with the Rev. Jeanny House, his Associate Conference Minister (Northwest Association, Wisconsin Conference), to produce a liturgy that would help reestablish his relationship with his congregation. The edited version of this liturgy, available on this page, is suitable for use by other congregations. We are grateful to Chaplain Rice and Rev. House for their original liturgy and for granting permission to offer the edited version for your use.
News of UCC Military Chaplains:
Government organizations for specialized ministry:
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP): www.bop.gov
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): www.va.gov/chaplain
U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service: www.usafhc.af.mil
U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains: www.chapnet.army.mil
U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps: www.chaplaincare.navy.mil
Military Chaplains Association (MCA): www.mca-usa.org
Affirmative action is a policy or a program promoting the representation in social institutions of groups of people who have been traditionally and systematically discriminated against.
As people of faith who strive to cultivate the Beloved Community, our General Synod supports affirmative action, because our nation cannot be completely free without all people’s sharing the same rights and equal access to opportunities for advancement and equitable treatment. It is about more than diversity, for it is in fact a moral obligation to racial equity.
Why is it an issue of faith?
All people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The history and legacy of discrimination in our social institutions denies honor to God. We are called to do justice, love kindness and work humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We are called to repentance and reconciliation by remedying the destructive impacts of systematic and compounded discriminations accumulated across generations.
Aren’t we “post-racial” yet?
The term "post-racial" may be used by individuals to express their sincere intention and desire that there is no more racism in our society. However, it does not describe the reality of racial disparities found in education, employment, housing, health and so on. It does not speak to the destructive impact of institutional rules, policies and structures that appear on the surface to be race-neutral in discrete entities (e.g. schools, districts). Structural racism is the cumulative effect of racial inequity in multiple institutions over time, and that is what Affirmative Action seeks to remedy.
UCC Social Policy Statements
The UCC historic policy based for Affirmative Action can be found in the General Synod resolutions regarding racial justice in 1971; racial and economic justice, women in church and society in 1975, implementation in the UCC, the church and persons with handicaps in 1979. The commitment to Affirmative Action in Church and Society was reaffirmed in 1981, and in 1995 in light of Supreme Court decisions.
1. Doesn’t affirmative action reward unmotivated people to get ahead in life?
Affirmative action only provides equal access and the fair chance to achieve success for underrepresented groups. It cannot guarantee that they will succeed, only that they are given the same opportunities that the White majority has. In reality, many underrepresented people can testify that they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves.
2. Doesn’t affirmative action justify the hiring or admission of under-qualified candidates?
Among qualified candidates, school should be allowed to choose based on their institutional goal of increasing diversity. At a deeper level, the history and legacy of systematic discrimination means that our society is not purely based on individual merit. People of color, women and the disabled have been put in positions by institutions that have not allowed them to maximize their full potential, and it would be unfair to judge people solely by their individual qualifications.
3. Doesn’t affirmative action punish Whites today for what happened hundreds of years ago?
While Whites today and virtually all of their ancestors never owned slaves, they benefit directly and indirectly from systematic racial discrimination. They have less competition for school admission, jobs and government programs, which helped propelled many Whites and their descendants into the middle and upper classes.
Many non-Whites and their descendants were and still are systematically left behind and denied the same basic educational, economic, and other opportunities. The wide gap created by a racialized system which promoted the dominant culture, mostly White male, for several hundred years unfortunately would take time to be closed adequately, so that eventually all candidates can be judged soley on their individual merit.
God is still speaking through and to the United Church of Christ. Members and congregations are claiming and embracing God's call to evangelism. Evangelism is vital for the future of the United Church of Christ. God is saying to the United Church of Christ to be ready and set to grow in witness, outreach and welcome.
Evangelism Ministry proclaims the gospel in the world and the church, as well as, starts, nurtures, strengthens and renews congregations in partnership with Conferences.
Evangelism Ministry works with The Congregational Vitality Initiative to provide resources and workshop for vital congregations to be ready and set to grow in discerning God's mission, understanding community and culture, and nurturing discipleship of witness, outreach and welcome.
The response to The Still Speaking Ministry has shown that Now is the Time for New Church Development in the United Church of Christ. In partnership with Conferences, the Now is the Time Vision and Strategy calls for a growth toward 250 new churches by 2011 and more than 1,600 new churches by 2021. Developing leadership for new churches is necessary. This summer the second Leadership Institute for New Church Planters will be held in Atlanta in August. Potential new church planters can assess their gifts for new church development using an Assessment Tool available through Evangelism Ministry. Evangelism Ministry works in partnership with Local Church Ministries Church Building & Loan to prepare new churches to become Partners in Building. Evangelism Ministry provides funding for new and renewing congregations in partnership with Conferences.
Please browse our listing of resources that you can use to lift up Evangelism in your local congregtion.
As well, take the time to read a brief message from Minister and Team Leader, the Rev. David Schoen.
Churches Growing Churches
On-line resource partners
Visit the links below for additional Evangelism resources:
Blessings as you get ready and set to grow to be the evangelist that God is calling you to be!
Welcome to SAMUEL/SERMON SEEDS
"Speak, for your servant is listening...." (1 Samuel 3:10)
|New from The Pilgrim Press – order here|
SAMUEL is a sermon preparation resource designed for use with the Revised Common Lectionary. Each week, you’ll find that Sunday’s Lectionary texts and "Sermon Seeds," a reflection on the focus text from the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum. Each week, Sermon Seeds are also adapted as “Weekly Seeds” on ucc.org for Bible study in the local church and for personal devotion and study. Along with the text and reflection, you’ll find a prayer, additional thoughts for reflection, and focus questions for discussion.
The United Church of Christ participates in the Consultation on Common Texts, which has designed the Revised Common Lectionary. For more information on the Lectionary, go to commontexts.org.
Would you like to discuss the sermon you're preparing for this Sunday? You're invited to join us on Facebook at Sermon Seeds (United Church of Christ).
For Lectionary-based worship resources for each Sunday from the United Church of Christ, go to Worship Ways.
SAMUEL is produced by Local Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Resources used in Sermon Seeds.
The Revised Common Lectionary is © Consultation on Common Texts.
Texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of Holy Scripture, © 1989 by The Division of Christian Education, National Council of Churches.
The psalm antiphon is from The New Century Hymnal, © 1995, The Pilgrim Press. Used with permission.
Music for the psalm and antiphon are available in The New Century Hymnal, plus a complete index of hymns appropriate for each Sunday's lectionary readings. To purchase the Hymnal, call 1-800-325-7061 or simply click here.
Enter the Bible a New Web based Bible study from Luther Seminary.