August - September 2007
August 1, 2007

Synod on DVD

Thirty-six presentations from General Synod 26 will are now available on DVD for personal and congregational use.

"In order to keep General Synod alive and share the challenges presented to us by the speakers at Synod in the City, we are offering DVD recordings of 36 different General Synod highlights," said the Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC's director of communication.

Through these taped live performances, people across the church will be able to experience how God is still speaking through various disciplines — including, for example, the artist (He Qi), through the journalist (Leonard Pitts), through the scientist (Ray Kurzweil), through the theologian (Renita Weems).

Hear inspired preaching from the Rev. DaVita Carter McAllister, the Rev. John H. Thomas and Dr. Mary Mikhail. Hear the music of Rachel Barton Pine, the Children's Orchestra, Voices of the Pacific, oikos, and others. Experience the birthday-bash laser show, liturgical dancers, storytellers, processionals and humor.

And don't forget keynoters Barack Obama, Bill Moyers, Lynn Redgrave and Marian Wright Edelman.

"This is a perfect opportunity to share this great experience of the church with others," Chase said. "These DVDs would make perfect holiday gifts or as presents in recognition of service to the church." The cost is $25 each for fi rst DVD; $15 each for two to five DVDs; $10 each for six or more, plus shipping and handling. Please allow up to two to four weeks for delivery. Order online at or call 800/537-3394.

The Real Thing

After the Vatican on July 10 reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, called other Christian churches defective and said Protestant denominations are not even churches "in the proper sense," UCC church leaders responded.

"It is most upsetting to read persistent language, not new yet still distressing, characterizing the Protestant churches as not having 'preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,' thus relegating us to a category of 'ecclesial communities' rather than 'church,'" wrote the Rev. Lydia Veliko, the UCC's ecumenical officer, in a response circulated to UCC Conference Ministers. "However much we may disagree, those of us who have been involved in dialogue with Roman Catholics are quite familiar with this perspective, and understand how Roman Catholics come to this view within the logic of their own ecclesiological convictions. Nevertheless, that the Vatican again feels the need to remind us of this is, at the very least, troubling."

The Vatican statement, which was "ratified and confirmed" by Pope Benedict XVI and published with his approval, reiterates some of the most controversial ideas in a 2000 Vatican declaration published under Benedict's authority when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The four-page document purports to correct "erroneous interpretation" and "misunderstanding" of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which paved the way for ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and other Christian churches.

Veliko, however, remained positive about Catholic-Protestant-Orthodox relationships, especially in the United States.

"We appreciate the many ways in which Roman collaboratively and collegially with Protestant and Orthodox
colleagues, in many cases exhibiting the very best of the ecumenical spirit to which they made visible commitment in the days following Vatican II," she said. "The UCC, as well as many of our partners, have been positively impacted by the Roman Catholic Church's commitment to dialogue in the last 40 years. This work has enhanced the pastoral, liturgical, and theological life of all of our churches."

Welcome Readers

Studies show that Iowa is the most literate state in the union, so it's no wonder that so many smart people there have decided to start reading United Church News.

With this issue, we welcome 19,000 new subscribers from the Iowa Conference, which voted at its annual meeting in June to begin producing an Iowa Conference section that will accompany distribution of the national section to the Conference's mailing list. That's a 10 percent increase in readership for us, and it pushes United Church News' overall circulation to well over 200,000.

In addition, the 4,300-member Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, Texas, conducted a subscription campaign in May. Thus, we also
welcome 500 new households from that congregation alone.

If your church is interested in getting on the bandwagon with increased readership, go to or, for more information, call 800/363-0575.

Now, one more thing, we'd be amiss if we failed to mention that small, white envelope that routinely falls to the floor every time you open a copy of this newspaper. Pick it up. That's what pays for all of this. We much need and appreciate your regular financial support.

Thanks, Synod reporters

The newsroom at General Synod is an around-the-clock operation intended to provide the best coverage possible for five agenda packed, 14-hour programming days.

This issue of United Church News contains only a small faction of the news, features and commentary made available through five "Daily Digests" distributed early each morning at Synod, in addition to online coverage posted at

United Church News extends its biggest thanks to its considerate, competent, and committed staff of volunteer journalists, who gave of their time — without pay — to report on Synod happenings. Those reporters included the Rev. J. Martin Bailey, Michelle Carter, Joanne Griffi th Domingue, the Rev. W. Evan Golder, Tim Kershner and Jeff Woodard.

Volunteer help also was offered at crucial moments from Alice Foltz, Debbie Taylor and Terry Ogawa. George Conklin, known to many for taking the now-famous 1957 "handshake" photo, offered photography and uploads to Worldwide Faith News.

Staff from the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication ministry included the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, editor and newsroom director; Randy Varcho, art director, designer and photographer; Connie Larkman, press liaison and assistant newsroom director; Dan Hazard, web manager and photographer; Michelle May, web designer; and Sherrell Johnson, administrative assistant. Also, Tony Brooks, from the UCC's Information Sytems team, was instrumental in getting our on-site systems up and running.

And a special thanks to you, the reader, for your continued support of our news operation.


Rev. J. Bennett Guess
Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115