Letters to the Editor
December 2008 - January 2009

Praise for 'Steeples' ad

I am writing with much appreciation and admiration for the UCC and the Steeples commercial.

We celebrated the Steeples ad, and honored the UCC, during our congregation's "joys and concerns" Sunday, Oct. 4. One woman mentioned that she could feel the deep sincerity in the UCC's welcome, and was warmed when she heard a favorite childhood song, "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people."

I especially like that the "whoever you are, wherever you are..." expression is in the ad. We repeat that extravagant welcome every Sunday during our services. It is my favorite of the many ways our church is weaving the "Steeples" themes of an extravagant welcome and inclusion into our spiritual practices.

We want to thank the UCC, everyone involved and everyone who supported the "Steeples" project. Thank you for showing everyone just how wide the UCC and its churches open their arms to... all the people!

Denise Leboeuf
Haydenville (Mass.) Congregational UCC

In troubling times - hope

As it is was for so many of us, the news of this week's economic collapse has been hard. I came home so desperate looking for answers and wondering how we, both individually and as a country, could survive. As I sat mulling in my own depression, I saw your message on television that spoke to my heart about the need for understanding and inclusion. Now, more than ever, we need to hear that we are all God's children. Bless you - you made a difference in my life and I'm sure in so many others.

Tom Stevenson
Austin, Texas
via e-mail

Why not Hawaii?

The Rev. Charles Buck's comments about the shift from a Honolulu General Synod in 2011 ("High fuel costs thwart Hawaii location for 2011 General Synod," Oct.-Nov. 2008) are too reserved.

I find it difficult to understand why a community so entrenched in the belief of covenantal relationships can't be responsible enough to budget appropriately for a bigger event such as a Synod in Hawaii, especially, given more than three years to plan for it.

It seems to me the Hawaii UCC Conference has to plan for trips overseas every General Synod, every National Youth Event and every other opportunity that exists within the greater event offerings of the UCC.

I plan on going to Hawaii for General Synod 28, even if it's back on the mainland. I am going to support the Hawaiian UCC family I have come to know and love, from Honolulu to our Big Island friends at First United Protestant UCC in Hilo and South Kohala UCC in Hokuloa.

For all their previous efforts to get to the mainland, they deserve better than this.

The Rev. Greg Larsen
Christ Congregational UCC
Fort Morgan, Colo.

'Thoroughly Niebuhr'

Regarding the questions of The Serenity Prayer's authorship, I have no doubt that it originated with Reinhold Niebuhr. As one who studied under him at Union, dined with him in the refectory and regularly visited his apartment on Friday evening when he had open house for free-for-all discussions, I have a sense of how his mind worked. The prayer is thoroughly Niebuhr.

It may be that he used it in various forms through the years, and others may have picked it up and used it. But that prayer, in its original, is Niebuhr!

Donald W. Morgan
Rocky Hill, Conn.

Grace is essential

I would make one comment on the article by William G. Chrystal on Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer. The essential word "grace" is missing.

I believe that Niebuhr wrote, "God grant me the grace to accept with serenity..." For a Christian theologian of Niebuhr's thinking, God's grace is more essential than the human's inclination.

Readers may be interested in Elisabeth Sifton's book "The Serenity Prayer" as a reference.

Ed Schneider
Pleasant Hill, Tenn.
via e-mail

Combined board concerns

Contributors to the UCC's general fund should be concerned about the proposed United Church Board (UCB). Since the inception of the UCC, directors of particular instrumentalities or covenanted ministries were people committed to furthering the interests of the bodies they oversaw.

Under the proposed UCB, all of the functional ministries will be overseen by the same directors, a majority of whom would appear to be protecting the interests of the bodies they represent.

How can Local Church, Justice and Witness, and Wider Church ministries' staffs be empowered to develop and enabled to carry out visionary missions under this convoluted and potentially reactionary arrangement? If this plan is adopted, then Article III of the UCC Constitution, "Covenantal Relations," can be eliminated as irrelevant.

Theodore H. Erickson
Laughlintown, Pa.

Church and free speech

Many appear to be framing the IRS' position on non-profit endorsement of candidates as an attack on free speech. I believe this is not only inflammatory, but also incorrect. The non-profit status of churches and other organizations is not a right, it is a privilege granted by the government through the tax code. If churches wish to be able to endorse candidates all they need do is relinquish the privilege of their tax exemption.

Betsy Latham
Groveland, Mass.
via e-mail

CORRECTION: The image in J. Martin Bailey's article on Charles McCollough, "Pastor, artist sculpts his retirement with purpose and pleasure," Oct.-Nov. 2008, received an incorrect caption. The sculpture pictured is titled "Hagar and Ishmael's Expulsion." The work will be dedicated Feb. 4, 2009, at Drew University.