News Briefs
January - February 2001

UFW calls off grape boycott

The United Farm Workers has called off its 16-year boycott of California table grapes, citing recent organizing and contract victories. UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez made the announcement in a letter to the St. Louis-based National Farm Worker Ministry. For decades, the UCC has supported the organizing efforts of farm workers, including urging church members to boycott California table grapes.

New resource available

A new resource packet soon will be available to help local churches address concerns related to relationships with the Boy Scouts of America.

The packet includes worship resources and objective information about the stance the Boy Scouts of America has taken regarding the exclusion of gay persons. It also discusses the UCC's journey on such issues, shares perspectives from local congregations and offers suggestions of what congregations can do.

To obtain a packet, contact he Rev. June Boutwell, UCC, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115; phone 216-736-3871; e-mail

Britain to forgive debt

Great Britain announced in December that it would forgive more than $1.43 billion in debt from 41 of the world's poorest countries, provided the money goes toward health care, education and alleviating poverty. Britain's Treasury chief Gordon Brown said 12 nations—including Cameroon, Honduras and Senegal—would have their debt payments written off immediately, while another eight were likely to meet the government's criteria by the end of the year. In all, $850 million will be forgiven this year, government officials said.

Burning Bush nominees sought

Christians for Justice Action are seeking nominations for the next Burning Bush Award, to be presented at this summer's General Synod/Assembly in Kansas City, Mo. The award honors committed Christian activists or organizations that work for justice, and whose gifts and sacrifices may not be well known beyond their local settings.

Nominations should be sent by April 20 to Helen Webber, 315 East 106 Street, Apt. B, New York, NY 10029.

UCC, Disciples hold combined sermon contest

The UCC Council for Ecumenism and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Council on Christian Unity will co-sponsor a sermon contest titled "Unity and Justice." First and second place awards are $500 and $250, respectively. Sermons should be between 1,250 and 2,500 words in length, double-spaced, on a single-sided manuscript with the name of the preacher, address, telephone and/or e-mail included on a separate sheet of paper. Sermons must have been preached in a congregation, seminary, university or college chapel, Conference or Association setting, or at a gathering of an ecumenical body between January 2000 and March 2001.

Sermons from UCC participants should be sent by April 15 to Lydia Veliko, Minister for Ecumenical Relations, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115.

Lutheran, Episcopal churches begin full communion

The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America formally inaugurated full communion between the two denominations Jan. 6 at Washington National Cathedral. The 5.2-million-member ELCA and the 2.5-million-member Episcopal Church now fully recognize each other's members, ministries, clergy and sacraments.

Submit nominees for Synod disability awards

The UCC's National Committee on Persons with Disabilities is seeking nominations for awards to be presented at General Synod 23. The awards will be presented to a person with a physical disability, mental illness or cognitive disorder who has made outstanding contributions to church and/or society; a person without a disability that has made a notable contribution to the lives of persons with disabilities; and a church that has made outstanding achievements in providing full participation for all people.

Submit a one-page summary and supporting documentation by March 15 to the Rev. Margaret Slater, Inclusive Ministry Coordinator, Local Church Ministries, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115.

Middle East violence topic of seminary faculty statement

The faculty of UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., has issued a statement expressing their concern about ongoing unrest and violence in the Middle East. In the statement, faculty members suggest guidelines for developing a framework for negotiation and urge faith communities to speak out.

Tax video available online

"Line by Line," the instructional 45-minute video to help clergy fill out their income tax forms, was mailed Jan. 29 to all UCC ministers who are members of the Pension Boards. It also will be available via video streaming on the UCC website, beginning Feb. 8, at

Back by popular demand: UCC logo items

United Church Press will reintroduce a line of UCC key chains, tie tacks, lapel pens and other UCC logo items in their next catalog, to be mailed out in mid-March.

For more information, contact Troy Weise at United Church Press, 216-736-3760.