December 2007 - January 2008
December 1, 2007

'The miracle of peacemaking'

Many thanks to our Collegium of Officers for leading us to stand for peace. We really appreciated the Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War and the opportunity to sign on to a letter for peace.

Before the war in Iraq began, Ainsworth UCC voted against it, and we have not wavered in our commitment. It was a great support to know that our denominational leaders stand with us for peace and an end to the wars we perpetuate.

Personally, I have made peace-making a priority of my ministry. I do not want my children or any children to grow up under the shadow of war. Recalling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words about war, I do believe that the soul of America is dying; everyday of war is one more step to death. It will only be through the miracle of peace-making that we can resurrect our soul.

The Rev. Lynne Smouse López
Ainsworth United Church of Christ
Portland, Ore.

'Big-league' bewilderment

A full page article [Oct.-Nov.] talks of the pastoral transition at Trinity UCC in Chicago from Jeremiah Wright to Otis Moss III. This situation raises an interesting paradox I would think for the Chicago Metropolitan Association church and ministry body.

We clergy have been repeatedly warned to steer clear of search matters when we are leaving. I think what Wright has done makes perfect sense, and maybe should be looked at more, so in changing the pastoral code of ethics we have in the Manual on Ministry. But, as I am aware of  clergy who have been sanctioned in a variety of ways around such issues, it raises an interesting question about what rules apply to what bodies and individuals.

Also, it would appear that Trinity did not use the UCC pastoral search process for calling Moss. Again, that makes perfect sense for me. But other churches are castigated for not using this process. I also wonder if Moss received the proper credentials to be considered in the UCC search process as other clergy are expected to do when they desire to be considered for placement in UCC churches.

Does this mean that now we have the "big league" churches and the "minor league" and maybe even "little league" churches when it comes to who is to be accountable to Church and Ministry Committee procedures in this denomination and who is beyond the reach of church and ministry departments and the norms that are practiced among us?

The Rev. David Loar
Akron, Ohio

God's mission in Coopersburg

How much money do you think a church with an average attendance of 71 and a budget of $100,000 can raise for mission work to its local community in six years? $25,000? $50,000? $100,000?

Would you believe $175,000? That's how much St. John's UCC in Coopersburg, Pa., has raised to assist families struggling with medical bills since 2002!

We need to get out of the mindset that mission is something that is done far away by others and to the awareness of need at our door. All too many letters complain about this, that and the other, but at St. John's UCC we believe if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem. We want to be part of the solution.

The Rev. Richard Guhl
St. John's UCC, Coopersburg, Pa.

Honor historic identities

Reading the original letter regarding using "UCC" in church names and the responses [Soapbox, Oct.-Nov.] , I can't help but find it ironic that, on the one hand, many seem to want to demand that churches drop their historic names by adding UCC while at the same time, the UCC constantly showcases what are called "UCC firsts" — the Pilgrims, early stands against slavery, first ordained African-American, etc. Few of those listed are actually UCC firsts; the UCC didn't exist when they happened. They belong to the rich history of Congregational, Christian, Reformed and Evangelical churches.

The founders of the UCC wisely guaranteed the right of all churches to their historic identities and ways. We dishonor them when we engage in a cultural imperialism that attempts to wipe away the fact that others, many others, came before. We should celebrate UCC accomplishments in the last 50 years as such but an historical blindness serves no one.

The church I serve is proud to be a Congregational Church in the UCC. We are also proud to be a member of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, and we are daily blessed by the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in both families. But we know that where Christ is leading us is far more important than our name or the letters that come after it.

The Rev. James E. Eaton
First Congregational Church UCC
Member, NACCC
Owosso, Mich.

'Pleased to read'

Please extend my sincere appreciation for the great work of your staff and the various Conference staffs that also place their Conferences newsletter in United Church News.

I am proud to be a member of the UCC, and I am so pleased to read the accomplishments, changes and actions of my church. Consequently, I will continue to support United Church News with two annual donations.
I suggest that you ask readers to bring their issues to their church on Sunday mornings and make an attempt to share it with others who may not yet receive it.

Again, thank you so much for being the most widely distributed denominational newspaper in the United States.

Larry G. Romig Sr.
St. Petersburg, Fla. 


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