Letters to the Editor
January - February 2003

 That?s who we are

As I understand it, the Congregational Church (UCC) has been at the forefront of change since its inception. It was the first Protestant church to ordain women, it defended captives in the Amistad incident, it was the first church to ordain gays and lesbians, it worked for prison reform in the early days, and founded many black churches (in addition to Yale and Harvard). When one joins the church, we covenant with one another, regardless of race or gender identification, to walk together in God?s ways, as proclaimed at Salem in 1629.

Our statement of faith calls us to be servants of God in the struggle for justice and peace for all people. So I wonder why some letter writers are disappointed with the tone of some of articles in United Church News. It might be wise for all of us to examine what we do believe.

Marilyn Burnes
First Congregational UCC (54 years)
Palo Alto, Calif.

?The time has come?

I remember one human rights mission I was on in Chalatenango Province in northern El Salvador. Reports had been received of an attack on a tiny village. We were to document the violence.

What did we discover? Small houses with dirt floors, walls stained with blood and flesh. We knelt in the dirt before the bodies of two children killed in an attack from the air, the helicopters hovering a couple hundred feet above the ground. We found shell casings with the words lettered on the side: "Made in the U.S.A."

Now our government is preparing to launch more terror on the world. Citizens of this nation who love this country, beware.

The time has come, and is nearly past, to gather the courage to shout "no" to the Bush administration and a madness that seems to know no end.

Call the White House 202-456-1111; send an e-mail: Mail president@whitehouse.gov.

The Rev. Frederick R. Trost
Middleton, Wis.

War will increase terrorism

I read that the director of the CIA warned President Bush that a war against Iraq would cause universal hate and consequently innumerable acts of terrorism by Saddam Hussein and the other Arab countries. Thus such a war would in fact multiply terrorism that it is meant to stop.

Since I have spent several months in the Arab world, I cannot but confirm this view. And having survived World War II, I know that it is always the innocent civilian population who suffers and becomes the victim of all the atrocities a war brings about.

As Christians, we have always to advocate for the innocent and the victimized; we therefore should protest against any attempt of a pre-emptive aggression. But even apart from our obligations as Christians, the mere fact that a pre-emptive strike would cause exactly the acts that it pretends to eliminate should lead us to oppose it.

The Rev. Edzard Rohland, retired
Church of the Cross
Bonn, Germany

Study war no more!

The first century, like our 21st century, was time of war and imperialism and Jesus was against both. The imperialist then was Rome; the imperialist today, the United States. In that time of Roman imperialism, when persons became disciples of Jesus their lives were radically changed. They said "no" to war and to imperialism and they followed Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

The rite of initiation into Christian discipleship was, as today, the sacrament of baptism. According to sketches in the Roman catacombs, the convert went down to the river carrying his sword and shield and clean white clothes. After he was baptized, he put on his new clothes, left his old clothes and weapons at the riverside and went out into the world a new creature, born again, to love everybody, to serve his master and to study war no more.

It?s a gospel song. Sing it!

The Rev. Jewel R. Johnson
Leander, Texas

Amistad is in New Haven

The ship Amistad?s home port is not Mystic. It is New Haven, Conn. She was certainly built at Mystic, and I am proud to be one of many Mystic Seaport Museum staff members who were able to bring the Amistad story to thousands of visitors who witnessed her construction over a two-year period. Sadly, she only returns to Mystic now for occasional overhaul work, and because of that work may not be open to visitors when she is there. We frequently have visitors who expect to see her and are disappointed when we have to tell them she is elsewhere.

Those hoping to see Amistad should check with Amistad America for her schedule: File www.AmistadAmerica.org or phone 203-495-1839.

Samuel G. Morrison
Second Congregational UCC
New London, Conn.

Jewish and Christian

Here is my response to the article, "Christian scholars say Jews can be saved without faith in Christ."

I am a Jew. Jesus is my Savior. I worship both at UCC and my synagogue. A Jew can believe anything he wants about the Messiah, even that it is Jesus. I believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God come from heaven to earth to make the human family one with God and with each other.

The real Jesus never stopped being a Jew. Jesus said, "Why call me good? None is good but the one God. I can do nothing of myself. It is the Father in me that does the works."

There is nothing un-Jewish about that. Jesus came as the perfect Son of God because he allowed his Father to be the only power. He made himself nothing.

Therein lies his secret he came to give us.

David Christensen
First Congregational UCC
Big Timber, Mont.

Keep the Amistad materials together

I read, with great joy, the "UCC acquires historic Amistad letter" article. That was a tremendous celebration with Justice and Witness Ministries and the Connecticut Conference. I am praying that ... the appropriate location for the document would be the Amistad Research Center.

I would hate to see any collection of Amistad materials separated in several locations, such as the UCC archives, when we have a central location known as the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. It seems the fitting place to house all of the Amistad-related documents so that historians and future generations of scholars and researchers could easily locate the materials.

The Rev. Luther Holland Jr.
The Congregational Church of Park Manor UCC Chicago

Don?t take the money

According to articles in United Church News, the Eli Lilly Foundation gave money to a number of UCC entities.

Given the terrible record of inflated prices for medications of this company, it seems to me that these UCC groups should have rejected this money publicly. Instead, they should have asked Eli Lilly to lower their drug prices.

Eli Lilly and other companies only give to charities to establish good public relations, trying to create a warm, fuzzy feeling for their names.

Erwin Pauly
Memorial UCC
Fitchburg, Wis.

Insight and inspiration

I want to send my thanks to United Church News for the ways it helps our United Church of Christ stay connected. I gain insight and/or inspiration from every issue.

I especially want to thank you for lifting up what is still a misunderstood form of ministry, that being Intentional Interim Ministry and its vital efforts to assist the church.

I also want to thank you for the full page layout of youth who attended the Start Something weekend in the Illinois South Conference, made possible by the Lilly Foundation and Eden Theological Seminary. These weekends have been a wonderful inspiration to many young people and have reminded them that they are indeed "Called by God."

The Rev. William Utke
Milwaukee, Wis.

Send letters of fewer than 150 words to United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115; e-mail Mail goldere@ucc.org. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Comments may be posted to the online forums of United Church News at File ucc.org/discus/messages/18/18.html.

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