Letters to the Editor
July - August 2000

Time to get out

"Amen!" to Dan Hatch's justice proposal urging the church to get out of the "marriage license signing business." Until the mid-'60s the State of Maryland refused to allow clergy to marry persons of different races. The church had the opportunity at that time to say, "We shall marry, but we shall not sign the state document." We were silent!
      It is time for the church to disengage itself from complicity with the state. Let the state declare the legal standing for civil unions or domestic partnerships. It has every right to do so. Let the church marry according to its faith tradition. It has every right and obligation to do so!

The Rev. Charles B. Higgins
Danbury, N.H.

Shocked and happy

I was shocked and happy with the opinion of Dan Hatch. He is right on!
      Once, in the Northwest, the county authorities threatened me with a $300 fine and/or 30 days in jail because a 17-year-old witness signed a marriage license. How did I know she wasn't 18?
      In California, I used my pen to write a better "0" on the date—and someone in Sacramento said the license was invalid because of "fraudulent" changing of information.
      And in Las Vegas, after retirement, I was not allowed to marry because I was no longer serving a "church" whereas many, many non-ordained, non-trained lay persons could sign marriage licenses after the service of marriage.
      I have long thought that the UCC should have fought to get us out of the government license signing business.

The Rev. Robert D. Aldrich
La Mesa, Calif.

Indians included, too

Among the hundreds of vials of water poured at the Women's Meeting in Charlotte was one from the mighty Amazon, poured by my wife, Betty Streich, from a bottle that our son had brought from Iquitos, Peru.
      Today, in Latin America, where we spent 32 years among the descendants of the Incas, the Catholic Church is experiencing a renewal. Thousands of Spanish Protestant churches also are growing, many of them with strong women's societies. There are scores of Indian churches, too. In little Ecuador there are more Indians than in all of North America! Thanks to the Bible Societies, there are numerous translations in Indian languages. In recent years Indian women are going to college for the first time in history. But with or without college, many are taking leadership roles in the churches. They, too, are among the Many Streams forming a New River for a new century.

The Rev. Paul H. Streich
Pleasant Hill, Tenn.

Drama disappearing

The Eucharist is a nourishing drama even for one who does not know the language being used, for the liberating truth is revealed in actions. Clergy must break and pour and share. For those who know the language being used, dramatic action is accompanied by active scriptural words: breaking or broken and pouring or poured. One of the most powerful dramas of revelation concludes in Luke 24:35: "He was known to them in the breaking of the bread."
      The UCC Book of Worship, and the practice in many UCC churches, is shockingly word- dependent, unwittingly suggestive of fundamentalism.
      While I am pleased that most of our clergy now serve the sacrament from behind the table, I am deeply disappointed that the exciting drama of the sacrament is disappearing.

The Rev. Charles O. Erickson
Kalamazoo, Mich.

Same goals in Atlanta

Your Current Comment on pastors as public leaders has stated issues dear to the hearts of Faith And The City and its seminary partners. Mainline churches and seminaries in Atlanta are working on many of the same goals:
      To inspire religious leadership to take an informed role in the public discourse regarding community issues;
      To amplify the voice of the faith community and elevate the importance of the moral dimension in the public dialogue on critical community issues;
      To foster the development of public religious leadership in clergy and clergy-in-formation by involving the theological education institutions in current issues confronting the community; and
      To engender [the idea] ... that "Atlanta" is the entire regional community and that regional cooperation is imperative.
      Very soon we will have staff in our three local seminaries (Candler School of Theology/Emory, The Interdenominational Theological Center, and Columbia Theological Seminary) to further these public leadership development goals.

Elizabeth Mitchell Clement
Faith And The City

50 years is enough

I was delighted to read the report of the visit to Vieques by John Thomas and Bernice Powell Jackson, and of the participation by members of the UCC in Puerto Rico in the protests on the island. In 1949, fresh out of seminary, I directed a Congregational Christian Service Committee work camp at Yuquiyu, Puerto Rico. The Navy was already destroying the island and restricting the people to a limited acreage. Even then the churches were protesting. To borrow a phrase from the campaign for international debt relief, "50 years is enough!" The call is clear: no more bombing: return the land to the people.

The Rev. Ed Hawley
Denver, Colo.

Don't alienate conservatives

A recent edition of United Church News quotes the Rev. John Thomas as desiring to have a church "that welcomes all into the household of God, seeking solutions to the world's problems together as God's people."
      Unity in diversity in the church is certainly a noble and godly goal. I find it strange then to read slanted phrases and innuendo in [United Church News] that directly castigates one whole section of the UCC, namely conservatives.
      Please remind those in positions of authority that there are conservative churches, who agree with the ideals of the Christian right, in the United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Daniel M. Krodel
Bethlehem Steltz Reformed Church
Glen Rock, Pa.