News Briefs
June 2001

Birthday commemoration

The New Hampshire Conference will celebrate its 200th birthday on Oct. 28, 2001. The Rev. John Thomas, President and General Minister of the UCC, will be on hand for the worship service. With the theme, "200 Years of Harvesting Granite," the day-long event will include faith-based artists and performers who will demonstrate, perform and reflect on their faith journey. Musicians will play jazz, classical, rock, bluegrass and gospel. For more information, visit the Conference website at or contact Jean Clarke; phone 603/225-6647; e-mail

Seminary celebrates 40 years

In April, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities celebrated 40 years as the UCC's newest seminary at its convocation with the theme "Liberating the Congregation for Ministry: Re-Visioning the Future Church." The 2001 Distinguished Alumnal Awards went to Sheila C. Gustafson (?77), nationally known author and preacher, and Helen Wells Quintela (?90), a St. Paul, Minn., chaplain and specialist in children's health.

United's President, the Rev. Wilson Yates, announced that $5.2 million has been raised towards the $6 million goal for a new chapel. An additional $1.3 million has been pledged. United was formed with the merger of Mission House Seminary, formed in 1862, and Yankton School of Theology, formed in 1881.

Anti-apartheid leader dies

Leon Sullivan, known for his commitment to making corporations more responsible for ethical conduct and a leading figure in U.S. efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, died Apr. 25 in Scottsdale, Ariz., from leukemia. He was 78.

Sullivan was best known for creating the Sullivan Principles, a set of ethical guidelines pledging South African corporations to practice racial non-discrimination and to oppose apartheid.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers apology

During a meeting last April, as an expression of apology, the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) passed a resolution stating that the Disciples, and many other religious communities in the United States, did not do enough in the 19th century to oppose slavery.

The board said that the failure "to work or speak against the institution of slavery in the United States...resulted in untold suffering among the African people," who often were "subjected to inhuman persecutions by their white owners."

Health coverage for domestic partners

The Board of Directors of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) voted in May to provide coverage under the Churchwide Health Care program for domestic partners of church employees covered by family insurance. The decision was rendered solely by the Pension Fund board with coverage applying only to health care and not to the Pension Plan or other programs. This decision could take effect as early as January 2002.

Niebuhrs to be honored

The Illinois Historical Society will place a historical marker at St. John UCC in Lincoln, Ill., on June 23 to honor the Revs. Gustav Niebuhr and Reinhold Niebuhr, both of whom were pastors there. Gustav Niebuhr also will be recognized on June 10 in St. Charles, Mo., at the centennial observance of Emmaus Homes, which he founded in 1901.

New website hosts religious dialogue

A new website,, has been introduced to the Internet and will be home to diverse ongoing religious and science dialogue. Cyberspace users will be able to enjoy discussions between theologians, clergy, scientists, philosophers and the general public. Discussion groups will focus on areas that have an impact on society and religious values. Interested persons can subscribe for free. Membership entitles users to a monthly online publication and rights to post in the forums.

For more information, call 610/486-1176 or visit the website.

ONA goal reached

The UCC Coalition for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Concerns has reached its goal of 375 new Open and Affirming churches by General Synod 23, meeting in Kansas City, Mo., in July.

This jump of 75 from the goal of 300 at General Synod 22 is the largest "in-between Synod group" in history. Plymouth Congregational UCC in Fort Wayne, Ind., was the 375th congregation to vote to become "ONA."

ONA churches are those churches that affirm and welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Christians into full membership and leadership.

No discrimination based on orientation

Home Depot, the nation's largest home-improvement retailer, has added sexual orientation to its current non-discrimination policy.

The store chain originally had opposed the addition, saying it did not discriminate based on sexual orientation, so there was no need to change to the policy.


Last month's Across the UCC story about Mustard Seed Ministries in Fort Pierce, Fla., omitted that the Rev. Carl Junker serves as its administrative pastor as part of a four-way covenant with First Congregational UCC of Fort Pierce, a main source of food and inspiration for that ministry.

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