June - July 2007
July 1, 2007

Amazing archives

At its April board meeting, the UCC's Local Church Ministries granted funds to the UCC-related Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans to hire additional professional help to sort through tons of historic documents and other items related to the UCC's former American Missionary Association and United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.

"We got a very nice proposal a full-time archivist and graduate assistant to catalogue 472 linear feet of materials," said the Rev. Holly MillerShank, vice chair of LCM's budget committee. 

Founded by the AMA in 1966, the Amistad Research Center is a repository for the study of ethnic history, culture and race relations in the United States. It is the nation's oldest, largest and most prestigious independent archives of original documents that chronicle the history of African Americans and other ethnic minorities, including Native American, Appalachian and Jewish peoples.

The Center holds over 700 collections, including more than 10 million original or one-of-a-kind manuscripts dating from 1780 to the present. 

In the mid-19th century, the AMA grew out of the defense committee formed for the illegally enslaved Africans aboard the ship La Amistad. The AMA subsequently founded schools for freed slaves, including several existing UCC-related colleges — Dillard, Fisk, Huston-Tillotson, LeMoyne-Owen, Taladega, and Tougaloo.

The Amistad Research Center receives ongoing financial support from LCM's Daniel Hand Endowment Fund. Representatives of LCM and the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries also sit on the Center's board of directors.

Look for the Amistad Research Center's booth at General Synod 26 in Hartford or learn more online at

UCC getting greener

"Caring for Earth: A Conference on Environmental Spirituality and Activism" will be held as a pre-Synod event on Thursday, June 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Immanuel Congregational UCC (opposite the Mark Twain House) in Hartford, Conn.

Presented by the UCC National Environment and Energy Task Force, the one-day event will include presentations and workshops by Jerome Ringo, board chair of the National Wildlife Federation; Beverly Wright, founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at UCC-related Dillard University; Robert D. Bullard, distinguished professor at Clark Atlanta University and director of its Environmental Justice Resource Center; and Charles Lee, director of the EPA's Environmental Justice Office and author of the UCC's historic "Toxic Wastes and Race Report" (1987).

Registration is $25 and can be mailed in c/o Cedar Hills UCC, 11695 SW Park Way, Portland, OR 97225. More information is available by contacting or 503/644-3838.

Bon Voyage, La Amistad

Just as thousands will be arriving at General Synod 26 in Hartford, Conn., the Freedom Schooner Amistad will hoist its sails at Long Wharf in nearby New Haven and embark on a historic first-time voyage across the Atlantic where it will visit Sierra Leone, the west Africa land once home to the former Amistad captives.

The ship will carry the story of Sengbe Pieh and his fellow captives, and how they changed the course of U.S. history in their struggle for freedom and against slavery. The Amistad will carry the slogan, "Confronting the Past; Transforming the Present," encapsulating the heart of the Amistad America project.

The Amistad event was the first human rights trial in U.S. history and, in many ways, heralded the birth of the UCC's justice-advocacy tradition.

On Thursday, June 21, at 2:30 p.m., early Synod visitors can participate in a public bon voyage as well wishers gather from across Connecticut and the United States to bless the Amistad Freedom Schooner and its crew as they embark on this 14-month adventure.
Learn more at

Coalition gathering

The 2007 National Gathering of the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns will be held June 19-21 in Hartford, Conn., just prior to General Synod 26.

Learn more and register at

Lace up!

Billed as the "Tick-Tock Walk," sponsored walkers and runners will take to the streets of downtown Hartford, Conn., to underscore the mantra of the UCC's Evangelism Ministry: "Now is the time for new church development!"  In the process, they'll raise awareness and dollars for the UCC's New and Renewing Church Fund.

Join preaching pedestrians of all ages and skill levels at 11 a.m. on Sat., June 23, at the arch at Bushnell Park. Registration costs $30 and includes a t-shirt.

Information and registration forms are available at

Second printing

After selling out of its first run of 15,000 copies, the UCC's commemorative anniversary book, "UCC@50: Our History, Our Future" is back in business with a second printing of 10,000 more.

"Due to the popular demand across the church, we sold out quickly," says Barb Powell, the UCC's director for production. "But now the second printing is ready and available for a 'song.'"

Priced to sell, the full-color 98-page books are only $6.95 each; 10-24 copies are $6.45 each; and 25 or more cost $5.95 each.
Orders of 50 or more come with a free copy of the commemorative DVD, "UCC@50: Yesterday's Visionaries, Today's Voices," which also is available for single purchase for $19.95.

"We've heard reports of how the book is being used by church schools and new-member classes," Powell says. "And the DVD is a terrific introduction to the UCC — entertaining yet informative."

Order from United Church of Christ Resources at 800/537-3394.

Best sellers

The UCC's Pilgrim Press, the oldest continuous publisher of books in North America, announced its bestsellers list, as part of The Christian Century's "spring books" edition published May 1. Here's a look at Pilgrim's most-read books this year:

1. "Solomon's Success: Four Essential Keys to Leadership" by Kenneth L. Samuel
2. "Blessed by the Presence of God: Liturgies for Occasional Services" by F. Russell Mitman
3. "Weddings with Today's Families in Mind: A Handbook for Pastors" by Doreen M. McFarlane
4. "I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church" by Paul Nixon
5. "Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in America" by Marvin A. McMickle
These and other titles are available for purchase through The Pilgrim Press's online bookstore at or by calling 800/537-3394. 


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