Letters to the Editor
June - July 2009

Praise for UCNews' online transition

A word of appreciation for the move to online copy of the UCNews!

The Rev. Rob Leveridge
Minister for Seminary Relations
Chicago Theological Seminary

I want to thank you for the excellent UCC News Headlines website you recently created. It is a great way for me to get news of the UCC and other religion news. I go to it every day.

Jeff Johnson
Carlinville, Il.

And on the other hand...

Online means if I want to keep current with organizations I value and support, it requires more isolation. Hear this: I do not choose or plan to spend more time at a computer screen. Is more isolation and less communication an end result you want?

The Rev. Robert H. Anderson (retired)
Guemes Island Community UCC, Anacortes, Wash.

Darwin a scientist not an atheist

Shane Odean is mistaken (Letters Apr/May 2009). Darwin's purpose was not to promote atheism, but to increase scientific knowledge of life's origins.

For years he delayed the publication of his findings out of concern for the sensitivities of orthodox theists, including his beloved wife, Emma. Only when he learned that Alfred Russell Wallace was about to publish a paper on natural selection did he relent, enriching our knowledge with "The Origin of Species" and laying the groundwork for the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA.

Even then, in the final sentence of his book Darwin wrote of life "having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one." Thus, he acknowledged the mystery of the beginnings of natural selection, even though he probably would have denied the validity of the rationalization known as theistic evolution. After all, he was not a theologian but a scientist.

Rev. Thomas R Mason (retired)
First Cong. UCC, Muskegon, Mich.

Frustration over governance debate

I am deeply disappointed that an agreement was not reached to streamline the governance of the national UCC offices. I understand and appreciate the UCC culture of attempting to bring everyone to the table. However, a mere glance at reality will show that the table is shrinking and may soon disappear altogether.

Rural churches cannot afford such a huge national waste. We must plan for the future and not be handcuffed by the past. Only a leaner and more responsive organization can endure and serve God effectively. I urge those that voted this proposal down to consider how we will operate after the collapse that is inevitable on our current path.

Frankly, I have begun sowing the seeds of planning for how my 100-year-old church will progress in the event that the national organization implodes. Only a radical and rapid change in direction will avert the demise of the current UCC.

The Rev. Mark D. Arnold
Community UCC, Baker, Mont.

It disturbs me that the single governance initiative was blocked by Justice and Witness Ministries Board of Directors and, as a result, won't be coming before General Synod this summer. I am disturbed by what appears to be a very controlling action on the part of JWM's Board. I find it shameful that they chose competition over cooperation on a matter of church governance.

If asked by a local church member what kind of a bang we get for our OCWM buck, I'll have to answer, "An impasse." Where's the nearly quarter-million dollar justice in that?

The Rev. Jeffrey G. Wartgow
First Cong. UCC, DeWitt, Iowa

Shame, shame, shame to the Board of Justice and Witness Ministries on their refusal to allow the proposal for single governance to go to General Synod for its prayerful consideration and discernment.

Is 50 percent representation for women and other historically under-represented group not enough? Your action prevents General Synod from considering the issue.

The Rev. Reed Baer
West Parish of Barnstable (Mass.) UCC

[EDITOR'S NOTE: These letters represent a small sampling of those expressing disappointment in the single governance proposal's stop. No letters were received voicing a positive view of the halted proceedings.]

Middle East updates welcomed

Thank you for your comments on the suffering of the Palestinian people and for your reference to the UCC participation in aid for Gaza. I am aware that Jean Zaru has spoken at General Synod, and that there was an urgent call for response on the UCC website during the bombings of Gaza.

I have often, though, wondered at the absence of notice about Palestine on the website. I know that there is not room for comment about all things at all times, but I believe that the occupation of Palestine is so central to many issues in the Middle East that the UCC should be actively and overtly paying attention.

This will be a thankless job that will likely bring criticism, yet I believe that it is essential to our Christian witness.

Elsa Koenig Weber
First United UCC, Oak Park, Ill.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Regular updates are posted to the Global Ministries' Middle East and Europe area page http://globalministries.org/mee/.]

In the April/May letters section, Loberta Staley asked, "Where was Mr. Neuroth when Palestinians, unprovoked, were bombing innocent children and adults in Israel long before this recent invasion?"

The first suicide bombing in Israel was a response to Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 worshipers in a mosque in Hebron in 1994. The Second Intifada (uprising) began after Ariel Sharon together with 1000 riot police provocatively walked on Islam's third holiest site in a show of force.

The underlying issue that led to violence was Israel's continuing military occupation of lands on which Palestinians hoped to have a state.

Esther Riley
Fairfax (Calif.) Community UCC