June - July 2008

CTS on the move, literally

UCC-related Chicago Theological Seminary is planning a 2012 move from its historic Hyde Park home to new facilities nearby on the University of Chicago campus.

The new facility is being made possible through a multifaceted agreement with the University of Chicago. Under the agreement, the university will purchase the existing CTS buildings and construct and furnish new facilities to the seminary's specifications.

The total cost of the purchase and construction, including contingencies, moving costs, furniture and incidentals will be as much as $44 million. CTS will hold a 100-year lease on the new building at a rental rate of $1 annually.

"After nearly 100 years, we have a tremendous sense of history at our existing campus," said Donald Clark Jr., chair of the CTS board of trustees. "Our new home will provide an ideal setting where we can translate that history into fresh vitality."

The new building is being planned for the southeast corner of South Dorchester Avenue and East 60th Street.

Overlooking the Midway Plaisance, the planned facility will feature a LEED-compatible "green" design. Plans call for a four-story, 75,000-square-foot structure capped by a green roof. A semi-circular, glass-enclosed chapel and meeting space will provide settings for worship and gatherings. The lower level will accommodate future expansion.

"This mutually beneficial transaction reflects the creativity and cooperation of two longtime institutional neighbors," Clark added. "Much prayerful consideration went into this process, along with tireless efforts by our negotiating team, and leadership by the seminary's president, Susan Thistlethwaite."

Israel celebrates 60

Amid global celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Israel statehood, two UCC leaders issued a 1,000-word statement on May 14 that reiterated the UCC's "affirmation of Israel's right to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries."

The Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, and the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, executive minister for Wider Church Ministries, used the occasion to underscore the need for peacemaking between Israel and Palestine, naming it the "highest priority" that should emerge from Israel's anniversary commemoration.

"As Israel observes its 60th anniversary, it is appropriate to acknowledge the joy of Jews around the world even amid the enduring security concerns Israelis experience," Thomas and Rogers-Witte wrote. "It is also appropriate to honor the determination of Palestinians to endure and to achieve statehood and security beyond the anguish of 40 years of Occupation. But a true occasion for celebration will only come when Israelis and Palestinians both enjoy rights of security, sovereignty and self-determination without interference, imposition or fear.

"More than anything else, today's anniversary should be an urgent call to peacemaking, and a challenge to leaders in the region and their partners around the world to make peace with justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike their highest priority," the letter concluded.

Read the full text at

Gettin' married in the mornin'?

Both pastors and brides know that June is marrying month.  So does The Pilgrim Press.

The UCC's publishing company is offering a 20 percent discount through July 31 on its resources for weddings, marriages and commitments.

Titles include "Weddings with Today's Families in Mind: A Handbook for Pastors," a guide of traditional and non-tradition marriages; "How to Succeed in Marriage," an ideal booklet for couples contemplating a lifelong commitment; "First Comes Love?" a portrait of marriage through the ages, suitable for adult study; among others.

Order online at or by calling 800/537-3394.

Song in your heart? Plan up your sleeve?

Join the UCC Musicians National Network for its annual gathering event, Aug. 14-18, at The Bath Church, UCC, in Akron, Ohio. It's a worshipful, musical event for musicians, pastors, worship planners and liturgical artists. Recharge and, at the same time, come away with new, good ideas for worship.

The keynote speaker will be James Abbington, associate professor of music and worship at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Abbington is executive editor of the African-American Church Music Series of GIA publications in Chicago and co-director of music for the Hampton University Ministries' Conference and Choir Directors' Organists' Guild Workshop.
Registration and more information is available at

'Gather Round' for new curriculum

Beginning this fall, UCC churches have a new series option for their Christian education programs. The UCC has become a cooperative user and distributor of "Gather 'Round: Hearing and Sharing God's Good News," a new church school curriculum from Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network.

"In 2005, when we learned that Bible Quest would no longer be in the market [after this program year]," says the Rev. R. Kenneth Ostermiller, the UCC's minister for curriculum development, "we invited a representative group for all the regions of the United Church of Christ to look at several curricula which might fill the need for a Bible story approach to learning for UCC congregations."

Ostermiller says the series has good foundational goals, a comfortable look, user-friendly appearance, companion online resources and peace and justice themes.

Learn more and order from United Church Press at or 800/537-3394.


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