What does it mean to be a 'united' church?
October 2003


In the September issue, we invited readers' participation in a new opinion feature called "Soapbox." From time to time, we'll ask for your short responses to a specific question we pose. Here's how you answered our initial question:

Like the kingdom of God, a truly "United" Church of Christ is a work in progress. The diverse unity that we are in Christ is not yet fully manifest; it is obscured by the many "isms" which divide and diminish us all. And yet, there are glimpses ... and we are so ceaselessly exhorted by the Spirit to carry on the strenuous, spiritual work of uniting, that I have hope.

The Rev. Ann B. Day
Member, United Congregational UCC
Worcester, Mass.

To me, the more salient question is, "Are we truly united?" It seems to me that the UCC is more of a federation of divergent congregations and disparate entities held together by who knows what. Are we "united" and, if so, by what or by whom? One could answer "by Christ," "by covenant," "by common commitments," or even "by Cleveland"! In my more cynical moments I think we may be united by being wishy-washy. How's that for a UCC answer?

The Rev. Grant F. Sontag
Mountain View, Calif.

A "united" church to me means a people of God effectively organized to embrace God's children, protect God's people, respect God's creation, and enjoy God's love in worship and service.

The Rev. Edward Goode
Chicago Metropolitan Association, UCC

We're united in a way that realized eschatology is both the already and the not yet. We are still striving in our unity. We're striving in the way that Paul described in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus, where he wrote of an eagerness to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Being a united church means we are eager to build bonds of peace, sow seeds of love and patiently strive towards the "not yet" fulfilled glory God has for all God's creation.

The Rev. James E. Fouther Jr.
United Church of Montbello
Denver, Colo.

Whoa, unity seekers! Unity is a punctual concern, always emerging at times of tension and getting in the way of impatience about justice. We are not to rock the boat. Why? Because of unity. What we need more than unity is strong institutional hinges that open wide the doors to justice. A strong spine also helps. There is plenty of room for unity behind justice's urgency.

The Rev. Donna Schaper
Coral Gables Congregational UCC
Coral Gables, Fla.

A "united church" is one and whole; it is unique and individual. Without boundaries, a united church steps outside. Christ's love unites us into one body of believers. Individuals of God's creation, we are unique, with diverse gifts, united in Christ. In love, we stand. A whole person united in Christ's church, and love—without boundaries—we are in the world. His love reflects through us, surrounded by the United Church of Christ.

Patty Stahley
Frieden's UCC
Sumneytown, Pa.