Letters to the editor
September - October 2009

Online news — yea!

Hard times force difficult decisions. The leadership in our national offices should be commended for tightening their belts and acting as wise stewards of the reduced resources we have. One such example is ending the print edition of United Church News.

I'll miss having that hard copy in my hands. At the same time, I know that more and more people use the internet to receive information. Over 75 percent of our members use e-mail and we often reprint UCNews articles in our Sunday bulletin to help get the word out to those not online.

I deeply appreciate the efforts made by the UCC to be on the cutting edge of technology.

But it is up to all of us to make sure that information gets out to parishioners not online. Nothing comes for free and we have to take responsibility for spreading the news.

The Rev. Chuck Currie
United Church News blogger and interim minister
Parkrose (Ore.) Community UCC

Online news — nay!

I do understand the need to no longer print UCNews, but I am also dismayed that it is happening. I have loved every issue. I personally would be happy with two or three issues of UCNews each year, and wonder how the figures would come out between the proposed magazine and fewer issues of what we already have.

The decision highlights, of course, that a sea change is inevitable but difficult for people my age. I am 78. I am thankfully very active and very healthy, and I am computer literate. However, I absolutely detest reading things "on line," and, for the sake of the trees we are hopefully saving by our move to having to do most things online, I don't like to print things. Such a dilemma.

I am glad to be part of a denomination that is addressing the needs of the environment and of the younger generation of those active in the UCC. But I may sit down and cry a bit nonetheless.

Betty Edison
Bethany UCC, Randolph, Vt.

Conversion to what?

I'm bothered by a remark in the article on "evangelical courage" (Editorial, June/July '09) speaking of "converting new peoples." It conflicts with the "Still speaking" emphasis that "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome ..." We welcomed 15 new members this past year because of that evangelical vision and praxis.

Some among them still don't consider themselves "Christian" in any traditional sense, nor do they need to be "converted" in any sense.

They came to us precisely because we are open and affi rming, transcending any distinctions based on gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race or religion as we pursue ways to reflect God's mercy, justice and peace in our community.

If more "traditional Christians" had the evangelical courage to be converted to such principles, they might attain the evangelical vision to which the article aspires.

The Rev. Don Prange
St. James UCC, Lovettsville, Va.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Good point. The intent of the editorial comment was, in part, to foster a discussion of what the word "conversion" means in the current UCC context.]

Fuzzy math: church growth

As a lifetime UCC member, baptized in the Deutches Evangelische Kirche, and confirmed and married in the Evangelical & Reformed Church, I read in the United Church News the 14 resolutions to be presented to the General Synod, and find something missing.

Once again, we are out to solve all the problems of the world, instead of concentrating on solving our own problems. At the Southwest Conference annual meeting a few weeks ago, it was announced that every week the UCC lost three churches for every 0.7 church gained. Page A5 of June/July '09 UCNews proudly announced that we gained 165 churches since 2006. By my calculations, that means we lost more than 500 churches!

I join with the Rev. Mark D. Arnold, of Community UCC, Baker, Mont., who wrote of his frustration over the apparent disorganization existing in the national office, in expressing my frustration also.

Charles G. Crook
Desert Garden UCC, Sun City West, Ariz.

Reviving ecumenism

I understand the UCC cooperates with other Christian denominations in many areas as missions and disaster ministry. A number of these churches, like us, suffer from slow growth if not declining membership. This causes me to see the elephant in the room: the need to work toward full ecumenical church union among the nation's mainstream reformed churches.

In 1925 Presbyterians, Methodists, Disciples of Christ and Congregationalists formed the United Church of Canada. Isn't it time to fully integrate our mostly common and parallel expressions of the Gospel together with the United Church of America?

Kevin Mann
Yuma (Ariz.) UCC