“Philip Schaff: A Christian Committed to Religious Liberty”
Most church people do not fully understand the evolution of religious freedom in American history. Initially many of our colonial ancestors were narrow and self-centered. They protected religious freedom for themselves, but they did not support diversity. Fortunately, as the United States of America took shape understandings of religious freedom expanded.
Today, as views of religions are cultivating conflict, those of us in the United Church of Christ need to remember Philip Schaff (1819-1893). Schaff was born in Chur, Switzerland and educated in German universities. After finishing his studies in 1841, in 1843 he left Europe to teach at the German Reformed Theological Seminary in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Many of us know about the Mercersburg movement and the important writings of John Williamson Nevin and Philip Schaff (see the UCC Roots June 2018 essay about Nevin). Schaff helped develop the new liturgy and hymnal for the German Reformed Church in the 1850s and translated a new edition of the Heidelberg Catechism.
Unfortunately, Schaff’s work beyond Pennsylvania and Mercersburg is not well known. After the Civil War, he wrote a seven-volume history of the Christian Church, traveled in Europe and explored diverse understandings of religion. In 1870 he became a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City—teaching and writing about theology, scripture, and history until his death in 1893. In 1888, he founded the American Society of Church History which is still an active professional society.
In 1887 Schaff wrote book entitled Church and State in the United States: The American Idea of Religious Liberty and its Practical Effects. He argued that “our Constitution protects us against the despotism of a state church and guarantees to us the free exercise and enjoyment of religion, as an inherent, inviolable, and inalienable right.” Schaff believed that religion and liberty are inseparable, and both must be protected. The United Church of Christ upholds this legacy.
Contributor: Barbara Brown Zikmund
Christmas Collects and BenedictionRead more
“Lourdino Yuzon: A Filipino Leader”
In 1521 a Spanish explorer named Magellan visited a group of islands along the coast of Asia. He named them the “Philippines”—honoring Spain’s King Philip II. For several centuries the islands were ruled by Spain. Although the British controlled briefly, the Spanish prevailed until 1898 when the United States defeated the Spanish fleet and colonized the Philippines. War with the Filipinos continued until 1902 and their struggle for independence was not honored until 1946.
After the USA took control of the islands, American missionaries and teachers were allowed to go to the Philippines. In spite of political and economic difficulties, and religious and cultural rivalries, church leaders (especially Congregationalists and Presbyterians and the Christian Church/Disciples) worked together to help Filipinos establish their own United Church of Christ in the Philippines in 1948.
Lourdino Yuzon (1931-2015) was ordained by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and served in varying capacities. In the 1990s the United Church of Christ (USA), invited him to help scattered Filipino families found a church in Texas. The Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM) provided resources. They named the new church “Cosmopolitan United Church of Christ,” after their home church in the Philippines. They committed themselves to the task of uniting people in personal faith and social responsibility. On August 20, 1995, when the church was received into the UCC South-Central Conference, Lourdino Yuzon was installed as its first permanent pastor
Lourdino Yuzon was more than a local church planter or pastor. He was awarded posthumously the “Outstanding Sillimanian Award” (OSA) from Silliman University, a strong university in the Philippines. The citation celebrated his church service, honored his leadership in education as an administrator and a Christian Ethics professor at the seminary, and applauded his leadership in the international ecumenical movement. The UCC is repeatedly blessed by immigrant leaders that continue to enrich our church.
Contributor: Joe A. Malayang
Liturgy for a New Year: A Service of Holy CommunionRead more
December 31/January 1
New Year’s Celebration
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