The United Church of Christ (UCC) has been vocal in our opposition to the development, possession, testing, and use of nuclear weapons throughout our history. Just two years into our covenantal life as the newly formed UCC, the second General Synod in Oberlin, OH (1959) issued A Call to Christian Action in Society that called for the “effective international control and reduction of all national armaments, including testing of nuclear weapons.” Years later in 1979, the UCC’s General Synod again called for the reversal of the “arms race” and based on our relationship with partners in Micronesia, we have continued to advocate for the end of nuclear testing. In 1999 General Synod affirmed a resolution calling for redress for the damage caused by U.S. testing in the Marshall Islands.
In 1985, Synod issued the groundbreaking Just Peace Pronouncement that articulated our theological position on issues of war and peace based on a call to address systemic injustice. Over the past 30 years as a Just Peace Church the United Church of Christ has reaffirmed these positions in support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the New START agreement, and, most recently, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Back from the Brink
The 2019 General Synod resolution, “Calling for the United States to pull “Back From The Brink” and Prevent Nuclear War” not only affirmed the UN Treaty, but also called on UCC churches to get involved with the Back from the Brink campaign (BFTB) and other anti-nuclear movements. Several UCC churches are already supporting the Back from the Brink efforts to pass municipal, state, and federal resolutions that address “5 ‘Common Sense’ Policy Solutions”:
- Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first
- End the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack
- Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
- Cancel plans to replace the U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons
- Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals
Now is a key time to join these efforts. If we as a denomination believe that “Peace is possible!” then let us back our statements with engagement and action. If you or your church are interested in getting involved, contact the UCC point person for the Back From the Brink effort, Joe Scarry: email@example.com or UCC staff, Rev. Michael Neuroth firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some resources to get started in that work.
- UCC Study: “Do Unto Others: The Golden Rule and Our Call to Nuclear Abolition”
- Advocate! Call your member of Congress and ask them to support H.Res.302, a resolution in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Call the Capitol Switchboard today at (202) 224-3121 or take action here.
- Getting to the Root article: “The Sin of Nuclear Weapons” by Rebekah Choate, Global Ministries Associate for Global Advocacy and Education
- Back from the Brink list of articles/resources and Google Map where BFTB resolutions have passed or are in process
- Film: The Nun, the Priest, and the Bomb
August 2020: Hiroshima/Nagasaki 75th Anniversary
August 6 and 9, 2020, are the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Events are being planned around the world, and a network of organizations is working to pull those together into one place. Visit https://www.hiroshimanagasaki75.org/ for more information, and consider spreading the word using this toolkit for social media engagement. The UCC has endorsed this Position Statement leading up to the anniversary.
Worship Resources for use in Hiroshima/Nagasaki @75 Commemoration Services:
We encourage every UCC congregation to commemorate Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day on Sunday, August 9th (or other appropriate time), and speak out in support of nuclear abolition. Consider dedicating your Sunday service using the materials below:
- Sunday August 9th 2020 Recorded Sermon by Rev. Bob Moore, UCC Pastor and Director of the NJ Coalition for Peace Action: “Choosing Life in the Nuclear Age”
- Sermon by former General Minister, Rev. John H. Thomas on the occasion of the 75th anniversary: “Are we Being Good Ancestors?”
- Archived Worship Resources from the World Council of Churches to mark Hiroshima Day (2010) and current WCC Blog with reflections leading up to the 75th Anniversary.
- A Ceremony to Commemorate Hiroshima: “Remember the past to commit oneself to the future.” 2012 Blogpost by Joe Scarry
- Resources for Services and Prayers on Hiroshima Day (2017)
- Worship Words on Hiroshima Day
- A Peace with Justice Liturgy by Rev. Melissa Hinnen
- For historical context, here is a helpful Timeline of events in 1945 offered by WILF
You are invited to share your plans for the 75th anniversary with UCC point person for the Back From the Brink effort, Joe Scarry: email@example.com or UCC staff, Rev. Michael Neuroth firstname.lastname@example.org.