Coronavirus leaves its mark all over 2020 list of top UCC news stories

The top position in this annual United Church of Christ news review goes to a microscopic creature that, 12 months ago, almost no one had heard of.

Not only that, COVID-19, formally known as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,” or “SARS-CoV-2,” affected just about every other item on this list.

These 10 news topics were the top ones covered in 2020 at the UCC website and in the weekly UCC e-news digest, “Keeping You Posted.” A few representative examples follow each topic heading.

As 2020 closes, we, the news staff of the UCC national setting, offer to you, dear reader, warm condolences in the difficulties of this time, encouragement in the struggle for justice and peace, and enduring Christmas wishes of hope and love. 

No. 10: Religious freedom

Government objections didn’t stop pastors and local churches from asserting their rights to carry out ministries they deemed critical.

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No. 9: Ministries with partners

In response to COVID and other matters of justice, ecumenical and interfaith work with partners was as important as ever, globally and in the U.S.

No. 8: Earth’s climate

In a record-setting year for fires and floods (see No. 4), reversing climate breakdown remained an urgent priority. 

No. 7: Medical debt relief

A campaign begun in 2019 and scheduled to run through the 2021 General Synod celebrated three more achievements toward its goal of relieving medical debt in each of the UCC’s regions, combining locally raised funds with contributions from the national setting. 

  • In the West Central Region, churches of the Missouri Mid-South Conference bought up and abolished $12.9 million in medical debt for 11,101 households in the Greater St. Louis area.
  • In the New England Region, donors in the Southern New England Conference relieved $8.4 million in medical debt for 7,175 households in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and beyond – and another $17.8 million for 12,144 families of frontline “COVID Heroes” nationwide.
  • Also in West Central, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference donors provided $5.2 million in debt forgiveness for 3,234 households in those two states.

No. 6: Immigration, refugees, asylum seekers

Whether offering aid or opposing restrictive policies, many UCC ministries spoke up and took action for people who are already in the U.S. or who want to be.

No. 5: Embrace of new technologies

With COVID-19 making it unsafe to worship and meet in person, many settings of the church moved online – creating challenges, but also fresh advantages that many want to keep even when it’s safe to gather physically again.

No. 4: Wildfires, other disasters

In a year that set records for Atlantic hurricanes and wildfires in several U.S. states, the UCC and its partners were busy responding to disasters.

No. 3: Outcry for Black lives

Church people raised their voices virtually and showed up physically on the streets as the violent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd – at the hands of vigilantes and police – left much of white America unable to deny the hundreds of years of deadly burden borne by people of color.

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No. 2: The vote

Leading up to a U.S. general election which included one of the most contentious presidential elections in history – and as contention continued after the highest voter turnout ever – UCC people and churches waged nonpartisan efforts to encourage voting.

No. 1: COVID-19

The church met the novel coronavirus’s late-winter emergence not only with technical adjustments for safety (see No. 5) but with frontline pandemic responses, support of frontline workers, and a generous sharing of dollars, information, pastoral connections and community outreach.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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