History, future of UCC strike chord with Synod youth visitors to Amistad Chapel
When asked by the Rev. Kathryn Matthews Huey whether any of the more than 100 youth and young adults visiting the UCC’s Amistad Chapel wished to play its historic pipe organ on Sunday, Gabe Lemke didn’t hesitate.
Returning to his seat in the church located in the denomination’s national headquarters, he was complimented for the selection he’d just shared with his peers taking part this weekend at General Synod 2015.
“Oh,” said the 14-year-old member of McFarland (Wisc.) UCC, “I was just improvising. That was something I just made up.”
The impromptu performance followed welcoming remarks by Huey, pastor of the new church start, and preceded greetings by the Rev. Jo Hudson – gathering pastor of Extravagance UCC, the denomination’s first online church. Huey offered a glance at the Amistad’s past; Hudson, a glimpse into its future.
“The Amistad is a great story about people who rose up for freedom, persisted and, with the help of the abolitionists and Congregationalists, were able to win their freedom,” said Huey, referring to the 19th-century ship La Amistad and the captives it carried.
Hudson spoke passionately about the UCC online faith community (extravaganceucc.org), whose stated purpose is “Extending Hope, Expecting Peace and Extolling Justice.” She made special mention that the online tool includes a Bible study on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evening live-streaming sessions led by the Rev. Kimberly Knight, minister of digital communities.
“This is outreach and ministry that’s informative and compelling for people who want to participate,” said Hudson. “Today I want to pick your brains to see how well we’re doing.” Hudson then asked the group for feedback regarding their Synod experience –– what’s working, what’s kind of working, what’s not working.
She emphasized that the online ministry is designed not to replace traditional church, but rather to complement it.
“This can be a resource for the unchurched or those looking for a church,” said Hudson. “It’s still the United Church of Christ. This is a new way of doing church, growing an online ministry into unexpected places.”
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