Newsworthy General Synod leads to surge in ‘find a church’ requests

Almost 22,000 people have visited the “find a church” link on the websites since the denomination voted to become the first mainline Protestant denomination to affirm same-gender marriage equality Monday.

The traffic volume marks about a ten-fold increase in what is normal for a three-day period, according to Daniel J. Hazard, UCC webmaster.

Since Monday, the denomination’s “about us” pages have been the websites’ most popular, followed closely by those pages where online visitors can search for a nearby UCC congregation.

“The number of people searching for a UCC church in an effort to discover more about us reminds us all that there are many people who are yearning for a church that is open and welcoming to all,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president. “We celebrate that even actions that are difficult can be witnesses to hope and grace in people’s lives. It is clear that there is both a cost and a joy to discipleship and we should anticipate some of both.”

Roughly 80 percent of the representatives on the church’s 884-member General Synod voted to approve the resolution July 4, a day after a smaller committee recommended it.

The resolution calls on the denomination’s 5,750 churches to consider wedding policies “that do not discriminate against couples based on gender.” It also asks churches to consider supporting legislation granting equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples and to work against laws banning gay marriage.

Church leaders this week have acknowledged the possibility that some members or congregations might choose to leave the denomination in the wake of the General Synod’s vote.

But the Rev. Timothy Downs, head of the UCC’s Southeastern Conference, which has seen its membership double to 12,000 since 1996, said he believes church membership will increase rather than decrease as a result of the UCC having taken its stand.

“The fact that so many people have already begun searching for a UCC church is a premonition of what is to come,” he said. “Thousands of people are going to be seeking out churches in the United Church of Christ because of its spirit of welcome, because it is open to dialogue and to asking questions and because of its welcome of all people.”

Downs said Tuesday that in the two days since the denomination voted to affirm marriage equality, four independent churches in the Southeast have expressed to him a desire to begin exploring entering into partnership with the UCC.

“And I firmly believe that will be the rule and not the exception,” he said.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

Related News

UCC commemorates Juneteenth, exploring ‘healing as freedom, freedom as healing’

The comforting words to the African American spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead” remind...

Read More

Generative Artificial Intelligence for local churches: policy webinar June 18

Register now for an informational webinar about managing risks and policy development on...

Read More

Love is Louder logos available for use during Pride month

As Pride month continues, many organizations want to show their support for their LGBTQIA+...

Read More