Synod agenda includes anniversary moments

Key ministries in the United Church of Christ have big anniversaries coming up, and the church’s General Synod will help them blow out the candles. Figuratively, that is — and virtually.

The observances will include video tributes prepared just for this “special edition” Synod, the first ever held entirely online. Most will be part of the Synod’s “Evening of Celebration,” Thursday, July 15, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. EDT.

Half of the anniversaries are a year away — but they’re on this year’s agenda so as not to miss them between now and the next Synod in 2023.

Here is a list of the round-numbered celebrants and when to watch for their moments.

Back Bay Mission: 100 years

Devoted to “strengthening neighborhoods and seeking justice” on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, this Biloxi institution has been a destination for church work groups for decades.

Bill Johnson’s ordination: 50 years

The Rev. Bill Johnson

When the Golden Gate Association ordained him, the Rev. William R. Johnson became the first openly gay Christian minister in modern times. He’s retired now, having served in many capacities in the UCC’s national ministries. A UCC scholarship for seminarians honors him.

Open and Affirming Coalition: 50 years

First known as the UCC Gay Caucus, its evolving name had perhaps its longest iteration as the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns. The Coalition’s constant, though, has been to push for and then lead the UCC’s ONA efforts. Today it proudly proclaims those ministries to be “the world’s fastest-growing LGBT-affirming church movement.”

Association of United Church Educators: 50 years

Teaching is an ancient ministry, mentioned in the earliest letters of the church. Today, AUCE describes itself as the UCC’s “national network of faith formation ministry leaders” — adapting, as they always have, to changing times and media.

1st National People of Color Environmental Summit: 30 years


Some 1,100 people attended this four-day, UCC-sponsored event in Washington, D.C.. Remembered as a watershed in the world movement for environmental justice, its 17 Principles are still widely used.

  • Took place in 1991.
  • Learn more about it here.
  • Synod moment: Part of the Evening of Celebration, July 15. Also, the Rev. Benjamin Chavis, its key organizer, preaches July 11 during the Synod’s opening worship service.

Global Ministries: 25 years

Even before they voted to be in “full communion” as ecumenical partners, the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) had been working on something big: uniting their worldwide work. The result was Global Ministries. Since its beginning, it has cooperated — from Cleveland as well Indianapolis — with partners around the world.

  • Founded in 1996.
  • Learn about its history here.
  • Synod moment: During Plenary Session No. 4, July 18. Also, its current UCC co-executive, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, preaches July 18 during the Synod’s closing worship service.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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