The Chicago Temple
June 11, 2006
This message comes via Rev. Dr. Jane Fisler Hoffman, Conference Minister of the Illinois Conference. It was preached on Trinity Sunday by Rev. Philip L. Blackwell, pastor of the downtown Chicago United Methodist Church, also known as the Chicago Temple.
I said to everyone involved with printing the bulletins, “Please put two m’s into the sermon title. I don’t want to talk about God’s ‘coma’ and have to revive the ‘Death of God’ theology of the 1960’s and 70’s. It’s God’s comma.”
And here it is, right here. I am wearing a comma lapel pin that was given to me by my good friend and United Church of Christ minister, Chuck Wildman. The comma is part of the most recent advertising campaign of the UCC. The punch line is, “Don’t put a period where God has put a comma.” That’s a good line. I asked Chuck who said that, which famous theologian. And he replied, “Gracie Allen.” Some of us remember Burns and Allen. Gracie Allen at her theological best, “Don’t put a period where God has put a comma.”
The television ads accompanying this advertising campaign for the United Church of Christ were rejected by the major networks – CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX. “Too controversial,” some said. “Too religious,” others judged. Imagine, something religious being controversial. What the video shows is a traditional church family sitting in a traditional church. A woman nearby struggles with a crying baby, the traditional family glares disapprovingly, and then they push an ejection button and the mother and crying child are jettisoned from the church. And then the family ejects a poor person, a gay couple, and a Middle Eastern-looking man. Finally, the voice over said, “God doesn’t reject people. Neither do we.”
The networks did not want anything that provocative on television. Imagine all that we see each day on the screen, and the message that God does not reject us is too much.
The essential truth of that spot announcement is our point for this morning: God continues to reveal new truths to us. God continues to build new communities for us. God continues to reach out to us so that no one is left out of the family of God. So, let us not dare to put a period where God has put a comma.
This notion of continuing revelation makes some people uncomfortable. After all, isn’t everything that we need to know in the Bible? Isn’t everything already said and done? Some of us remember the old bumper sticker (have you noticed that there are no new bumper stickers these days?), the old one dictated, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”
But, if that were true, then the disciples of Jesus would have been misled. They believed that God was doing something new in Jesus Christ. There would have been no new revelation in what Jesus said and did. All that about, “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say to you, ‘Turn the other cheek,’” all of that would have had to be thrown out. No new interpretations allowed of the scriptures. No healings of unclean. No challenges to the moneychangers and the legalists. No inclusion of the outsiders. No calling Jesus “Messiah,” “Lord,” “Savior.” All of that would have to be considered an “activist” interpretation of the text, in this case, what we call the Hebrew Scripture, the Old Testament. Without perceiving God’s continued revelation in Jesus the Christ, there would be no New Testament.
And there would be no Church. We understand today that the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is what we celebrate on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift of God’s self to the Church so that we may exist throughout history, around the world, with vitality and purpose.
Do we understand what we have just said? We have spoken in Trinitarian terms. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is an affirmation of the Church that God continues to reveal to us God’s truth, God’s will, God’s intention for us. God’s communication with us is filled with commas, not periods, not full stops. And beware any of us who try to end God’s story prematurely, saying that we now know all there is to know, and close the book on God.
The Trinity is a complex concept – God, Three in One and One in Three, in traditional language Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in functional language Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. I attended the General Conference several years ago and overheard a conversation in the hallway in which a prominent minister on the fundamentalist side of things was saying to a newspaper reporter, “Now, we believe in three gods. The Jews believe only in one, but we believe in three – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” And I intercepted the reporter after the conversation and pleaded with him not to print that.
We do not believe in three gods. We believe in one God who reveals the divine truth and love to us in a multitude of ways. And the best way that the tradition has been able to characterize it, the dominant metaphor, has been to imagine God as playing three characters in a drama, three “personae.” One is the creator who relates to us through all there is around us, another is the redeemer who relates to us personally so that we all might be made whole through him, “saved” as John the gospel writer puts it, and a third person who relates to us is the sustainer, the one who energizes us, who keeps us going. It is not a logical construction, but it reveals a truth beyond logic. At the heart of God is the divine urge to relate to us. The concept of the Trinity is relational, and it is all about loving us, John 3:16, not condemning us, John 3:17. God is writing human history with commas, not periods.
Today we have a lot going on. Not only do we honor this as Trinity Sunday, but also as Peace with Justice Sunday. And you see the description and envelope in the bulletin that underlines the belief that God’s love needs to be revealed continually in the real world of politics, food, and human rights. This also, by our own declaration, is Reconciling Congregation Sunday. Today we honor a decision this congregation made a decade ago publicly to make clear that we welcome everyone into the religious life here at the Chicago Temple. Every week we place our welcoming statement in our printed material:
We know that some people read that and decide to stay away from this church. We sense that many more read it and come close to see if we really mean it, if we really live by it. Earlier this year, in the face of the divisiveness over homosexuality that rends asunder the United Methodist denomination, our Church Council reaffirmed this welcoming statement. This is who God calls us to be here in the middle of the city. This represents our faithful intention. This is our expression of John 3:16 and 17, of God’s love for the whole world, “God so loved the world,” and of God’s acceptance, “not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through (Jesus Christ).” Our welcoming statement stands in the tradition of acknowledging that God continues to reveal divine truth to us. It represents our comma, not a period.
Let’s put our statement into an historical context. October 1845, two theologians, Jonathan Blanchard and Nathan Rice, debate in Cincinnati. The issue: the Bible’s view of slavery. For four days, eight hours a day, they contended, Blanchard appealing to the whole scope of the Bible, the principles of justice and righteousness, to the declaration of the unity of all as God’s children, Rice quoting over and over chapter and verse justifying slavery.
Today could we imagine such a debate over slavery? Could we imagine people invoking the legal definition of African-Americans as three-fifths of a person? There is no debate. There is no defense of what John Wesley called in his own time the “inexorable villainy” of American slavery. But at one time slavery defined the American church, and the Methodists split north and south like everybody else, and it was not until 1939 that the two regional segments of Methodism were reunited. And it was not until 1968 that full inclusion of African-Americans was completed. Today it is a mark of shame upon us. But then, it was an open debate. God continues to reveal truth to us. God continues to write the story with a comma even when we try to end it with a period.
The role of women in the church, the next big debate after slavery. Do you know who the first woman was who was ordained by a recognized church body in America? Antoinette Brown Blackwell in 1853, by the Congregationalists. She was the sister-in-law of the first female doctor in America, Elizabeth Blackwell. Over the years, I have gone out on a genealogical limb trying to connect our family with that branch of the Blackwells. I have not found the connection yet, but what a great family tree to be part of.
This summer the United Methodists will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first woman ordained in our denomination, only a century after the Congregationalists! But it was a tough fight. For decades people said, “But look what it says here: ‘Woman, keep silent in the Church.’ Paul said it, so it is true forever.” John Wesley was ahead of his time when he invited women to teach classes and read scripture in public. But it took the institution a long time to erase the period where God had only put a comma. Tuesday night Cerna Castro Rand will be ordained an elder in the church. Last year Cheryl Magrini was ordained a deacon. Is there any doubt about their gifts or call to the ministry? None at all, but within the lifetime of some of us their ordination would not have been possible. God’s continued revelation enriches the Church. A comma, not a period.
Friday Sally and I accompanied our two grandchildren, Karl age 4, (that’s Karl with a “K”), and Julia, 2, and their parents, Liz and Dave, to the Field Museum and the Planetarium. Eighty years ago, the exhibits that dazzled us would not have been possible. At the Field Museum, it was the story of the evolution of life on our planet. At the Planetarium it was the telling of the beginning and continued change of our universe. In the 1920’s any scientific evolutionary theory was under attack by the Church. There was the Scopes Trial in Tennessee, Darrow versus Bryan. Clarence Darrow had his office in the Chicago Temple during those years. Today we claim him; he never claimed us.
Darrow lost, and Scopes was fined for teaching non-biblical theories of science. Today, except for the most hard-boiled of literalists, there is little debate over the role of science and the complementary, but distinct, role of faith. The stories of creation in the Bible, and there are many of them, are the faithful witnesses of the communities who told the stories. They are not to be read as astrophysics. But, the Church has been so slow to erase the period it placed after the Book of Genesis that it took the Vatican 350 years to forgive Galileo for being right! “Do not put a period where God has put a comma.”
And so, I suggest, it is with our welcoming statement. What we say about all people, and expressly about gays and lesbians and transgendered people because that is the issue of the day, grows out of our respect for God’s continuing revelation. As James Russell Lowell wrote, “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.”
Our statement grows out of the impulse to argue from the spirit of the faith rather than the letter of the law, the general rather than the particular. And if some insist that we must argue about the particulars in scripture, chapter and verse, then let us start not with sexual identity issues, about which Jesus says nothing, but with caring for the poor, about which he says a lot. And about hospitality for the outsider, and about tithing and the use of money, and about hypocrisy and lying, and about mean-spiritedness, and about warmongering, and about violence, and about god-forsakenness in our personal lives.
We welcome all because God has accepted us all. We know that because it has been revealed by God the creator, by God the redeemer, and by God the sustainer. We know that because God, in big and small ways, continues to show us what is of most importance and what is irrelevant.
Let us pray that the Church be relevant to God as well as to society. Let us pray that we remain open to God’s lead so that the whole world may know of God’s love, a love that does not condemn but brings new life. God’s story continues, comma after comma after comma. Thanks be to God! Amen.
Justice and Witness Ministries is one of four Covenanted Ministries in the UCC, helps local congregations and all settings of the church respond to God's commandments to do justice, seek peace and effect change for a better world. The work of JWM is guided by the pronouncements and resolutions approved by the UCC at General Synod.
|Who We Are|
Our Mission: To speak and act prophetically through community mobilization, leadership training, issues education, public witness, and public policy advocacy.
Guiding Principles - JWM is:
- Inspired by God's grace and through the prayerful discernment and courageous witness of God's people.
- Grounded in biblical and theological understandings of God's mission and the justice and compassion to which the gospel calls us.
- Rooted in the conviction that all forms of oppression and injustice can be overcome.
- Committed to full inclusion and to creating institutional structures and practices that support the self-determination of those who have been marginalized and silenced.
- Called by God to have a transforming impact on local, national, and global communities.
- Encouraged by the prophetic witness of the United Church of Christ in the past and present, and dedicated to sustaining this witness into the future.
- Convinced that God's vision of "Another World is Possible"
Un diálogo inteligente y una postura independiente a veces le ha significado a la Iglesia Unida de Cristo (UCC) y sus 1,4 millones de miembros/as ser llamados/as "una mezcla temeraria y provocadora". La UCC tiende a ser la denominación más progresista que libre de tapujos une el corazón y la mente. Y es así que la UCC logra balancear la autonomía congregacional con un fuerte compromiso de unidad entre sus casi 6.000 congregaciones –a pesar de las múltiples diferencias entre muchas de las congregaciones locales sobre una variedad de temas.
Aún cuando importantes elementos de la herencia e historia que se remontan al siglo XVI se mantienen, la UCC y sus antecesores/as se han demostrado a sí mismos/as que son capaces de avanzar, uniendo la fe a la justicia social y concibiendo una teología y servicio que va más allá en un mundo que está en constante cambio. Reafirmando que Jesucristo es la cabeza de la Iglesia, la UCC reclama como propia la fe de la iglesia histórica expresada en los credos ancestrales y reivindicada en los conocimientos elementales de los reformistas protestantes. Sin embargo, la UCC también afirma la responsabilidad de la iglesia en cada generación y comunidad de hacer de la fe algo propio en cada realidad de adoración, con honestidad a través del pensamiento y la expresión, y en pureza de corazón ante Dios. Mira a la Palabra de Dios en las Escrituras, y a la presencia y el poder del Espíritu Santo para prosperar su trabajo creativo y redentor en el mundo. Una de las características que distingue a la UCC es su tendencia a creer que... Dios todavía nos habla...aún cuando nos deja ahí solos/as. La historia muestra que, las más de las veces, sólo estamos solos/as por un momento. Además, recibimos tantos regalos de parte de nuestros/as hermanos/as ecuménicos/as, que estar "adelantados/as" parece ser uno/a de los nuestros/as.
La UCC reconoce dos sacramentos: el Bautismo y la Cena del Señor o la Santa Comunión.
¿Quiere saber más? Para más información y aprender sobre la rica historia de la UCC visite ucc.org
|Rev. John H. Thomas|
El Alma de Nuestra Identidad
Tercer sábado después de Pentecostés
20 de junio, 2004
Desde nuestra fundación, la Iglesia Unida de Cristo ha luchado por articular su identidad. Los nombres de denominaciones antepasadas identifican elementos importantes: Evangélico evoca una piedad moldeada por un encuentro personal con el Evangelio. Congregacional nos recuerda lo medular de la iglesia local para el discipulado y la misión. Reformada nos enseña que la iglesia y la sociedad son sujetas al pecado y deben, por lo tanto, ser reformadas de acuerdo a la palabra profética. Cristiana nos conecta con aquellos/as que aman la simplicidad de un compromiso con Jesús quien nos invita a la Mesa.
Desde 1957 otras frases nos han ayudado a articular nuestra vocación característica: Somos una iglesia "unida y unificante" en busca de la renovación a través de la visión de la oración de Cristo "que todos sean unos/unas para que mundo crea". Nosotros somos una iglesia de "paz justa" con un compromiso para terminar con la violencia y opresión. Somos una "iglesia multirracial, multicultural" que anhela el día en que nuestras congregaciones reflejen de manera más integral la visión de Pentecostés. Somos una iglesia "abierta y afirmante" donde a nadie se le niega su identidad bautismal debido a su identidad sexual. Somos una iglesia "accesible" que valora los dones de todos/as sin importar sus habilidades físicas o mentales. Recientemente hemos estados pensando sobre lo que significa llamarnos a nosotros mismos "la iglesia del Dios que todavía habla", una iglesia que cree que Dios tiene aún mucha más luz y verdad que compartir en Su Palabra.
Cada una de estas frases captura una dimensión importante de nuestra vida juntos/as. Sin embargo, Pablo también nos dice que centro de nuestra identidad trasciende las categorías humanas. En Cristo somos hijos/as de Dios a través de la fe, herederos/as de acuerdo a la promesa de Dios. Al final la identidad tiene que ver con pertenencia, y nosotros/as pertenecemos A Cristo antes que a ningún partido o agenda. Mientras celebramos esta semana el cumpleaños de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo, agradecemos aquellos dones que nos distinguen que marcan nuestra contribución exclusiva al testimonio cristiano en el mundo. Más aún, agradecemos que a través de esta iglesia hemos recibido nuestra herencia junto a todos/as quienes son uno/a en Cristo.
Reverendo John H. Thomas
Ministro General y Presidente
Iglesia Unida de Cristo
The United Church of Christ Historical Council was created in 1975 by the Tenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ. The Historical Council expresses concern for all archival collections related to the denomination and reminds the United Church of Christ of its traditions.
Each year, the UCC Historical Council makes an appeal to support the Congregational Christian Historical Society, the Evangelical & Reformed Historical Society, and the United Church of Christ Archives. Respond to the appeal and make a donation here.
The UCC Historical Council advocates on behalf of the following institutions that care for various aspects of United Church of Christ history and heritage:
The Archives of the United Church of Christ
Located at Church House in Cleveland, the UCC Archives preserves the records of the church's national setting since 1957. All questions concerning parish and family records, the work of General Synod, and the history of the national setting of the UCC should be directed to the UCC Archives.
Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society
Located at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, the Society cultivates interest in the heritage of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS), the Evangelical Synod of North America, and the denomination founded in 1934 as a result of the merger of these two bodies: the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Lancaster Seminary also maintains the Reformed Church archives, plus a collection of records from the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The archives for the Evangelical and Reformed Church Historical Society (Southern Chapter), formerly housed at the Catawba College Archives, is now housed at the Evangelical & Reformed Historical Society. Most of the information in the archives is about the churches in North Carolina that were former Reformed Church in the United States/Evangelical and Reformed Churches. Please click on the link above for more information.
The Society is located at the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston. The library and archives are administered by the American Congregational Association and was founded in 1853 "for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating a library of religious history and literature of New England." The records of the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches are maintained here. Formed in 1853 with the gift of 56 books from its owners' personal collections, the Congregational Library now holds 225,000 items documenting the history of one of the nation's oldest and most influential religious traditions. Please click on one of the links above for more information.
The Archives at Eden Theological Seminary collects, preserves and makes available the historical records and manuscripts related to Eden Theological Seminary and the Evangelical Synod of North America, a predecessor denomination of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the United Church of Christ. Also held at the Archives at Eden Theological Seminary are the Deaconess Archives, which cover the period from the Society's founding in 1889 to the sale of Deaconess Hospital in 1997.The Archives has the records of many congregations with roots in the Evangelical Synod of North America, with emphasis on those in the St. Louis metropolitan area and other communities in Missouri and southern Illinois. Please click on the link above for more information.
The Church History Collection at Elon Archives contains the archives of the Christian Church until 1965 when the denomination became part of the United Church of Christ. Please click on the link above for more information.
Amistad Research Center
The Amistad Research Center holds the records for the American Missionary Association as well as for the United Church Board for Home Missions offices that continued the work of the A.M.A. Please click on the link above for more information.
Vacation Bible Study Learning Design
God is still speaking, Listen and Serve
This learning design is for children pre-school through 5th grade, and it sure looks like they had fun!
It is a plan for a 3-evening VacationBibleSchool exploring themes from God is still speaking,
We’re not too young to listen and serve
We welcome everybody
The design is a gift to the church from First Congregational UCC and Mayflower UCC of Sioux City, Iowa and UCC of North Sioux City of North Sioux City, South Dakota.
Here are links to easy-to-reproduce materials and practical guidance to running the program with your group.
- Objectives and schedule
- Come listen – arts
- Come listen – drama
- go tell – arts
- Go serve – story and service
- Story – arts
- Jar lights – arts
- Music and movement
(See a VBS design from the same trio exploring identity in light of God is still speaking,
Vacation Bible School)
Put the Stillspeaking colors and images on your building, on your desk, on your table, on your body. The better and more often you connect with the brand, the more likely people who recognize the United Church of Christ will connect with you.
We’ve kept United Church of Christ Resources (a.k.a. the warehouse) busy with sales nearly 4 times larger than expected, and last December stuff was flying off the shelves! We have sold more than $431,000 in Stillspeaking products - $187,000 went to fundThe Stillspeaking Initiative.
All our vendors are sweat free
Many vendors tithe to The Stillspeaking Initiative
Visit the Stillspeaking Store for lotsa great stuff -- from Stocking Stuffers to Gift Combos.
Stillspeaking Gift Combos
Stillspeaking Gift Combos
(Black padded portfolio w/solar calculator, embossed cover text reads: God is still speaking, - UCC emblem; Red comma on black mug/text reads: God is still speaking,)
(Black padded portfolio w/solar calculator, embossed cover text reads: God is still speaking, - UCC emblem; 1 lanyard (available in red or black) and 1 blinker pen)
(Short sleeve T-shirt, with text that reads: God is still speaking, includes Gracie quote and red comma – available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL in red or black; Baseball caps available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking,- includes Stillspeaking url)
Baseball cap, 5-pack of wristbands, temporary tattoos - $30.00
(Baseball cap available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking/includes Stillspeaking url; a 5-pack of wristbands (available in red or black); a pack of 50 tattoos (black comma on red background)
(Short sleeve golf shirt, available in red or black/text reads: God is still speaking/includes Stillspeaking url. Available in Women’s sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL and Men’s sizes M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL; and 1 sleeve of golf balls (3 balls per sleeve) - Top Flite XL Pure Distance, stamped with red comma and UCC.org url)
(Red canvas tote, text reads: God is still speaking, with Stillspeaking url; Short sleeve T-shirt, with text that reads: God is still speaking, includes Gracie quote and red comma – available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL in red or black; Baseball caps available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking,-includes Stillspeaking url)
(Sturdy backpack in black with red comma, measures 17"h x 13"w x 6"d; Short sleeve T-shirt, with text that reads: God is still speaking, includes Gracie quote and red comma – available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL in red or black; Baseball caps available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking/includes Stillspeaking url)
(10 white bandanas with red comma and text that reads: God is still speaking, - 5-pack of wristbands (red or black); 10 Stillspeaking commas in red)
(Sturdy backpack in black with red comma, measures 17"h x 13"w x 6"d; Baseball caps available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking/includes Stillspeaking url; Black comma on red mug/text reads: God is still speaking; 2 sleeves of golf balls ( 3 balls per sleeve) - Top Flite XL Pure Distance, stamped with red comma and UCC.org url; 2 blinker pens, with text that reads: God is still speaking,; a 5-pack of wristbands (red or black)
(Sturdy backpack in black with red comma, measures 17"h x 13"w x 6"d; Long sleeve T-shirt available in black only, text reads: If you think getting up Sunday morning is hard, try rising from the dead – available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL ; Black comma on red mug/text reads: God is still speaking, -includes Stillspeaking url; Baseball caps available in red, black and beige, with text that reads: God is still speaking, includes Stillspeaking url; a 5-pack of wristbands ( red or black)
High impact newspaper advertising
Think out of the box
Newspaper ads #1
Who? Laurie Hafner, pastor, Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, Cleveland, OH
What? High impact newspaper advertising
Where? Place your newspaper ad where and when it’s not expected.
More...Place ads everywhere -- local newsletters, flyers, concert programs, etc.
Radio and print ads reinforce one another, so try to combine media. People hear a quirky radio ad and see a cool print ad – they remember. And if there’s an invitation from a friend ... (See Ideas that Work)
Newspapaper ads #2
Who? Hal Cutler, moderator, Memorial Congregational Church UCC, Sudbury, MA
When? Any time
Where? In a daily or weekly newspaper
Why? Ad purchasing power grows exponentially with more participants
How? Research the options with your local paper. Use the free headlines (see Advent tool #5) or the Stillspeaking Graphics Toolkit (customizable headlines). Recruit partners and arrange the placement details.
More…Memorial spearheaded joint advertising in the Metrowest Daily News: 1) Determining the coverage of the newspaper, the desired days to advertise and the budget available, 2) Creating a sample ad and contacting the nearby UCC churches to participate in a group purchase, allowing for variable contributions, 3) Running the ad(s) with the names, addresses & phone numbers of each church. This spirit of cooperation allows for a much bigger impact than one church could have alone, and sends a positive message about fellowship among local congregations. Also, Townsend Congregational Church, UCC placed an ad in The Coffee News, a free weekly distributed at coffee shops and the like; Mattapoisett Congregational Church, UCC put an ad in the local bargain buster; and First Congregational Church Brimfield joined with First Church of Monson, UCC to run a color ad in the shopping guide that’s mailed to every home in both church areas.
Likewise, First Congregational Church, UCC, Stoughton bought a billboard ad, after deciding on the best location and learning about its views-per-day statistics.
Try this variation from Stillspeaking:
Some churches or groups of churches are buying 4 to 8 page inserts though their local newspaper. When you do this, you can determine the specific zip codes you want to deliver it to. Many areas have highly affordable rates.
From Stillspeaking 102 (Stillspeaking Training Manual revised and reissued Summer 2005. Chapter contains 18 more tried and tested ideas from local churches.
United Black Christians 20th Convocation
"Lest we forget"
July 25-28, 2012
Full Registration Fee: $125
Includes The Amistad Tour, 2 lunches, 3 dinners, daily round-trip transportation from the hotel to various venues, to the airport on Saturday morning at the end of the Convocation*, registration bag and literature and more! A daily Registration Fee of $50 is also available.
• Amistad Tour
• History of the Black Church
• Powerful Preaching
• Joyful Music
• Engaging Bible Study
• Nurturing Fellowship
• Election & Installation of Officers… and more
Highlights and Schedule
UBC represents lay and clergy persons who faithfully minister in more than 278 predominately African American congregations of the United Church of Christ and those African American members in congregations that are not predominately African American.
UBC seeks to preserve our tradition as a people of faith and hope. UBC recognizes that it is the Black Church that has meant survival for African Americans on these shores. UBC affirms that it is the Black Church that will assure our continued growth, development, endurance and ultimate liberation.
UBC affirms that each of us has gifts to offer and is entitled to the full rights and privileges of the United Church of Christ.
"Remembering Our Way Into the Future" ~ Zechariah 8:4-8
United Black Christians (UBC) is an officially recognized special interest group of the United Church of Christ (UCC), providing voice and vision for more than 70,000 African Americans.
United Black Christians seeks to:
Provide voice for the African American members of the United Church of Christ
To strengthen Black churches in the UCC
To train and nurture leaders of our churches for Gospel inspired service to the Black community
To provide relevant ministry for our youth and young adults
To empower the laity for present day ministry
To create ecumenical and world wide partnership for service and evangelism
To be active advocates for liberation and racial justice at home and abroad.
To provide spiritual nurture for our members
To enhance clergy-lay ministry partnership
To provide support to African American Seminarians
National and Regional Intergenerational Leadership Development Events
Annual Anniversary Stewardship Campaign
General Synod Participation
And Much More...
Intergenerational Leadership Development
Intentional Seeding of UCC New Church Starts
Collaboration with the Council of Conference Ministers
Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Monitoring Affirmative Action in the UCC
Black Church Summit: Focus on Black Poverty
Local Church Development and Evangelism
The Good News
UBC provides intergenerational leadership in all settings of the United Church of Christ
UBC is a resource for local church ministry
UBC provides opportunities for seminarians, youth and young adults
United Black Christians
Mission trip grants
One Great Hour of Sharing supports programs internationally for sustainable development, emergency relief, refugee advocacy and resettlement, and disaster preparedness and response. Mission Trips must be coordinated through Global Ministries and must provide a response to a stated need in one of the beforementioned areas.
How to apply
Contact and coordinate with the Global Ministries People-to-People (UCC and Disciples of Christ)Program Office for a list of acceptable projects located outside the U.S. and Canada. The People to People Program is based in Indianapolis. Phone Number 1-317-713-2579.
Complete the One Great Hour of Sharing Mission Trip Application that includes information about the nature of the project, date of the project, number of participants, name of sponsoring congregation or body, and a brief statement as to how the project is seen as an extension of One Great Hour of Sharing's purpose and priorities.
When possible, applications for partner grants should be made to the Global Sharing of Resources Office by December 1 of the year prior to the trip.
Priority will be given to projects that are coordinated through Global Ministries. Priority will also be given to projects that have not received a grant in the previous three years.
Grants will normally be made for up to $500. Grants will be directed to the sponsoring congregation. Grants should normally be used for materials and supplies or for financial assistance to persons who otherwise would not be able to participate.
All groups should remember that One Great Hour of Sharing funds have been entrusted to Wider Church Ministries to use wisely, responsibly and compassionately to bring help and hope to people severely impacted by disaster, poverty, hunger, and other humanitarian deprivations.
All gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing are tax deductible and 100% of designated gifts go to the designated area of response. Non-designated funds are encouraged. They allow One Great Hour of Sharing to address future hidden and forgotten emergencies around the world.
If you have hugs to spare, consider sponsoring a child through our Global Ministries Child Sponsorship Program, a global children's ministry of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For more than 40 years we have provided assistance to destitute children in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. Currently, we have eleven centers participating and approximately 1000 children in the program.
What Child Sponsorship is...
Our program works closely with private centers that have long-established links with a UCC or Disciples global ministry partner. The program helps to provide basic meals, clothing, shelter and health care to children in orphanages and shelters for homeless children. In some cases partial school fees and uniforms are provided through support of sponsors.
Sponsorship fees range from $25 to $40. Sponsorship costs vary according to the services a center provides and the cost of living in that country. No funds are sent to government institutions or individuals. Sponsors receive a letter, with a brief biography and photo of their child. If the child is old enough to write, sponsors can expect a minimum of two letters a year, and/or periodic progress resports from the center's administrator.
For more information about our program, please contact:
Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115