The Alliance of Baptists, an affiliation of more than 100 Baptist congregations, has been in official conversation with the United Church of Christ since the mid-nineties.
Historically, Baptists and the churches that organized the UCC in 1957 have had a close but at times painful history. Conflict between Congregationalists and Baptists in 17th-century New England resulted in the flight of Baptist dissenters from Massachusetts Bay Colony and their founding of a new colony in Rhode Island dedicated to religious freedom. The growing relationship between the Alliance and the UCC has offered an opportunity for both traditions to explore their their history, but more than that, it has helped both traditions discover a wealth of shared biblical and theological conviction.
UCC and Alliance congregations are beginning to form strong and enduring partnerships. Many of these relationships are growing in the Southeast, where the Baptist tradition is particularly strong.
General Synod in 2001 affirmed the continuing dialogue between the two churches, and invited the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to join the conversation as observers. We hope that in the near future Disciples will be able to enter the dialogue as full partners.
|Links to Resources|
The UCC's commitment to reconciliation among the separated branches of the Body of Christ includes our relationships of full communion. Among these relationships are the Ecumenical Partnership between the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Formula of Agreement (FOA) among the UCC, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Reformed Church in America. Another relationship—which aims eventually to establish full communion among nine Protestant and Anglican churches in the U.S.—is Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC). For the first time, CUIC offers hope that full ecclesial reconciliation will be possible between historically African American and European American churches.
Full communion means that divided churches recognize each others' sacraments and provide for the orderly transfer of ministers from one denomination to another. For example, Disciples of Christ ministers frequently serve UCC congregations, and UCC ministers can be called by Disciples congregations. While full communion opens up broad possibilities for cooperation among the national and regional ministries of participating churches, it is above all in relationships between local congregations that agreements of full communion become alive.
Some of these relationships are new; others date back to earlier centuries. In 17th-century Holland, the Pilgrims (who later founded the first Congregational churches in New England) were in full communion with the French and Dutch Reformed churches. We have for decades been in full communion with the worldwide Reformed family through the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. In recent years, we have entered into bilateral relationships with the Union of Evangelical Churches (Germany) and the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa. We are also exploring a closer relationship with the Baptist tradition through dialogue with the Alliance of Baptists.
Links to Resources
A Journey to Full Communion (United Church of Canada)
Ecumenical Partnership (Disciples/UCC)
Formula of Agreement (Reformed/Lutheran)
Alliance of Baptists
Churches Uniting in Christ
Union of Evangelical Churches (Germany)
Congregational Christian Church (American Samoa)
World Alliance of Reformed Churches [WARC website]
Links to Websites of Our Ecumenical Partners
African Methodist Episcopal Church 2
Alliance of Baptists
Armenian Evangelical Union 1
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 1 2
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church 2
Episcopal Church 2
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 1
International Council of Community Churches 2
Presbyterian Church (USA) 1 2
Reformed Church in America 1
Union der Evangelischen Kirchen 1
United Methodist Church 2
1 Relationships of full communion
2 Churches Uniting in Christ. The African American Episcopal Zion Church is also a member of CUIC but at present does not have a churchwide website.
The United Church of Christ is a founding member of the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and many other ecumenical agencies and projects. The NCC and WCC began to take shape in the late 19th-century in response to the worldwide ecumenical movement.
The UCC is also a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches—the worldwide communion of churches in the Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalist traditions.
|Links to Resources|
Centuries of division between the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestant Christianity came to an end in 1997 when three Reformed churches (including the UCC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America agreed on a relationship of full communion through a "Formula of Agreement." A few years earlier, Reformed and Lutheran churches in Europe—where the division between the two Protestant families dates back to the time of Luther and Calvin—agreed to a similar reconciliation through the Leuenberg Agreement.
acknowledges common historical roots between the two traditions, with a deeply shared theological and liturgical heritage.
moves beyond the historic 16th-century condemnations that divided Lutheran and Reformed Christians.
accepts the reality that there are important theological, spiritual and liturgical differences between the two traditions, but that these are not church-dividing, but rather a gift to each other.
celebrates the potential for shared mission and ministry as the two traditions grow closer.
The United Church of Christ is the only church in the relationship that has roots in both the Reformed and Lutheran heritage. Our "German Evangelical" tradition drew from the wells of both Reformed and Lutheran Christianity. Many UCC congregations of our "German Reformed" tradition—especially in historically German-American communities in Pennsylvania—have lived together with Lutheran congregations as "union churches" since the 18th century.
|Links to Resources|
General Synod: 1997 vote for Formula of Agreement
Text of Formula of Agreement
Orderly Exchange of Ministers of Word and Sacrament
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA website]
Presbyterian Church (USA) [PCUSA website]
Reformed Church in America [RCA website]
Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry -- historic step by divided Christian churches towards a common understanding
In 1982 the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) published an historic theological statement titled "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" (BEM). The statement represents years of ecumenical study and dialogue on the the church's sacraments and offices of ministry. BEM explores what can be affirmed together by Christian churches of several (and historically separated) traditions—including churches of the Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican and Orthodox families. It also recognizes that much more work remains before these traditions as they explore the many different accents in sacramental life and the understanding of ministry in the Body of Christ.
In 1985, General Synod received and committed itself to further study of the BEM statement. Both the BEM text and General Synod's response are available here, along with links to other WCC resources.
|Links to Resources|
Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry Statement [WCC website]
Faith and Order pages [WCC website]
General Synod action on BEM
UCC response to BEM
It costs about $35,000 to incarcerate a juvenile. It takes just $7,000 a year to educate one.
Juveniles can be tried as adults in all 50 states, and are vulnerable to adult punishments. They may also be remanded to adult prisons.
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child states that crimes committed by a juvenile should not result in execution or life in prison without parole. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute people for crimes they committed as children. As a consequence, a number of young people were released from death row into the general prison population. Five other countries execute people for juvenile offenses: Iran, Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
The Twenty-Third General Synod stated, "We affirm the right of juveniles to an equitable system of justice that respects the life and promise of our youth."
October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month
The United States has more than 60,000 children sitting in jail, lost in a broken system that has led our country to incarcerate more children than any other nation. Why are we turning our backs on the youngest, most vulnerable members of society, locking up 2 out of 3 of those who are convicted of nonviolent offenses? Why are 80 percent of children who are imprisoned black or Hispanic? And why are we punishing these children so harshly, dooming some of them to solitary confinement, where they are left torturously alone, causing severe physical and psychological harm? Voices from all points of the political spectrum, including the faith community are calling for answers and solutions to these and many other issues. They are speaking out and raising awareness for criminal justice and youth justice reform.
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative committed to seeking solutions for these troubling questions. It is focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
Annually, the Campaign sponsors National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) which aims to provide people across the country an opportunity to develop action-oriented events in their communities during the month of October. Individuals, communities and organizations can advocate for better juvenile justice policies by elevating the importance of issues such as determining the age that juveniles are classified as adults, housing juveniles with adult offenders, and isolation in solitary confinement. This year President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation observing October as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. Read the President’s Proclamation.
One way that your local congregation can be involved this year is to partner with organizations to get local governments or state Governors to pass resolutions declaring that October is Youth Justice Awareness Month.
- Youth Justice Awareness Month Guide to Passing a Resolution
- How to Host a Film Screening
- Childhood Interrupted (Film | Discussion Guide)
- Stickup Kid (Film | Discussion Questions)
JWM is interested in knowing what activities, actions your local congregation will undertake during National Youth Justice Awareness Month. Email your events, film screenings, discussion, actions, photos, stories, etc. to Barbara T. Baylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG NEWS: Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act introduced in Congress
Recently, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation, S.1169, to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which was created in 1974 and has not been updated since 2002.
The legislation would make improvements to the law, including:
- incorporating recent research into adolescent behavior and brain research,
- requiring that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) identify best practices to serve and protect at-risk youth,
- phasing out remaining circumstances when youth can be detained for status offenses (offenses which would not be a crime if committed by an adult),
- removing youth charged in adult court from placement in adult jails.
The JJDPA is the only federal law that sets national standards for the treatment of youth involved in juvenile justice systems. In the 40 years since it was first enacted into law, the JJDPA has enabled significant improvements to juvenile justice, including reducing youth crime rates and supporting many states in creating fairer approaches that help youth stay connected to their communities and get back on track.
In 2001 the 23rd General Synod of the United Church of Christ affirmed advocacy for fair and appropriate treatment of youth, especially as they are involved with or at risk for involvement in the criminal justice system.
Resources on the JJDPA & the New Senate Bill
- Read the bill text
- Key changes to JJDP Reauthorization Act introduced in 113th Congress
- Major Provisions of Juvenile Justice Reauthorization Act of 2015
- Act4JJ's Resources on the JJDPA
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ's (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.
UCC Resources carries ONA and other LGBT related published by the UCC, Pilgrim Press and the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns.
Open and Affirming Study Packet - a resource for the ONA study process!
Download a copy of the UCC Resources and Publications catalog related to LGBT concerns
Building an Inclusive Church - training and toolkit resources for preparing and facilitating the ONA process
United Church of Christ Office for LGBT Ministries
Wider Church Ministries/Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer
Executive and Minister for LGBT Ministries, HIV & AIDS, and Sexuality Education
HIV & AIDS
Andy Lang, Executive Director
Rod Mundy, ONA Coordinagtor
Kathie Carpenter, ONA Listing Administrator
The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network (formerly the Parish Nurse Network)
aims to promote health ministry through parish nursing in congregations and communities,
as the visible presence and voice of parish nurses in the United Church of Christ.
Full implementation of the resolution "Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing" adopted by the 21st General Synod of the UCC (1997-Columbus).
To inform and engage UCC congregations in ministries of health and healing for the benefit of each congregation and the community it serves.
Goals of the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network
- Serve as a spiritual care resource to the leadership of the UCC by promoting and supporting activities of health, healing, and wholeness within our congregations and the communities served.
- Make available to all UCC FCNs information and opportunities for programming so that congregants learn how to become active health care consumers.
- Inform and engage congregations, associations, and conferences in facilitating individualized and distinct responses to the Resolution.
- Collaborate with the other health focused groups of the UCC National Office to create a synergic effort of information sharing for the benefit of all.
Full members: Professional registered nurses, actively licensed, that serve (or are interested in serving) as a Faith Community Nurse (paid or non-paid) who are members of UCC congregations and/or who serve congregations of the UCC.
Associate members of the Network may include may include other health care professionals, clergy, Christian educators, and others interested in congregational health ministry and supporting the practice of faith community nursing.
- Updating the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network’s Manual on Faith Community Nursing
- Developing posts on the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network’s webpage
- Supporting Faith Community Nurses seeking Commissioning as Authorized Ministers in the UCC
- Supporting Faith Community Nurses seeking Board Certification as Faith Community Nurses from the American Nurse Credentialing Center
- Serving on the working groups that developed the current and previous editions of Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standard of Practice for the American Nurses Association and Health Ministries Association
"UCC Faith Community Nurse Network: Linking and Touching Lives for Healing and Wholeness."
An Informational Manual on Faith Community Nurse Ministry Within the United Church of Christ. Revised 2015.
The development of programs of health ministry and the role of the faith community nurse continues to evolve. To provide only a list of specific resources would be limiting since it can very quickly go out of date. For that reason we have provide a combination of both general resources as well as some specifics. It is by no means meant to be an all inclusive list.
Since each of our UCC churches is an independent entity and is populated by individuals with different gifts and needs, each health ministry program has commonality, but it also is by necessity unique to that congregation. As you investigate and then develop a health ministry you may find the following sources of information and resources helpful.
- Health Ministries Association www.HMAssoc.org 800-723-4291
- American Nurse Association www.nursingworld.org 800-274-4262
The faith community nurse bridges two disciplines and as such must be prepared in and responsible to both. Educational offerings in nursing have expanded along a continuum to now range from continuing education programs with extensive contact hours to baccalaureate and graduate level nursing courses.
Some theological schools and universities offer courses or programs of study for nurses that provide education on spiritual and pastoral care. Some educational programs are offered within facilities and others are offered on-line
UCC and Other Educational Programs
- At the Conference and Area levels of the UCC there are educational opportunities. Call your Conference office to learn what is going on and what support they might have for your efforts.
- Contact a FCN from the FCN Leadership Network or someone in your area on Membership List to learn of opportunities.
- Contact the office for your State's Council of Churches to learn of any opportunities.
Professional Nursing Conferences
The Health Ministries Association Annual Conference, The Westberg Symposium, and increasingly nursing research and specialty practice conferences provide opportunities to learn from colleagues in the field.
Educational Resource Centers
Educational resources centers have developed all over the country. One of the first was the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. This center developed a curriculum that is taught in various sites. To learn where these continuing education offerings are available go to the website www.ipnrc.parishnurses.org.
*Please note that although participating in a program may provide you with a certificate, it does not grant you the status of certification/being certified. The certificate you may receive is only a certificate of attendance. The way to become Certified as a Faith Community Nurse is through the American Nurse Credentialing Center.
PUBLISHERS AND OTHER SUPPLIERS OF MATERIALS
Keeping up to date with the release of new books, videos, and manuals that support our work is an ongoing task. The following list of publishers and their current books gives you a sampling of what kind of supports are available both from diverse groups.
United Church of Christ Resources www.uccresources.com
Pilgrim Press www.thepilgrimpress.com
Abingdon Press www.abingdonpress.com
Augsburg/Fortress Press www.augsburgfortress.org
Elsevier / Mosby www.elsevier.com
Haworth Press www.haworthpressinc.com
Health Ministries Association www.HMAssoc.org
International Parish Nurse Resource Center www.ipnrc.parishnurses.org
Jones and Bartlett www.jbpub.com
Judson Press www.judsonpress.com
Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins www.lww.com
Morehouse Publishing www.morehousegroup.com
Prentice Hall www.prenhall.com/nursing
The Partnership Center – Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/staff-divisions/iea/partnerships/newsletter/index.html
Health Finder – Live Well. Learn How. http://healthfinder.gov
The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network is under the auspices of the Health Care Justice Program, Justice and Witness Ministries
Rev. Amos Acree, RN
Wendy Merriman, MA, RN
Rebecca (Becky) Anton, MSN, RN
Linda Morgan, BSN, RN
Alyson Breisch, MSN, RN-BC
Deborah Ringen, MSN, RN-BC
Courtney Holmes, APRN, ANP-BC, RN-BC
Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo, RN
Peggy Matteson, PhD, RN-BC
Lisa Thomas, RN,