As a result of many mergers, covenants, mission projects, affiliations, and neighborly activities, the United Church of Christ has incorporated many diverse groups into its history and structure. Not every group, however, that considered affiliation with the United Church of Christ (or its antecedent denominations) actually took formal action. One such group was the Schwenkfelders.
Who are the Schwenkfelders?
The Schwenkfelders are descendants of the followers of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (1489-1561), a German Reformer. They came to southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1730s. Church historians have generally ignored Schwenckfeld; his contemporary, Martin Luther, gave them good reason. Luther, in one of his letters (December 6, 1543), spoke of Schwenckfeld as "the poor simpleton" who was "possessed of the devil."  Schwenckfeld refused to retaliate and concealed Luther's stinging correspondence among private papers, commended the burly Saxon's virtues, and named him in prayer to his dying day.
Schwenckfeld's gracious conduct was partly a reflection of his home life. He was of Silesian nobility, raised in a devout Roman Catholic home, and educated for diplomatic service, which ended at age twenty-nine, when he lost his hearing. (Court secrets were not shouted.) At the same time Schwenckfeld began to read the writings coming from Wittenberg and Luther and experienced a spiritual awakening. His full attention was given to mastering Hebrew and Greek, studying the scriptures and early church writing, and for eight years, affirming many of Luther's views.
Separation came when the Silesian nobleman discussed the meaning of the Lord's Supper with Dr. Luther and tried to reconcile conflicting interpretations. Agreement was impossible. In despair Schwenckfeld declared that he could not approach the Lord's Supper as long as Christians were divided and announced he would abstain from communing until the differences were resolved. This decision, called the Stillstand, was initiated in 1526. Schwenckfeld also questioned the practice of infant baptism but shunned the Anabaptists' insistence of rebaptizing adults, as well as their literal use of the scriptures. To him, the Bible was not a "paper pope" but mere words that required God's Spirit to bring them to life.
At first, Schwenckfeld's company was solicited by the well-to-do and intellectuals, but pressure from both Roman Catholics and Protestants prompted King Ferdinand of Silesia to banish Schwenckfeld from his estate. Living in exile, he depended on friends, who circulated his writings and provided him refuge until his death on December 10, 1561.Because Schwenckfeld remained a bachelor, his followers were all "spiritual heirs" who were attracted to his reforming spirit of "The Middle Way," between literal biblicism and blind sacramentalism. During his life and after his death those who adhered to his expression of the Christian faith existed without any formal organization. Some attended the recognized churches (Roman Catholic and Lutheran), others refused; some communed, others abstained. They met in private homes for worship and study and visited churches where pastors were willing to honor Schwenckfeld's writings until the 1540s, when the ruling prince ordered strict adherence to the Augsburg Confession. Schwenkfelders who did not comply were tried, exiled, imprisoned, sent to Vienna as galley slaves, or pressed into service as soldiers against the Turks. A common preference of the 1580s was Vienna, where the Roman Catholics were judged to be less severe than the Lutherans in Silesia! Hence the Schwenkfelders' strong dislike for Lutherans!
Waves of persecution threatened the Schwenkfelders with extinction throughout the 1600s, until 1719, when a Jesuit mission initiated another approach. Representatives of the Schwenkfelders were requested to travel to Vienna to defend their Schwenkfeldian views in writing.  The defenses were futile, and by 1726 only one alternative remained: leave everything and escape. Those who did sought refuge in Saxony with Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, leader of the Moravians, but that stay was only temporary. On July 29, 1734, forty families began the journey to Pennsylvania and a new chapter in their history. 
Settlement in America
The "Saint Andrew" landed at Philadelphia on September 22, 1734. On the twenty-fourth a daylong thanksgiving service was held, beginning a practice called Gedaechtnisz Tag, which is the oldest ongoing thanksgiving observance in America. Because no land grant was large enough to provide the Schwenkfelders with a site similar to the Moravian tract at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, each family started its homestead, ranging from Chestnut Hill, near Philadelphia, into what are now Berks and Lehigh counties. The first thirty years were a time to establish farms and mills; after that, attention was given to organizing their unstructured house fellowships into a Society of Schwenkfelders, in 1782.
Families grouped into an Upper District and a Middle District. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, worship in the home began changing to meetinghouse services, with three in the Upper District (Washington, Hosensack, Kraussdale) - today's Palm Church - and three in the Middle District (Salford, Towamencin, Worcester) - today’s Central Church. In the beginning, services were held at each location on one Sunday in three, so that it was one congregation rotating to three locations.
In 1763 a catechism was prepared by Christopher Schultz. He prepared the Schwenkfelders to adapt to the totally different life in America, where those who had been their persecutors in Europe were now their neighbors and friends. In a new climate the Schwenkfelders began a new era.
Relationships with German Reformed
In southeastern Pennsylvania the Schwenkfelders naturally formed some relationships with other German colonists. By the early nineteenth century close ties had developed between Schwenkfelder pastors in the Upper District and members of the New Goshenhoppen Reformed Church (now United Church of Christ, in East Greenville, Pennsylvania). The Rev. C.Z. Weiser described this kinship in the Mercersburg Review. He wrote about similarities between Christopher Schultz’s catechism, based on Schwenckfeld’s works, and the Heidelberg Catechism of the Reformed Church in the United States; each corresponded to the other "in reference to the classification of the Ten Commandments, and embodied the essentials of the Reformed Confession, if we except (meaning: exclude) the doctrine of Infant Baptism."(4) However, an incident occurred that proved differences were greater than similarities. Weiser’s article related the sad discovery as he told about the Schwenkfelder pastor, Christopher Schultz Jr., who was invited to supply a vacant Reformed church in the early 1830s. The unbaptized, unordained pastor created a controversy among the parishioners that also disturbed his conscience. The Schwenkfelder catechism did not forbid the outward practice of baptism, confirmation, communion, and ordination; at the same time his position was to follow a church life in which these rites were excluded.
He consulted with neighboring Pastors ... who advised him to bring Ordination and the Sacraments across the waters, at the hands of their forerunners in Silesia or Saxony. "So mote it be!" — said Pastor Schultz. But alas! — the few who remained back were precisely in the same dilemma. now commenced Pastor Schultz's inward conflict. There was no way open to bring an Apostolic succession over to the Schwenkfelder Society. . . A midnight melancoly possesed his soul. he became an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum, and died under the cloud in 1841.
Weiser identified the crisis as the absence of an ordained ministry among the Schwenkfelders, for their pastors were chosen by lot from the congregation. In 1895 the crisis was addressed, as Schwenkfelders in both districts decided to practice adult baptism by sprinkling and the Lord's Supper (at first served with a common cup and later changed to communion in the pews).  The study papers and committee reports that preceded this decision are an agonizing account of working out a response for neighbors who unrelentingly asked the Schwenkfelders, "If you are Christians, why do you not baptize and commune?" To this day some Schwenkfelders claim that the decision was accommodation; others claim that it was an overdue resolution. Regardless of any evaluation of the decision, it was a dramatic example of how the New World created a climate that gave new direciton to Schwenkfeldian beliefs and practices. After 1895 and the end of the Stillstand, and 1909, when the Society of Schwenkfelders was incorporated into the Schwenkfelder Church, a loose house fellowship from sixteenth-century Silesia became a Protestant denomination. It was the smallest denomination in the world, numbering five churches—all in southeastern Pennsylvania—with a total membership of 3,000.
Relationships with the Congregationalists
In the late nineteenth century the Schwenkfelders developed an important relationship to Congregationalism around the long-standing desired to collect all the writings of their society: the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum. It began as a seearch through Europe for extant works of Schwenckfeld and concluded with the publication of nineteen volumes. In the monumental task two names familiar to Congregationalists emerged: Chester David Hartranft and Hartford Theological Seminary.
Hartranft's contact with the Schwenkfelders is like a maze, beginning with Augustus C. Thompson, an 1838 graduate of Hartford's predecessor school, the Theological Institute of Connecticut. Thompson continued his studies at the University of Berlin, where his roommate was August F.H. Schneider. Schneider became interested in the Schwenkfelders through church historian Gottfried Arnold. To help Schneider in his studies, Thompson had his brother in the United States contact the Schwenkfelders in Pennsylvania. That contact helped to initiate a thirty-five-year project in which Schneider assembled copious notes about Schwenckfeld and the Schwenkfelders.
Forty years after those student days in Germany the Schneider collection was placed on the market. Through the generosity of Newton Case, the volumes were purchased for Hartford Seminary's library. Thompson, then a trustee of the seminary, happened to recognize the handwriting of his former roommate and enthusiastically introduced the material to Prof. Chester D. Hartranft—a providential preparation. 
Hartranft's biographical sketch included such details as the following: born in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County on October 15, 1839; graduated from Philadelphia's Central High School; studied at Rambo's School in Trappe, the Hill School in Pottstown, the University of Pennsylvania; served briefly in the military; graduated from the Reformed Theological Seminary at New Brunswick; served as a (Dutch) Reformed pastor for twelve years and then accepted a professorship at Hartford Theological Seminary. The missing detail was his genealogy; he was a descendant of the 1734 Schwenkfelder immigrant, Tobias Hartranft, and a distant cousin of Pennsylvania governor Maj. Gen. John Frederick Hartranft. The Schwenkfelders were also unaware of the relationship; the professor's name was missing from the 1879 Genealogical Record. The omission was quickly corrected when a committee began looking for a prominent speaker for the one hundred fiftieth anniversary (1884) of the landing of the Schwenkfelders and realized that the Hartford college and met his future wife. But Kriebel was attracted to another part of Hartranft's life, his denomination: the Congregational Churches.
Kriebel was interested in introducing the Schwenkfelders to wider associations with other churches and denominations. Beginning in August 1922 the young people of the Congregational Christian Churches of the Middle Atlantic District (Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Maryland; Washington, DC; and Virginia) met each summer for ten days at Perkiomen School. The group worshiped in Palm Church during their two-Sunday stay, and one of their clergy preached at both services. The September 1927 issue of the Schwenkfelders' bimonthly magazine, The Schwenkfeldian, printed a full report by the Rev. Harry Myers, pastor of Philadelphia's Pilgrim Congregational Church. His assessment of the conference was that "the friendly relationship between the Schwenkfelders and the Congregationalists in the foreign field is now being carried forward in the home land in a very happy way.
Kriebel must have shared that impression and acted to turn it into a more tangible relationship. At the annual meeting of Palm Church in April 1929 he addressed the congregation on the subject of merger with the Congregational Churches. The minutes contain no details, but members who recall being there report that a motion was defeated by a hand or standing vote, with no count being noted. The reasons for the motion's defeat are a mix of interesting explanations. One reason given by a member who cast a negative vote was that the Congregational preacher at the previous summer conference insisted, while preaching, that a Schwenkfelder mother carry out her crying baby. Some "no" votes were a protest to his request. Another explanation attributes the motion's defeat to one of Kriebel's relatives, Howard W. Kriebel, who agitated for negative votes to get back at "Dr. O. S." for some unknown reason, because "they were always at each other, and this was one of those times." 
Congregationalists and Schwenkfelders can trace other, pleasant associations of the twentieth century. Some of these associations came through the pastors, such as Johnson and Kriebel, who ended the Schwenkfelder practice of being chosen by lot. From their time on the ministers were college and seminary trained, and the institutions attended included Hartford, Oberlin, and Union Seminary in New York.In the early twentieth century, when the Schwenkfelder churches changed from German to English in their worship services, the resources that were used were not translated but new ones were written. In 1928 the Schwenkfelders published a Book of Worship for Church and Home, borrowing from Congregational, Reformed, and Presbyterian material "in the spirit of Denominational Fellowship which is becoming more and more marked in these days" (the committee's comment in the preface). For their hymnal they chose the 1935 edition of the Pilgrim Hymnal, which Palm Church later updated to the 1958 edition. And in 1909, when the churches were incorporated, the polity adopted was congregational.
The question of involvement in missions was raised at the 1844 fall meeting of the Schwenkfelders. An offering of $273 was received and sent to Benjamin Schneider, a German Reformed missionary who was serving under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Brusa, Asia Minor. Why was Schneider selected to receive the offering? He had been a neighbor from Long Swamp Reformed Church; the Schwenkfelders of the Upper District knew him personally. Again, in 1865, the German Reformed Missionary Society was used as a channel for directing Schwenkfelder Harvest Home offerings to the Pennsylvania Bible Society. 
By the 1894 Fall Conference, interest in missions resulted in a committee to investigate a venture in home missions in Philadelphia. On December 24, 1895, a charter was granted, establishing the Schwenkfelder earlier.
The action of the Palm congregation was followed by the Central, Lansdale, and Norristown churches when they called UCC ministers to become their pastors.  In 1964 Jack R. Rothenberger, whose family is listed in the Genealogical Record and who was ordained a Schwenkfelder minister in 1955 after graduating from Hartford Seminary, was granted standing in the United Church of Christ, where he was already active in association and conference committees.
The early 1960s were filled with ministerial conversations about the similarities between the two denominations. With historical references as an incentive, the pastors made a bold proposal: "Why not affiliate with the United Church of Christ?" At the May 20, 1961, General Conference a motion activated "the appointment of a study committee to determine the thinking of the people on the question of the future of the Schwenkfelder Churches. And to make specific recommendations to General Conference at Spring 1962 Meeting."  The General Conference Moderator appointed a "Special Committee to Consider the Future of the Schwenkfelder Church," with each church being represented by the pastor and at least one layperson. The Committee met over the next three years and worked out a schedule: Articles appeared in The Schwenkfeldian; a traveling panel visited each church school; Rothenberger, whose 1962 master's thesis was "Caspar Schwenckfeld Von Ossig and the Ecumenical Ideal," delivered a sermon in each church; and special programs were planned for the annual thanksgiving day and General Conferences. The Committee also evaluated resources describing the Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, American Baptist, and UCC denominations, noting differences and similarities to the Schwenkfelder Churches. The overall impression was that the United Church of Christ was
very unusual; not one denomination but several joined together.... Its name implies its members are ecumenically minded. Its background is one in which Schwenkfelders have participated on a number of occasions. Its organization is not overbearing or complex,.. its constitution guarantees that others who work with it will not be absorbed or indoctrinated or restricted. 
A motion from the Committee urged delegates at the 1963 Spring General Conference to engage in study, with each church coming to its own decision. By February 24, 1964, the Committee had its responses:
Central—There appears to be a growing concern about the future of our churches. A small vociferous group seems to be against what our committee has done and is doing all in their power to discredit the committee. Seems to be a confusion on the meaning of words, such as: merger-affiliation. Apparent fear on the part of some that the committee has made final decision for all the people.
Norristown—A "Future of the Schwenkfelders" committee has been appointed.... Appears to be growing concern about the problem.
Philadelphia—The congregation is still open to ideas and has not yet made up its congregational mind about the matter.
Lansdale—There is little apparent strong opinion being voiced in either direction. Frustration was expressed over the fact that many people have made up their minds before having read The Schwenkfeldion. (This "frustration" seems to be present in each of the churches.)
Palm—No strong opinions have been heard. Affiliated for five years and many people are not aware of it. We have benefited, without paying for the benefits. Majority of people seem indifferent. A few negative voices have been raised. 
The Committee's next step was to give each church a study packet, to "allow the Holy Spirit to direct us toward the future," and to ask the May 16, 1964, Spring General Conference to vote to disband the committee. The motion was affirmed, and "t In 1870 the Rev. C. Z. Weiser, the Reformed pastor neighbor to Schwenkfelders in the Upper District, now Palm Church, remarked, "As a Society, they will not merge with any other denomination." The special committee of the early 1960s was not thinking merger but affiliation, and that thought was resisted. Perhaps the resistance was owing to the committee's failure to recognize another New World pursuit of the Schwenkfelders: an interest in self-identity. After 1734 a Schwenkfelder was not so much a spiritual heir of Reformer Caspar Schwenckfeld as a bloodline descendant of the Schwenkfelders who came to colonial Pennsylvania on the Saint Andrew. Genealogy became a primary concern, an interest that was threatened by the committee of 1961-64. Often a positive response to affiliation is the result of stressing a group's strengths, not its weaknesses, needs, and deficiencies. The committee could not communicate to the Schwenkfelder Churches that there was a compelling reason for affiliation—to share the spiritual gifts received from Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig.
When UCC members visit a Schwenkfelder church today they discover a quiet blending of the four denominations represented in the merger of 1957—a secret hidden in the history and life of Pennsylvania's Schwenkfelders.
Martha B. Kriebel is pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, UCC, Collegeville, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the UCC Historical Council.
1. For literature on the life and teachings of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig and information about the Schwenkfelders, contact the Schwenkfelder Library, One Seminary Avenue, Pennsburg, PA 18073.
2. The value of the defense was that a clear statement of Schwenkfeldian beliefs was put into print in the 1720s, and later published in English as Elmer Schultz Gerhard, ed., A Vindication of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (Norristown, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1942).
3. Other ships brought Schwenkfelder families to Philadelphia during the 1730s, but this was the largest number of immigrants.
4. C. Z. Weiser, "Caspar Schwenkfeld and the Schwenkfelders," Mercersburg Review, July 1870:362.
5. Ibid., p. 363.
6. For a detailed account of this decision, see Martha B. Kriebel, Schwenkfelders and the Sacraments (Pennsburg, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1968).
7. This incident is reported by W. Kyrel Meschter in the draft of a book to be published by The Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church in 1984, p. 32.
8. Ibid., p. 36.
9. Quoted from a conversation that Elva S. Schultz had during the 1960s with the pastor of Palm Schwenkfelder Church, the Rev. Martha B. Kriebel.
10. Selina G. Schultz, "Schwenckfelder Interest in Missions," The Schwenckfeldian 1, no. 6[September 1947): 7-9.
11. Samuel K. Brecht, "Supplementary History—The First Schwenkfelder Church of Philadelphia," The Genealogical Record of the Schwenkfelder Families (Pennsburg, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1923).
12. Selina Schultz, op. cit., p. 11.
13. The UCC pastors who were called were as follows: Central: William B. Bradshaw, Eric T. Braund; Norristown: Ronald Lockhart, David R. Crowle, Herbert H. Dewees; Lansdale: William E. Cameron, Larry 0. Bechol, Andrew H. Johanson, Arlan M. Bond.
14. At the May 19, 1962, General Conference the Committee reported meeting twice, but "we are not prepared at this time to make specific recommendations to General Conference."
15. Quoted from "Which Way?" a pamphlet prepared by Martha B. Kriebel for the special committee.
16. Minutes, Special Committee, February 24, 1964.
17. Weiser, op. cit., p. 370.
Written by The Rt. Rev. John Butosi
A Conference in the United Church of Christ is determined by its geographical boundaries—almost. The exception is the acting conference that is not even named a conference: the Calvin Synod. It is made up of Hungarian churches from Connecticut to Illinois, with most concentrated in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. These churches were originally part of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Later they joined the Reformed Church in the United States, and when the merged Evangelical and Reformed Church united with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ, these Hungarian churches became part of the Calvin Synod. The history of these churches in American life is unique.
Hungarian emigration patterns
The Reformed Church in Hungary had a glorious past. The Protestant Reformation swept the country rapidly and early. By the end of the sixteenth century, Hungary was 90 percent Protestant, mainly Calvinist in theology and forms of worship. The Counter-Reformation, led by Jesuits and enforced by the Habsburg monarchy and the Hungarian nobility, recovered control for the Roman Catholic Church. More than four hundred Protestant pastors and teachers were imprisoned and tortured until they recanted. Only forty-one refused. These were marched to the Adriatic Sea and sold as galley slaves. From this life of horror they were finally ransomed through the intervention of Holland and Switzerland and given political asylum in those countries. The heroic witness of these pastors and teachers is commemorated in the "Hymn of the Hungarian Galley Slaves," found in all four hymnals currently in use in UCC congregations under the title "Lift Thy Head, O Zion, Weeping." 
Political and religious repression continued for almost two hundred years more, until World War I, when Hungary was finally separated from the Hapsburg monarchy. Out of this historic struggle for religious freedom in Hungary the Hungarian Reformed faith came to the United States. Political, social, and religious struggles continued into the twentieth century.
There were five waves of Hungarian emigration to America:
1. The first wave started after the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution, in 1849. In terms of numbers, this emigration was insignificant. 
2. The second wave was different. Immediately after the abolition of serfdom, before the depression of the 1870s, the rural-agrarian, landless proletariat found easy employment in Hungary. However, after 1870 the number of emigrants rose quickly. From 1850 to 1920 it is estimated that between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 people left Hungary. Many came to the United States. 
3. After World War I, Hungary tightened its emigration policy. As the state was consolidated, without minorities of significant size, the goal was to increase the population, and therefore the number of taxpayers, and to augment the state?s military force. From this viewpoint, emigration was a loss, and every emigrant was regarded as a traitor to the fatherland.
Also of significance is the fact that after World War I the United States shut the open door before the immigrants. A quota of only 473 was allotted to Hungary in the first quota law, and 865 on the basis of national origin. As a result of these rigid laws, both in Hungary and in the United States, the upper class and the Jews were represented above their proportion after World War I among the Hungarian immigrants to the United States. Imre de Josika-Herczeg calls this third wave of emigration ?one of artists and professional people.? 
4. During and after World War II (1941-50) more than one million people were forced, in one way or another, to leave Hungary.  Not counting those who perished in concentration or forced labor camps, or who returned to Hungary, or who renounced their Hungarian ethnic affiliation, the total of Hungarian Displaced Persons could not be estimated as more than 120,000 persons. The United States received a fair share of those who constituted a new type of Hungarian immigrant. These people, in contrast to other immigrants, did not leave the old country of their own free will; they had not intended to emigrate. They were ?forced emigrants,? ?refugees in spite of themselves,? who were put on the move mostly by political forces. As a group, they were less homogeneous than the previous waves. They came from all walks of life, and many nationalities, creeds, political confessions, and social classes were represented among them.
5. After the revolt of 1956 the most recent wave of Hungarian emigration left the country and was dispersed all over the world. Their number is estimated at 193,973 persons, of whom 35,705 arrived in the United States before September 30, 1957. 
Thus the five waves of Hungarian emigration, which reached U.S. shores after the abolition of serfdom in Hungary (1848), were (a) the so-called Kossuth emigration, which was politically motivated (1850?75); (b) the emigration of peasants for economic and social reasons (1876?1920); (c) the emigration of Jews and professionals between the two wars (1921?41); (d) the immigration of the so-called Displaced Persons during and after World War II (1941?50); and (e) the refugees of the 1956 revolt.
Reformed church life in America
About one fourth of the population of Hungary and about one fourth of the Hungarian immigrants to the United States were adherents of the Reformed faith. Early attempts to organize Reformed churches, however, were unsuccessful.
The first Hungarian Reformed Church service in the United States was conducted on April 13, 1852, by Gedeon Acs, chaplain to Louis Kossuth, hero of Hungary?s War of Independence against Austria in 1848. When Kossuth was brought to the United States on a U.S. warship and addressed both Houses of Congress, he was welcomed as a great freedom fighter. Enthusiastic women, organized by Mary Day of New York City, provided enough money to pay for this early "international" ministry, but with Kossuth?s departure Acs was forced to discontinue his work, and in 1860 he himself returned to Hungary. 
In 1881 Francis Kecskemethy, with the aid of the New York Presbytery (Presbyterian Church in the United States of America), started Hungarian Reformed services in New York City, but his work gradually diminished to such an extent that he too returned to Hungary. Nevertheless, Kecskemethy?s undertaking showed that the Presbyterian Church in the USA was the first denomination in the New World to aid church work among Hungarian Reformed people. 
After such sporadic and futile beginnings, church life started among Hungarians only when the agrarian proletariat and small landholders reached U.S. shores in great numbers. At first, these immigrants met for worship in each others? homes, but when baptisms, weddings, or funeral services were needed, they had to turn to various American clergy, because there were no Hungarian pastors among them. Consequently, certain American ministers began to take special interest in these people, especially those ministers who spoke German. Many Hungarians also spoke German and thus communications could be established. Historians emphasize the fact that ?the earliest organization of Hungarian immigrants were the fraternal societies formed for mutual help, protection in case of death, injury or unemployment."  To organize such a society was an exciting undertaking for these people: It bound them together by voluntary decisions, provided them "decent Christian burial," and even met some of their religious needs, such as hymn singing and prayer. But one thing the society could not give—the sacrament of Holy Communion. For these Hungarians, taking communion at the six established occasions of the year was crucial. They had to go to the "sanctuary" or, if they had none, to the ones they considered "Reformed."
German Reformed relationships
On several occasions a group of Hungarian Reformed people visited a German Reformed church to take communion. In February 1890, at the Seventh (German) Reformed Church of Cleveland, Ohio, where the Rev. J.H.C. R?ntgen was the pastor, a group of Hungarian immigrants arrived, saying, "Wir sind Ungarn und wolle zum Abendemahl geh?n. Wir, reformiert."  ("We are Hungarians, and we want Holy Communion. We are Reformed.") About the same time in historic Grace Reformed Church, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Dr. John H. Prough was the pastor, the same thing happened. These pastors reported their experiences to their classes. [The "classis" is a regional jurisdiction in some U.S. Reformed churches. The plural is "classes."]
Because the Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States was also aware of the problem, when the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States met in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in the late spring of 1890, three separate recommendations of the Westmoreland Classis, the Pittsburgh Synod, and the Board of Home Missions asked the General Synod "to take action toward supplying the Hungarians and Germans ... with the Gospel." 
Correspondence with Hungarian church authorities started immediately, and in the same year the Rev. Gustav Juranyi was secured as the first missionary to the Hungarian immigrants in the United States. On January 1, 1891, he was commissioned by the Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States to organize the first Hungarian Reformed congregation in America. Soon a second missionary was secured in the person of the Rev. John Kovacs, who was commissioned on July 1, 1891, for Pittsburgh, where the first church building was erected, dedicating it on October 23, 1892.
In two years Kovacs organized seventeen congregations, with a total of 1,500 members, and a third missionary had to be called to be his assistant..  Thus in 1896 there were six centers of missionary activities: Cleveland, with the Rev. Alexander Harsanyi; Pittsburgh, with the Rev. F. Ferenczy; South Norwalk, Connecticut, with the Rev. Gabriel Dokus; Trenton, New Jersey, with the Rev. Gustav Juranyi; New York City, with the Rev. B. Demeter; and Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, with the Rev. Alexander Kalassay. 
The Hungarian immigrants were glad to organize churches not only because they needed spiritual nourishment, but also because the church provided for them a ?little Hungary,? where they experienced a sense of security. Some of these churches in fact were organized explicitly on a social basis as church societies, including Jews and Roman Catholics as well as Calvinists and Lutherans. At Trenton, for example, the Sick Benefit Society pledged one half of its income to the support of the church, and in New York a Jew was elected to the first consistory. 
At first, these congregations had no legal status as a church group affiliated with either the Reformed Church in Hungary or the Reformed Church in the United States. But in 1896 initial steps were made to organize a Hungarian classis. The group did not want to break relations with either church. The church in Hungary was still their home church and the Reformed Church in the United States was their generous supporter. Caught between two loyalties, more than a decade of negotiations was necessary until a Hungarian classis was officially approved by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States(1905). 
Meanwhile, a new struggle flared up because of Presbyterian work among the Hungarian Reformed people. Until June 1899 work among the Hungarians was under the sole jurisdiction of the Reformed Church in the United States. But around this time the Rev. Julius Hamborsky, who served a Slav church under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, organized a Hungarian Reformed Church at Kingston, Pennsylvania, also under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterians.  Thus the unity of the Hungarian work was broken, and when Dr. Geza Kaczian, as the traveling missionary of the Presbyterian Church among the Hungarians, established Hungarian Presbyterian churches at Youngstown, Ohio (1902), and New Brunswick, New Jersey (1903), open hostility began between the two groups. 
Pressures from home
During the first fifteen years of emigration from Hungary, church and government paid little attention. The consensus on this subject was that the departure of non-Hungarian-speaking minorities from Austria-Hungary only strengthened the position of the ethnic Hungarians in historic Hungary; they did not mind the emigration as long as it was the emigration of only non-Magyars.  But by 1903 it became clear that the government?s liberal emigration policy had backfired; many Hungarian-speaking Magyars had also left the country. After this discovery the Hungarian government?s new policy was to halt emigration, and the Reformed Church in Hungary joined the government in this effort. Pastors were encouraged to use the pulpit and, if necessary, the local and state authorities to block the exodus of these "selfish, unpatriotic, reckless, and irresponsible people." Appeals to Hungarian patriotism were used to stop emigration and to encourage repatriation. Also, at this time the Hungarian pastors of the Reformed Church in the United States sent their memorandum to the home church in Hungary, asking for help to end the "Presbyterian schism." This matter was considered of such great importance that the second-highest-ranking lay dignitary of the church, Count Jozsef Degenfeld—brother-in-law of the most influential Hungarian politician, Count Istvan Tisza—was sent to the United States in response. Undoubtedly, Count Degenfeld came to the United States not only to heal the wounds and end the schism but also to implement the new appeal to Hungarian patriotism among Hungarian Reformed people in the United States.
Degenfeld traveled to every Hungarian Reformed church with an invitation and proposal that an "American Classis" tied to the home church be organized as a way to solve the problems among U.S. Hungarian Reformed churches. The General Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary would pay the pastors? salaries. Lucrative offers were made to the pastors as well as to the congregations: teachers; free education of the pastors? children in Hungary; new positions in America; and better churches in Hungary, to which the people could return. 
Instead of a solution, however, the American Classis of the Reformed Church of Hungary, organized on October 7, 1904, simply created a third group in the Hungarian Reformed community—those who supported the Classis.
The expressed hope was that the original six congregations of this classis would sooner or later be joined by all the other churches. But this hope was never realized, although the new classis grew rapidly. By 1910 there were twenty-three congregations organized in two sections, namely the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis.
Reformed Church reactions
Of course, the first reaction to the establishment of an American Hungarian classis was a shock in the Reformed Church in the United States. Dr. Charles Schaeffer called it a "gross wrong done," "a foreign church on American soil," and declared:
Many Hungarians do not want a Hungarian church in this country, but they want to be part of the Reformed Church in the U.S. ... All honor to the ministers and congregations whom the glitter of gold cannot bribe and who ... did not ... dishonor their vows and obligations to the church into which they have been incorporated. 
He just could not understand.
Many Hungarian people had good reasons for joining the new classis. The German churches seemed unable to respond to their needs. One man in Trenton put it this way:
The Mission Board was unable to give us a really qualified minister, but it did recommend two individuals.., who have never completed theological studies.... Our church received all communications and official letters from the Classis in German, a language none of us understands. At the meetings of the Classis only German is used and it has no sense for us to participate. 
In 1905 the Reformed Church in the United States finally and too late organized the "Hungarian Classis," and David A. Souders became the Superintendent of the Board of Home Missions, "devoting almost all his time to the development of the Hungarian work."  Through the new Hungarian Classis new attempts were made to mend the breach. In the fall of 1908 Dr. James Good and Dean Joseph Tomcsanyi were authorized by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States to present new plans to the Foreign Affairs Board of the General Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary. The plan was completed. It suggested that the Reformed Church in the United States and the Reformed Church in Hungary should do the American work together. The presidium of the General Conventus rejected the plan, stating that "leadership in the work of the American Hungarian Reformed people belongs solely to the home church,"  Although the war between the opposing parties raged in the courts, through the newspapers, and from the pulpit, the Reformed Church in the United States exercised restraint, sobriety, and hopefulness.  It kept the doors open.
The Tiffin Agreement
World War I created crisis and ushered a new period into the life of the Hungarian Reformed churches in America. Loyalty to the old country was still evident in the sacrificial purchase of Hungarian war bonds and in the generous support of funds gathered for the aid of Hungarian war widows and orphans.  Because both immigration and repatriation had stopped, Hungarians in the United States were forced to decide to stay permanently. Salary supplements for the pastors still arrived from Hungary through the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC for 1917 and 1918, but at the same time Hungarian Reformed clergy were accused of being political agents and spies of the central powers.  These and other factors were used by many to urge separation from the home church in Hungary. Some favored an autonomous and self-supporting U.S. church, whereas others suggested affiliation with some U.S. denomination.
Thus negotiations were opened with the Reformed Church in the United States to assimilate the American classes of the Reformed Church of Hungary. On October 7, 1921, the Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary reached an agreement with the representatives of the Reformed Church in the United States at Tiffin, Ohio. Through this contract—the Tiffin Agreement—the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis of the Hungarian Reformed Church in America were received into organic legal and ecclesiastical relation with the Eastern Synod and the Pittsburgh Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States, as Classes. Both Classes were assured of the rights, privileges, and sanctions of the Reformed Church in the United States, whose protective powers were offered to safeguard and foster their growth and future development. All property, whether real or personal, remained in the possession of the congregations. The Reformed Church in the United States assumed responsibility for the payment of $52,000 to the Classes as salaries in arrears. The congregations, which became part and parcel of the Reformed Church in the United States, declared to be no more a part of another national church. Therefore, it was expected that nothing would hinder or prevent them from assimilating through historical process with the Reformed Church in the United States. The use of the Magyar language was permitted in public worship, Sunday schools, and vacation Bible schools. A recommendation was made that pastors and elders of the Hungarian Reformed congregations meet in annual conferences to consider the needs of their congregations and to make suggestions to the Board of Home Missions and to their respective Synods.  Through this "excellent transaction" twenty-eight Hungarian Reformed congregations with more than a million dollars' worth of church property joined the Reformed Church in the United States. 
Free Magyar Reformed Church in America
The Tiffin Agreement was by no means a magnet to draw all Hungarian Reformed churches in the United States together. Even if one understands the Americanization pressure of the postwar era, many American Hungarian persons could not swallow it. Laypeople especially, in opposition to their pastors, found that their dignity and right for self-determination was greatly distorted by the Tiffin Agreement.
Objections were made from three viewpoints: (a] On a religious basis, many people argued that Hungarian Reformed congregations could grow into a self-supporting, independent, explicitly Hungarian Reformed church body. (b) Others pointed to the deep nationalistic desire to preserve Magyar culture. (c) Still others noted how economic interests led toward an independent church.
As a result of these concerns a "free movement" gained momentum under the leadership of the Rev. Endre Sebestyan, pastor of the church in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, who was instrumental in organizing the Free Magyar Reformed Church in America on August 13, 1923, in Trenton. The new Hungarian Reformed denomination had its first Constitutional assembly on December 9, 1924 in Duquesne, with six churches answering the roll.
Four more churches soon joined this group (Leechburg, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; Cliff Side, New York; and Youngstown, Ohio), so that in 1928 they organized themselves into a diocese with two classes, the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis. In doctrine and government the new church claimed to follow the Reformed Church in Hungary. Accordingly, the Classes were supervised by deans and the Diocese by an arch-dean, who was the Duquesne pastor. In 1958 the word free, or independent, was omitted from the name of the denomination and the name Arch-Dean was changed to Bishop.  The aim of this group too was "to unite all the Reformed Hungarians who were able to support themselves into one separate denomination."  In reality the movement was dividing rather than uniting the existing congregations, because it capitalized on the nationalistic feeling of the first-generation Hungarian immigrants. Recently, the denomination was admitted into the membership of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches as the Hungarian Reformed Church in America.
Implementing the Tiffin Agreement
The implementation of the Tiffin Agreement started with honesty and sincerity on both sides. Even before the respective synods legally ratified the agreement in 1923, three classes were formed for effective administration and growth. By accepting the terms of the Tiffin Agreement, the Hungarian Reformed people in these classes felt that they were the obedient children of the home church, whereas those who failed to join the Reformed Church in the United States were like spoiled children of the biblical parable. 
At first those who did not accept the Agreement resented the differences between the Reformed Church in Hungary and the Reformed Church in the United States, but soon they conscientiously confessed "from Hungarian and religious viewpoints, the new relation brought no harmful change in our churches; rather it improved the situation by adapting the life of our congregations to the post-war American conditions." In addition, they admitted that the Reformed Church in the United States provided a more democratic system of church government to its Hungarian churches without demanding any sacrifice from a Hungarian or a religious viewpoint. The classes were even granted rights ?which are exercised only by the synods in Hungary, such as examining and ordaining theological students.? 
As the years went by, however, the Board of Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States became increasingly dissatisfied. In 1929 the Board reported:
There are just about one-hundred Protestant Churches among them, seventy of which belong to the Reformed Church. All of these, with the exception of six, are enrolled as Missions under the Board and every one of the six so-called self-supporting churches, with the exception of the First Church, Cleveland, Ohio, likewise receive aid from the Board for pastor?s assistants, teachers or Deaconesses.... The Hungarian congregations have not yet become fully acquainted with our methods of securing benevolent moneys and consequently they contribute comparatively small amounts on the apportionments, which serves to pull down the average giving in the Classes and makes them recipients of a proportionately large share of our Home Mission appropriations. 
The Board was beginning to admit the failure of the Tiffin Agreement. It failed because it did not pay. It cost too much, and the Hungarians were progressing at the expense of Americanization expectations.
The economic depression of the country only aggravated the situation. Subsidy to special Hungarian projects had to be curtailed. In the 1920s the Board employed one Hungarian pastor as a full-time editor of the Reformatusok Lapja, the magazine for the Hungarian constituency. His salary and the printing and administration of this weekly were paid by the Board as one of the "benefits and advantages of the union with a large and influential American denomination."  "Under the depression we had to stop this subsidy as well as the financial assistance of other projects among our Hungarian brethren." The Board had to reduce its subsidy to Hungarian Mission churches too, and thus many of these churches became self-supporting whether they wanted to or not.
As a consequence of these developments, by 1935 a new tendency could be detected among the Hungarian churches of the Reformed Church in the United States. The president of Lakeside Classis was quoted as saying, "The Hungarian Reformed tradition should become the backbone of the spiritual life of our churches. More attention should be paid to this genuine Hungarian Reformed heritage in the life of our Classes."  TheReformatusok Lapja openly argued in 1936 that the summer schools and Sunday schools should emphasize the "Hungarian Reformed confessional heritage."  "We need desperately more courage to apply our Hungarian Reformed principles in our American congregations."  By 1938 opinions were expressed by groups in the various classes that the existential problems in their churches were identical.
We do not have Hungarian language tracts, no adequate Hungarian Reformed material for our Christian Education program. No good Hungarian Reformed Catechism books are available. There is no uniform Hungarian Reformed hymnal. . . We are too weak to face these problems as two separate groups. We need unity. 
This was the time of transition from Hungarian into bilingual church life. Although distinction could be made in the formal process between the Free, Presbyterian, and Reformed Church in the United States churches,  the fact remained that the language transition came about the same time for all three major groups, and they wanted to face this "natural process of Americanization" together. Differences existed between the Presbyterian and the Reformed groups.
In the Hungarian Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. the goal was set at a complete assimilation within one generation.... In the Reformed Church in the U.S., the Hungarian Classes had certain autonomy to preserve Hungarian traditions.... The Tiffin Agreement guaranteed their rights as Hungarian speaking churches.... The Hungarian congregations in the Reformed Church in the U.S. were encouraged to preserve their own unique Hungarian Reformed tradition by no-one else as Dr. Charles Schaeffer who was such an ardent supporter of the Americanization by evangelization in the past. In 1937, Dr. Schaeffer urged the conforming pastors to preserve their Hungarian Reformed denominational heritage in their second generation as well as in the first.... He expressed the hope that it was for the sake of American Protestantism that he asked Hungarian Reformed pastors to keep their unique traditions. 
This was the background and reason why the Hungarian classes of the Reformed Church in the United States requested a nongeographical synod when the Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Synod of North America merged in 1934. At the General Synod of Fort Wayne, Indiana, held in June 1936, President George W. Richards declared that the Tiffin Agreement continued to be in force, and thus the General Synod in Columbus, Ohio, June 20-29, 1938, granted the request of the Hungarian classes to establish a nongeographical synod for the Hungarian congregations with the rights of the Tiffin Agreement. Thus on March 14, 1939, the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was organized in Cleveland, in the same church that witnessed the organization of the First Hungarian Reformed congregation fifty years earlier. 
Questions of reunion and union
The years from 1939 to 1957, with the formation of the United Church of Christ, were filled with change. The use of the English language made great strides in this period. In 1940 thirteen churches conducted services in English and in 1950 almost all did. The youth work was changed from ?learning Hungarian in summer school? to meeting the needs of the youth in the language they understood.  Great plans were made to change catechetical teaching from ?learning the questions? to an all-inclusive and meaningful Christian education for all,  but these plans never materialized. Hungarian departments were established at Elmhurst College, in Elmhurst, Illinois (1942-46); Franklin and Marshall, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had had a Hungarian professor in the person of Dr. William Toth since 1946; even Lancaster Theological Seminary considered resuming Hungarian instruction. Church discipline was exercised in several cases, but disciplined church life could not be established. All the ministers were enrolled in the Pension Fund Plan, with one exception.
The yearning for a unified Hungarian Reformed community continued to influence the Magyar Synod. In 1941 Hungarian representatives from Europe again tried to bring the three major factions into one church body. The outbreak of World War II ended that attempt. As the Evangelical and Reformed Church engaged in negotiations with the Congregational Christian Churches in the early 1940s, however, plans were formulated to unite the Free Magyar Reformed Church and the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church in the proposed United Church of Christ. The proposal was fully endorsed by the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, but it never came to a vote in the Free Magyar Reformed Church in America. At the same time the Magyar Synod registered its resistance to some of the sacrifices that seemed to be called for in the proposed United Church of Christ.
Ten years later, as the reality of the new denomination loomed on the horizon, efforts were made to guarantee the future of a Hungarian conference in the new church. When no promises could be made the Magyar Synod voted against the proposed Constitution of the United Church of Christ and began talking seriously with the Presbyterians and others inspired by the so-called Blake-Pike proposal on church union. Here was yet another plan to unite all Hungarian Reformed factions into a United Hungarian Reformed Church in America.
The United Church of Christ Constitution was ratified without the guarantees sought by the Magyar Synod. The larger union of Hungarian churches did not materialize and life went on. Under the name of the Calvin Synod, as an acting conference, the Hungarian churches continued as an exception to the geographically defined conferences in the rest of the United Church of Christ. They argued then, and continue to argue, that the Basis of Union gave them the right to "unite in the United Church of Christ without break in their respective historic continuities and traditions." 
We honestly endeavor to be a color in the rainbow in the United Church of Christ within the framework of Magyar Synod rather than an unwilling material in an ecclesiastical melting pot without Magyar Synod. This is our ecumenical vision. 
Out of this ecumenical vision the Calvin Synod continues to live.
The Rt. Rev. John Butosi was Bishop of the Calvin Synod—Acting Conference of the United Church of Christ.
1. The four hymnals are The Hymnal, The Pilgrim Hymnal, The Hymnal of the United Church of Christ and The New Century Hymnal.
2. Imre de Josika-Herczeg, Hungary After a Thousand Years (New York: American Hungarian Daily, Inc., 1934), p. 293. Cf. Denes A. Janossy, The Kossuth Emigration in America [Budapest, 1940).
3. John Kosa, ?A Century of Hungarian Emigration, 1859-1950? in The American Slavic and East European Review, vol. 16 (1957), p. 505. Kosa admits, however, that it is almost impossible to reach the exact figure statistically for the following three reasons: (a) These figures do not include the returnees whose number is estimated between 15 and 33 percent of the gross emigration; (b) in these figures all those nationalities are included that inhabited the polyethnic state of Hungary: Jewish, German, Slovak, and Croat (actually the rate of Magyars in the emigrant mass was less than their rate in the total population; as late as the 1900s the Magyars made up only 33 to 40 percent of the emigrants); (c) illegal emigration is not included. Although illegal emigration was criminally prosecuted after 1881, it was a wide and common practice with the help of the secret agents. American business concerns gave up the labor contract practice only in 1910.
4. Josika-Herczeg, op. cit., pp. 297?98.
5. Kosa, op. cit., p. 512.
6. Alexander Daroczy, ed., Bethlen Almanac (Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, 1958), pp. 252?53.
7. A.M. Leffler, ?Louis Kossuth and the American Churches,? Lutheran Quarterly 6 (November 1954):27?28.
8. Louis A. Kalassay, ?The Educational and Religious History of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the United States? (Ph.D. diss. University of Pittsburgh, 1939), 19.
9. Aladar Komjathy, ?The Hungarian Reformed Church in America; An Effort to Preserve a Denominational Heritage? (Th.D. diss., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1962), 5.
10. Ibid., 10.
11. Kalassay, op. cit., p. 22.
12. Charles E. Schaeffer, Glimpses into Hungarian Life (Philadelphia: Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States, 1923), p. 16.
13. Kalassay, op. cit., pp. 28ff.
14. Ibid., p. 46.
15. Ibid., p. 63.
16. The Rev. F. von Krug, pastor of the Kingston Presbyterian Church, claimed that as far back as 1897 he gathered Hungarians into his church. (A. George, ?Magyar Congregations in the Presbyterian Church,? Reformatusok Lapja, 59, no. 13(July 1, 1959):14.
17. Kalassay, op. cit., pp. 65-68.
18. Julianna Puskas, From Hungary to the United States (1880-1914) (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1982), pp. 193-95.
19. Komjathy, op. cit., p. 75.
20. Acts and Proceedings, General Synod, Reformed Church in the United States, 1905, pp. 73, 56-57.
21. Komiathy, op. cit., p. 99.
22. Barna Dienes, 50 Ev (Pittsburgh, PA: Expert Printing Company. 1940), p. 11.
24: Geza Takaro et. al. Emlekk?ny az Amerikai Magyar Reformatus Egyhazmegye 25 eves evfordulojara (New York, 1929), p. 23.
25. Ibid., p. 26.
26. Ibid., p. 30.
27. Reformatusok Lapja 9 (March 23, 1918): 6-7.
28. The complete text of the Tiffin Agreement is included in Kalassay, op. cit.
29. According to Schaeffer, op. cit., pp. 19-20, in 1923 the Reformed Church in the United States had fifty-two Hungarian churches with 30,000 members, the largest single body of Hungarian Reformed people in America.
30. Komjathy, op. cit., pp. 190ff.
31. Alexander Daroczy, Bethlen Almanac (Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, 1959), p. 235.
32. Kalassay, op. cit., p. 79.
33. Takaro, op. cit., pp. 33-34; Matt. 11:17.
34. Ibid., p. 34.
35. Acts and Proceedings, General Synod, Reformed Church in the United States, 1929.
36. Quotation from Tiffin Agreement.
37. Koinjathy, op. cit., p. 288.
38. Reformatusok Lapja, July 10, 1936, p. 4.
39. Ibid., December 14, 1935, p. 2.
40. Ibid., April 15, 1938, p. 7
41. Komiathy, op. cit., pp. 290-91, notes that the Free churches decided to introduce English-language services, while in the Presbyterian churches, denominational executives stressed the same, and congregations in the Reformed Church in the United States were encouraged to use English as well as Hungarian.
42. Ibid., pp. 191-92.
43. Credit is due the Rev. Barna Dienes, Dr. George W. Richards, and Dr. Charles E. Shaeffer in disarming opposition that recommended the tabling of the issue at Columbus, Ohio, General Synod.
44. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1949, p. 47.
45. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1941, pp. 62-70.
46. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1961, p. 65.
47. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1960, p. 52.
Written by Barbara Brown Zikmund and Sally A. Dries
Feminist historians have noted that the ways in which events and trends are grouped in popular history relies on male experience and often fails to reflect the impact that the same events have on women's development. Hence in American history, materials are grouped into the pre-Revolutionary War period, and antebellum period (before the Civil War), and the post-World War II period. History becomes a series of periods between wars. And wars are nothing but disruptive and destructive interludes between those periods.
Recent research, however, is pointing out the importance of war in the history of women. It now appears that wars are periods of significant advances for women. During wars the regular patterns of family and social life are disrupted. Men go off to battle and women are left to take on many new responsibilities. Instead of being periods of decline and interruption, for women, wartime provides advancement and opportunity. It is no accident, therefore, that the organizational foundations for many of the women's boards ~nd societies in American church life were laid during the years surrounding the Civil War.
One woman noted that the Civil War "had much to do with breaking up the crust of public opinion" against independent organizations for women.
In the country's hour of desperate need it had welcomed women into the camp hospital. They had gone to the front in some cases with their husbands, and lived intents, serving the wounded, or later been with their husbands at the front during the reconstruction period. They had prepared bandages at home and stepped out from the routine of homemaking to wider interests and experiences. So now, when the war was over they were ready to go on to new and vaster fields of opportunity. 
But it was not easy. Patterns of female subordination and auxiliary organizations pervaded the first half of the nineteenth century. Such women as Catherine Beecher had argued eloquently that heaven appointed women to a "subordinate station." Woman's mode of gaining influence in the world was not any less important, but her "exercising of power should be altogether different and peculiar. . . . Woman is to win every thing by peace and love; by making herself so much respected and loved, that to yield to her opinions and to gratify her wishes, will be the free-will offering of the heart." And it was all to be accomplished in the domestic and social circle.
This attitude had been deeply internalized by many churchwomen. So much so that historians can document a "feminization" of the churches during the first half of the nineteenth century. Women, who made up the bulk of the laity in the churches, cultivated an interpretation of Christ that emphasized meekness, love, humility, and forgiveness. The prestige of the clergy declined, and popular religion focused on activities that were a natural extension of the role of wife and mother 
Women who wanted to organize independent clubs, boards, or societies, especially in the churches, were not encouraged. Many years later an active churchwoman remembered:
It is difficult in these days to realize how much opposition existed toward any such independent organization of women. Probably it would have been impossible because of this general attitude of mind to have undertaken any common effort earlier than this . It was not supposed that women were capable of doing such work outside the home. The idea of their conducting a business, keeping books, or carrying on the work of a large organization was unheard of. 
Many mid-nineteenth-century Christians found it difficult to overcome their conviction that it was improper for a woman to offer prayer in public or to stand on a platform and preside over a meeting where men were present. After the Civil War, however, these attitudes began to change.
By the end of the century, women in most of the denominations that eventually came together to form the United Church of Christ had organized significant i ndependent women's boards and societies which were totally managed and supported by women. How did this come about?
Early Missionary Organizations
In 1800 Mary Webb became personally concerned about the mission outreach of American Christians. She gathered together some Congregational and Baptist women to found the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes. Soon thereafter women in many places formed what were known as "female cent societies" to raise money for mission. The idea was that any woman could save one cent a week if she denied herself some little thing. Building on the parable of the widow's mite, churchwomen believed that their small contributions could make a big difference. And from this beginning a pattern of "auxiliary mission societies" was established.
When four young college students responded to the rising global consciousness of American churches to found the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), in 1810, the women cooperated. The American Board, as it came to be called, was the major ecumenical missionary society of mainline Protestantism until the mid-nineteenth century. It channeled the monies of the "female societies" and received sizable bequests and legacies from committed Christian women. By 1839 the Board's annual report showed that approximately 680 local "ladies' associations" were at work collecting funds for foreign missions. 
In the early days the American Board thought that single women should not be sent out as missionaries. Only if a woman was married could she be commissioned as a full-fledged missionary. In time this pattern changed. Letters from the missionaries' wives raised the awareness of the Board about "the degradation and deprivations of native women and girls in non-Christian cultures." Public opinion came to realize that only single women, free from the obligations of home and family, could respond to the need. The entire mission enterprise was at stake, because women were a "great hindrance to the conversion of men." 
An ABCFM missionary from China, the Rev. David Abeel, was eventually convinced that the slow progress of mission work in China was largely owing to the lack of work among women. Abeel argued that "more than half of the women of the world were held in Oriental seclusion. They were unwelcomed at birth, married in childhood to men they had never seen, and shut away from all possible teaching except that of their husbands or of other women." He obtained permission to come home. After stopping in London, where his appeal helped to organize the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East, he made his plea for women's work among American women. The results were limited, but the record shows that the First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, founded a local women's missionary society in 1838. Almost thirty years later, in 1861, females of six denominations organized the Women's Union Missionary Society in New York. 
Not until after the Civil War did the argument for women's work and the organizational climate for independent women's societies and boards in many denominations lead to the formation of separate mission boards for women. From that time on women's work in American churches had new vitality and life.
Independent Congregational Woman's Boards
In 1868 a Mrs. Bowker, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, developed a plan to encourage women in the missionary endeavor. She called a meeting of women to hear statements by returned missionaries regarding the "degradation and wretchedness of heathen women." Under her guidance two committees were formed to write a constitution and to consult with representatives of the American Board. The Board believed that a woman's society could "co-operate with theirs, availing itself of their long experience, and avoiding at the same time the perplexing details incident to an independent organization." On the surface it sounded like another auxiliary, but the result came to involve women quite differently in the mission enterprise.
Early reports of the Woman's Board of Missions (WBM) emphasized the indirect power of Christian women.
Under Paganism, woman is a cipher. Hence the labor of Christian women, both in schools and visitations, assumes in the minds of heathen men a humble character. It neither stirs pride nor gives occasion for alarm; and the benevolence that prompts it disarms opposition. Our work is among the women; to teach them that they are of importance and interest to Jesus, if not recognized by their own households - that they have souls, and that there is a Saviour and a heaven for them. This wonderful news, once received and believed, spreads with lightning-like rapidity from one to another, arousing an eager desire for knowledge. Christ, accepted, brings a gentle refinement that unconsciously ennobles the recipient; and the men, too, are blest, before they have thought to recognize the cause.
Within a year of the founding of the WBM in Boston a similar organization took root in the Middle West. Late in 1868 the secretary of the ABCFM spoke to a group of Chicago women and shared his enthusiasm for woman's boards. "The question may be asked," he said, "Why not act directly through the American Board?" The reply was that women could be brought into more immediate, closer personal relations to the work by taking on themselves a part and by entering into correspondence with the missionary women in the field. "Ladies will write to each other as they will not write to me, do the best I can to win their confidence. . . . The vivacity, the touching incidents, the free, hearty expression of their thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows, they reserve for their own sex." The women were convinced and the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior (WBMI), with headquarters in Chicago, came into being. 
Congregational connections to the growing frontier settlements of the West and of the Pacific Islands led to the founding of two more women's boards within five years. In 1871 the Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific Islands (WBMPI) was organized in Hawaii by a female missionary on furlough from Micronesia. In 1873 a small group of Congregational women met in Santa Cruz, California, to mobilize women's resources throughout the western states and territories in a Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific (WBMP). Although the boards back east objected to these organizations, because they were "so far from the centers of civilization," the California women argued that this was exactly the reason they needed to be an independent board. Furthermore, they were "the natural gateway to Japan, China, the myriad islands of the seas and the infant missions of Mexico." 
Early on all the woman's boards adopted some important principles that shaped their work: First, they existed primarily to serve the needs of women. They supported women missionaries in the field who were single and encouraged the employment of competent, native "Bible women." Second, they sought funds in such a way so as not to diminish contributions to the American Board. They made it a policy, however, to raise money one year and spend it the next year. This way they always knew the limits of their resources. Third, their support was personal. Branches were encouraged to "adopt" specific missionaries and to "pledge" to specific projects. Fourth, they did everything in their power to keep administrative overhead low, relying on "unpaid, freely given labor." 
In the fifty to sixty years of their independent work three of these women's boards (WUM, WBMI, and WBMP) contributed over 20 percent of the total receipts of the American Board. In 1927 these three woman's boards were reunited with the American Board and have continued as part of the United Church Board for World Ministries since the formation of the United Church of Christ. The WBMPI continues its independent existence in close relationship with the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ. The Christian denomination had its origins in the American zeal to overcome past divisions and organizations and get back to the basics. Christians were in New England, North Carolina, and Virginia and on the Appalachian frontier well before 1800, but they were reluctant to organize. One historian wrote:
Remember that many years passed before the Christians pretended to organize like other denominations, and then ensued a period when energy was largely absorbed with church building and controversy over sectarian, theological, and metaphysical subjects. Combatting error was deemed almost paramount to declaring the truth. 
The Christians did eventually organize and embark on enterprises to share the truth.
Regional mission societies for "home" work were operating by the 1820s to help organize new churches, but not until 1854 was a national Board of Home and Foreign Missions elected and not until after the Civil War did the denomination have a national missionary department with a full-time secretary. 
This delay in organizing did not prevent women from becoming involved in the leadership of Christian churches. Women preachers and evangelists were an important chapter in the early history of the Christian denomination. Also, records of local women's organizations for mission in New York and Michigan during the 1850s have been found. Perhaps the lack of a national denominational organization actually helped the cause of women, because there were few structures through which to formalize masculine control.
Before long, however, men and women alike were advocating a "woman's board." And in 1886, at the quadrennial session of the American Christian Convention, held at New Bedford, Massachusetts, the Woman's Board for Foreign Missions was elected. Four years later, in 1890, at Marion, Indiana, the women of the Convention organized a Woman's Board for Home Missions. 
What these Boards, together with the Conference Boards and local societies with their constituents, have done for the missionary interests of our denomination would fill a volume.... Suffice it to say that they have not worked to "be seen of men," but "He who seeth in secret" will reward them openly. 
When the Congregational Churches and the Christian Churches came together in 1931 to form the Congregational Christian Churches, the women's boards of the Christian Churches became part of the world and home mission boards of the new denomination. Together with their Congregational sisters, Christian women were guaranteed one-third female representation on the governing boards of these significant structures for mission and outreach.
Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod (Reformed)
The first missionary society in the Reformed Church in the United States was created in 1826 by the Synod of Frederick, Maryland. An auxiliary Female Missionary Society apparently came into being at the same time, but its activities were strictly local. In 1838, when the Synod organized a foreign board it decided to carry out its work through the same interdenominational American Board that served the Congregationalists. The arrangement was a happy one. German Reformed money and missionaries worked through the American Board for twenty-five years.
After the Civil War, however, in 1866, the Reformed Church in the United States decided to seek its own mission field and establish an independent mission board. In 1873 a Board of Foreign Missions was organized, with special commitments to sponsor mission work in Japan. 
The involvement of women in these developments was minimal. Women in the German Reformed churches were "at that time completely unorganized, and we might say completely uninterested." The records show, however, that in 1869 a Rev. S.B. Yockey made an appeal to the Ohio Synod that the church should organize women for missions. This appeal was the beginning, although the suggestion did not "take root in the extremely conservative soil of our Reformed denomination." 
Women's work in the Reformed Church eventually took shape. Much of its strength resulted from the tireless work of Samuel Yockey's wife, Elvira Beilhartz Yockey. Elvira Yockey was raised a Methodist, but on her marriage she embraced the Reformed tradition. She became convinced that women had a special responsibility for mission and could not understand how the church could revolve around Christ and yet have so little zeal in carrying out Christ's final command to share the faith.
Reformed women had served the churches through "aid societies," whose chief aim was to raise money to help their own congregations. Contributions to mission were "incidental." Looking back many years later Elvira Yockey wrote: "Women's Missionary Societies as they now exist whose exclusive aim was to work for missions, not only in raising money, but in creating sentiment, in educating and training the women and children along the lines of missionary activity, were unknown." She wanted her church to follow the example of women in other denominations and organize for mission. She wanted to release the energies of women for the gospel. 
The women were expected to "keep silence in the churches." Their voices were never heard even in public prayer, and to this day in most of the prayer meetings of the church the number of audible prayers is limited to the number of men present. How much the church owes to the number of silent prayers that ascend heavenward from feminine hearts, can never be known. 
But the idea of a woman's society had little favor among the older members of the congregation. Elvira Yockey continued to promote the idea in her husband's church. Frequent mention from the pulpit and in "social intercourse" of the benefits that other denominations were deriving from woman's work in missionary societies brought about a gradual change in sentiment. Finally, in 1877, the Woman's Missionary Society of the First Reformed Church of Xenia, Ohio, came into being. It was the beginning. 
Elvira Yockey wrote many letters and encouraged other churches to found societies. "There were no precedents to follow, no model constitutions, no prepared programs or books of study.... The presidents were compelled to do almost all the work, not because our women were unwilling, but because they were timid and untrained,"(28) In 1883 the first public recognition of women's work was made by the Pittsburgh Synod, and in 1887 the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod was organized at Akron, Ohio.  By the second triennial meeting of the Society,
many who had opposed or failed to encourage the movement became convinced that the work was for and from God. The unwomanly aggressiveness which some feared was entirely absent. There was no spirit of self seeking, no effort to adopt masculine methods, or usurp masculine prerogative, but only an intensely earnest desire to have some part in the evangelization of the world. This earnestness, as is usually the case in the best type of womanhood, went hand in hand with a persistence that admitted no denial. 
From these beginnings the national society came to publish The Woman's Journal and by 1914 to establish a national Philadelphia office. In 1923 the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod supported three full-time staff members.  As the Society approached its fiftieth anniversary, in 1937, conversations commenced with the women of the Evangelical Synod of North America. Soon thereafter, in 1939, the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Women's Union of the Evangelical Synod of North America formed the Women's Guild of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. 
Evangelical Women's Union
During the years when Congregational, Christian, and Reformed women were creating national organizations for women, women in German Evangelical churches were preoccupied with the local needs of their congregations. This preoccupation is understandable, considering the fact that Evangelical churches were the last of the four denominations that merged to form the United Church of Christ to organize nationally. In the late nineteenth century many German immigrants were still tied to their European roots and slow to develop an American ecclesiastical loyalty. The Evangelical Synod of North America did not come into being until 1877. Therefore, that a national organization for Evangelical women was not created until 1921 was not surprising.
Once again, wartime experience—this time World War I—prompted women to seek more independence and gave them confidence in their abilities. One woman wrote:
"Every cloud has a silver lining," says the optimist and our "silver lining" lay hidden in the black cloud of the world war. In those days organized effort was a necessity. Community, fraternal and church organizations found a common cause and vied in ardor and zeal. Our constituency [Evangelical women] did its part. Red Cross reports showed Evangelical women in the front ranks. That was therefore the psychological moment.... [Women] saw the opportunity and seized it by sending a plea to the General Conference, convening in the city of Pittsburgh, September, 1917, asking them to federate the Evangelical womanhood. Statistics of the Red Cross Society showed that the organized women of our church could be made a power. 
A convention was called at Cincinnati, Ohio, June 29-30, 1921, and the National Union of Evangelical Women was born. The Union did not limit its membership or the types of activities it supported. It "chose to include ALL women's societies within the Church and to incorporate ALL branches of the denomination in its program."  Yet the organization of a national union was a radical step in the eyes of some.
In the Evangelical Year-Book for 1923 a seven-page article appeared entitled "The Call of the Church to Her Women," which defended the legitimacy of women's work in the church. The author admitted that the new organization was an innovation, but the church does not need to fear innovation when it "can be shown to square with reason and conscience and the Word of God." The call of the church to these women had in "back of it the whole age-old force of religious tradition from the very beginnings of the human race." After spelling out the power of these traditions the article closed with conviction.
It is not only lawful for her [the church] to call upon her army of devoted and earnest women to render what service they are able to perform, it is her sacred duty to do so, and to organize them so that they may be able to do the work to which they are best suited in the most effective manner. 
Evangelical women had always been loyal in assuming responsibilities and meeting the needs of the local church. Now they were invited to move beyond home and congregation to support programs for the Synod and for the "Kingdom-at-large." In so doing they would become acquainted with one another and better understand the program of their denomination. 
The organization was a success. In 1923 the name was changed to the Evangelical Women's Union. Soon thereafter the Board of Directors began issuing a "Monthly Program," with topics and suggested activities for women's groups. As the years went by the programs of the Union affected the lives of women in many ways. By 1936 its work was carried out through six departments: education, devotional life, missionary education, stewardship (including the thank offering), social welfare, and citizenship. It was an impressive record. 
Once the Evangelical and Reformed Church had been consummated the Evangelical women moved with confidence toward merger with their Reformed sisters. They believed that the Evangelical Women's Union had "proven herself a faithful and fruitful 'Handmaid' of the Church, locally and inter-denominationally." In the coming merger they prayed that it would continue to be a blessing. 
The Success of Women's Work for Women
The development of these independent women's mission boards did three things for women and the churches: (1) It transformed the mission consciousness of the churches, (2) it improved the situation of the women involved, and (3) it created a climate that supported the advancement of women and the ecumenical movement. The personal involvement of women in the mission movement was its great strength. The women demonstrated repeatedly "the power of small offerings frequently collected from large numbers of contributors." Whereas the general mission boards asked for large contributions, "the women asked for two cents per week—asked it from door to door; devised mite boxes, formed small local circles, held frequent meetings, looked after children, old women, poor people, hand-picked their own fruit, and astonished the world with their success." 
Furthermore, the women developed a new style of missionary literature. Historically, missionary literature had consisted of annual reports, anniversary sermons, and missionary biographies. In contrast, the women prepared low-cost materials that appealed to women and children. They overwhelmed the missionary ignorance of the churches with leaflets, stories, poems, and summaries that could be bought for a few cents or even given away. "These light troops could penetrate where the more ponderous forces never would be moved, and so began the great popularization of missions." 
The active and personal involvement of women in this work not only assisted the mission cause but also enriched the women themselves, "These women could never have learned so much had they merely turned their money over to others to administer." Rather they took on heavy responsibilities and the necessity for decision and initiative. They were "in touch with great things, they saw and knew the women missionaries going out to the field, they became their personal friends, they were aware of international problems and movements." Their organizations became training schools for thousands of women throughout the land. 
An argument can be made that the women's mission boards were an important step in the secular movement to expand woman's role in American society and to push American Protestants into the ecumenical movement. Women's organizations for missions were the first women's clubs specifically to send out help to other women. This experience built networks of support and raised consciousness about women's problems. As the years went by simple mission piety changed to feminist consciousness, Words like foreign and heathen disappeared from the annual reports. The word ladies was changed to women. Women placed increasing emphasis on cooperation, internationalism, interdenominationalism, and unification.
In 1888 women from the United States and Canada joined with British women to create the first international ecumenical missionary agency intended to be universal in scope-the World's Missionary Committee of Christian Women. Despite strong denominational pressures to organize separately the women "kept their sense of solidarity and conversed, discussed, corresponded, and acted together." Working through ecumenical councils, federations, and committees they invited all Christians to pray together and share responsibility for the work of the church. They were extremely successful. The Sunday School Union, the World Day of Prayer, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Cooperating Committee for Women's Christian Colleges in Foreign Fields, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Committee on Christian Literature for Women and Children in Mission Fields, and Church Women United are only a few of the ecumenical ventures that grew out of these independent missionary organizations for women. 
Women's work and woman's boards are a unique chapter in the history of women and the United Church of Christ.
Barbara Brown Zikmund was president of Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She is a member of the UCC Historical Council. Sally A. Dries is the pastor of Salem UCC, Shamokin, Pennsylvania. She was formerly Director of the Ecumenical Women's Center, Chicago.
1. Grace T. Davis, Neighbors in Christ: Fifty-Eight Years of World Service by the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior (Chicago: James Watson and Co., 1926), p. 7.
2. Catherine Beecher, An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism with reference to the Duty of American Females (Philadelphia: Henry Perkins, 1837), pp. 99-103, quoted in Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rosemary Skinner Keller, eds., Women in Religion in America: The Nineteenth Century, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981], p. 311.
3. See Barbara Welter, "The Feminization of American Religion, 1800-1860" in Dimity Convictions (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1976), p. 91, and Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Knopf, 1977).
4. Davis, op. cit., p. 6.
5, R. Pierce Beaver, American Protestant Women in World Mission: A History of the First Feminist Movement in North America, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), pp. 14-16.
6. Fred Field Goodsell, You Shall Be My Witnesses (Boston: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1959], pp. 154-55. See also William E. Strong, The Story of the American Board (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1910).
7. Goodsell, op. cit., pp. 156-57.
8. Grace T. Davis, "History of Congregational Women's Societies" in Matthew Spinka, ed., A History of Illinois Congregational and Christian Churches (Chicago: Congregational and Christian Conference of Illinois, 1944), pp. 208-9.
9. First Annual Report of the Woman's Board of Missions: Presented at Its Annual Meeting in the Mount Vernon Church, Boston, January 5, 1869 (Boston: George C. Rand and Avery, 1869), pp. 4-5.
10. Third Annual Report of the Woman's Board of Missions: Presented at Its Annual Meeting in the Mount Vernon Church, Boston, January 3,1871 (Boston: Rand, Avery and Frye, 1871), p. 9.
11. Davis, Neighbors in Christ, op. cit., p. 9.
12. Albertine Loomis, To All People: A History of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ (Kingsport, TN: Kingsport Press, 1970), pp. 380-81.
13. History of Fifty Years: Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific and Program of Jubilee Meetings (San Francisco: n. p., 1923], pp. 11-12.
14. Goodsell, op. cit., pp. 161-64.
15. Ibid., pp. 167-73.
16. Milo True Morrill, A History of the Christian Denomination in America: 1794-1911 (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, 1912), p. 246.
17. Ibid., p. 251.
18. John Franklin Burnett, Early Women of the Christian Church: Heroines All, Booklet Six (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, N.D.). See also Barbara Brown Zikmund, "Abigail Roberts: 'Female Laborer' in the Christian Churches," Historical Intelligencer 2, no. 1 (Fall 1982): 3-9.
19. Alice V. Morrill, "Our Women's Work" in J. Pressley Barrett, ed., The Centennial of Religous Journalism, 2d ed. (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, 1908), pp. 509-10.
20. Ibid., p. 510.
21. E. S. Yockey, Historical Sketch of the Origin and Growth of the Woman's Missionary Societies of the Reformed Church (Alliance, OH: The Women's Journal, 1898), p. 5.
22. Elizabeth T. Flynn, "Historical Sketch," The Outlook of Missions 13(May 1921):p. 230.
24. Yockey, op. cit., p. 4.
25. Ibid., p. 7.
28. Flynn, op. cit., p. 231.
29. Yockey, op. cit., pp. 8-9.
30. Ibid., pp. 17-18.
31. "The Woman's Missionary Society of General Synod," The Messenger, June 17, 1937, pp. 8-9.
32. Mrs. V. J. Bartell, "Highlights of the Merger Convention: The Ceremony of Merger"(mimeographed, n.p., N.D.).
33. Mrs. A. A. Sotier, The First Ten Years (n.p.: 1931), p. 2.
34. H. L. Streich, "For a Larger Service: Beginnings of the Organization" in Mrs. Hugo Schuessler, ed., Beginnings of the Evangelical Women's Union compiled for the Fifteenth Anniversary (St. Louis: Evangelical Women's Union, 1936), p. 6.
35. "The Call of the Church to Her Women," Evangelical Yearbook 1923, pp. 22-28.
36. Mrs. F. A. Keck, "Beginnings Reviewed by the First President," in Schuessler, op. cit., p. 4.
37. Streich, op. cit., p. 6.
38. Ibid., p. 8.
39. Helen Barrett Montgomery, Western Women in Eastern Lands (New York: Macmillan, 1914), p. 38.
40. Ibid., p. 39.
41. Davis, "History of Congregational Women's Societies," op. cit., p. 222.
42. Beaver, op. cit., pp. 145-50, and Davis, Neighbors in Christ, op. cit., pp. 200-5. See also Mrs. Fred S. Bennett et al., The Emergence of Interdenominational Organizations Among Protestant Church Women (New York: United Council of Church Women, 1944), and Gladys G. Calkins, Follow These Women: Church Women in the Ecumenical Movement (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A., 1961).
Welcome to the Faith Formation ministries page of the United Church of Christ! There is a wealth of information and resources for your adaptation and use on this site, so please feel free to visit often.
A Reflection on Faith Formation
Yet, O Lord, you are our God;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. –Isaiah 64:8
Faith formation is at the heart of what the Christian life is all about. In many ways, we engage in the practices of our daily lives and the rituals of our faith communities—through worship, mission, working for justice and peace, evangelism, and education—so that our faith may be nurtured, enlivened, sustained, and formed. In this regard, the imagery offered by the prophet Isaiah of Potter God forming humanity, God's created own, is an appropriate vision for how we might view the ministry of faith formation.
In the United Church of Christ, we can understand faith formation to be "an engaged process of learning and practice integrated throughout all aspects of congregational and daily life." This definition highlights the initiative and action we must take in our own faith formation. In essence, we become clay so that we are formed and transformed by the Holy and by one another. But throughout all of our doing and being, we are reminded that God's "hands" are continually present in our efforts to gain both "head" knowledge found in education and learning and "heart" wisdom discovered through prayer, ritual, and practice.
So, it is indeed most fitting to say that faith formation is at the heart of what our living and being is all about; but without the hands that guide what we are continually becoming, the process is incomplete. May this webpage offer some helpful tools from which you and others can “become clay” and be reminded of God's formational presence along life's journey.
Small Group Study Resources
Dialogues on Christian Faith Formation and Education
Dialogue #1: Marcus Borg
Dialogue #2: Doug Pagitt
Dialogue #3: Geoffrey Black
Dialogues on Christian Faith Formation and Education is offered with the intent of promoting conversation around the past, present, and future of faith formation in the United Church of Christ.
Children and Families Ministries for the 21st Century (ppt)
Annual Meeting, Penn Central Conference, Selinsgrove, PA – June 2013
Transitioning UCC Faith Formation Ministries (ppt)
New England Association of United Church Educators (NEAUCE) Annual Meeting, Centerville, MA – May 2013
Infusing Best Practices of Faith Formation into Your Congregation (ppt)
New England Association of United Church Educators (NEAUCE) Annual Meeting, Centerville, MA – May 2013
Faith Formation, Christian Education, or Other: Shaping Ministry in Your Church (ppt)
Congregations Alive, Rocky Mountain Conference – February 2013
Futuring Faith Formation and Leadership Development(ppt)
Young Adult Service Communities (YASC) Host Church Leaders’ Training, Cleveland, OH – January 2013
Futuring Faith Formation for Wider Church Ministry (ppt)
Network of Wider Church Youth Ministers (NOWCYM) Annual Gathering, New Orleans, LA – December 2012
Christian Faith Formation: Best Practices in A Shifting Landscape (ppt)
United Church of Chapel Hill, NC – November 2012
Highlights of “Foundations, Findings, and Futures: Christian Faith Formation and Education in the United Church of Christ” (ppt)
Faith Formation for Children and Youth Ministry Team Retreat, Minnesota Conference – October 2012
Foundations, Findings, and Futures: Christian Faith Formation and Education in the United Church of Christ (ppt)
Education Consultants’ Gathering, Cleveland, OH – September 2012
Where Are All the “Young People?” An Exploration of Young Adults, Spirituality, and Their Experiences of Church (ppt)
Growth Ministry Team, Rocky Mountain Conference – August 2012
What Makes Your Youths’ Spirits SOAR? A Multisensory Focus Group on Youth Faith Formation – Youth Leaders (ppt)
What Makes Your Spirit SOAR? A Multisensory Focus Group on Faith Formation – Youth (ppt)
National Youth Event, Purdue, IN – July 2012
Out of the Classroom and Into the World: Faith Formation in the Postmodern Age (ppt)
March in the Son, Connecticut Conference – March 2012
Faith Formation and Education Research on Young Adults (ppt)
LinK Event: Young Adult Ministry Workers, Cleveland, OH – December 2011
A page that shares information helpful to educators.
Seeking A Church Educator
So, your church needs a Christian Educator. Where can you find viable candidates? What qualifications should you look for? What is reasonable compensation? "Seeking A Church Educator" gives a concise guide to get you started.
The United Church of Christ Book of Worship is now available on CD along with a catalog of selected resources from the Worship and Education Ministry team.
Looking for resources for your congregation education program which are:
+Multi-racial and Multi-cultural,
+Age or interest specific,
+Currently available (from United Church of Christ Resources or another publisher),
+Printed or Multi-Media
Check the bibliographies for some of the best resources recommended by United Church of Christ congregations.
What Matters includes a variety of resources to connect your questions of faith with the deep faith expressed by the UCC. Explore six aspects of our faith through links below. Discover what matters through reflection, stories from UCC congregations and members, stories from history, Bible study, prayer, worship, and service.
Resources for Christian Education Sunday
Service Prayers and Liturgies (Online)
Come, Teach Us, Spirit of Our God – TNCH #287
O God, Who Teaches Us To Live – TNCH #359
Praise the Source of Faith and Learning – TNCH #411
Teach Me, O Lord, Your Holy Way – TNCH #465
God, Speak to Me, That I May Speak – TNCH #531
O Grant Us Light – TNCH #469
Colorful Creator – TNCH #30
Open My Eyes, That I May See
Litany for Recognition of Teachers
One: Teachers are called to serve the church in a variety of roles – ordained and lay, volunteer and paid. The United Church of Christ [or insert your own church name here] recognizes and affirms with deep appreciation the outstanding, faithful, and dedicated commitment to the teaching task. Today we honor all those dedicated teachers in the UCC. We thank you, O God, for the ministry of education.
Many: Gentle and Loving God, through the ministry of teaching we learn about you, your creation of humankind, your trust in us to be your people, and your expectation that we will be responsible stewards of your creation.
One: We also learn, from the Holy Spirit and from our spiritual ancestors, that we have room to grow in faith.
Many: Priests, prophets, and wise counselors teach us through the Hebrew scriptures. Evangelists, apostles, and letter-writers in the Christian scriptures teach us of your love and forgiveness.
One: Most of all, we learn from your living Word, Jesus the teacher.
Many: That story, always fresh, comes to us through teachers in the church.
One: We thank you now and offer you praise for the educational ministry of [names]. Help us to affirm and support them in the ministry of teaching.
Unison: We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
[Present certificate or other gift, and/or offer handshake or sign of peace.]
Adapted from the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Awards. Originally from the Committee on Certification for Church Educators in the United Church of Christ.
Just click on our link to our Seminarians' Page plus links to UCC-related seminaries, universities and colleges. Also, you will find information on campus ministries and a mailing list for college students.
The United Church of Christ Undergraduate Scholarship for UCC members studying at U.S. colleges and universities.
These are foundational documents on education in local congregations that were developed by the former United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.
Discerning New Strategies for the Support of UCC Education Leaders
The Future of UCC Certification
Over forty years ago the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries began a program of certifying those employed in education ministries in the United Church of Christ. The program of Certification of Church Educators was designed as one strategy to establish standards for those employed in ministries of education and to provide support for education leaders in the church.
At the time the Certification program began few persons, even those with a Masters degree in religious education, were eligible for ordination. A few had become “Commissioned Workers” in education, but this credential was not then in uniform use across the denomination. Those employed as educators by the church needed a program to support and set standards for this ministry.
Initially Certification as a Church Educator required a Masters degree in religious education. It soon became evident that there were two other categories of educators serving churches and the program responded by developing standards for employed educators with a college degree, and another set of standards for those who did not have college training. These three categories – Specialist, Accredited, and Designated – added a layer of complexity to the program.
Today the situation is very different both for those engaged in education ministries and for local churches. Most of the relatively small group who have taken advantage of the program of Certification of Church Educators are also either Ordained or Commissioned ministers and are thus authorized ministers in the denomination. Less than 5% of those working as part time educators in local churches have taken advantage of the Certification program.
Another big change in the life of the church has been the growing availability of workshops and events to empower educators in their ministries. Annually the Association of United Church Educators offers 3 or 4 regional continuing education events for educators which have consistently been of high quality and well attended by those in education ministries. Many conferences have offered lay school programs attended by both employed and volunteer educators. While most seminaries no longer offer a degree program in religious education, many offer classes and continuing education events for educators. The Defiance College offers a distance learning program which results in a Bachelors degree in religious education. There are many ecumenical events and programs which offer continuing education of help to church educators.
For several years the Committee on Certification and staff at Local Church Ministries have been discussing the future of the program of Certification for Church Educators. In September 2009 a group, representing the Committee on Certification, national staff, the Association of United Church Educators, higher education faculty, and conference staff, met in Cleveland to make recommendations to Local Church Ministries about the future of the program.
One reality that group faced is, with shrinking budgets at in the national setting of the church, it is no longer feasible to continue to staff a program which serves such a small percentage of educators, especially when those same educators now are eligible to attain authorized ministry standing through associations or conferences.
This group has recommended that the many settings of the United Church of Christ – local churches, conferences, associations, national ministries, seminaries, colleges, and organizations – continue to find strategies to support the development of leaders in education for the ministry of the church. It was the discernment of that group that the program of Certification of Church educators no longer is the best strategy for providing that support.
The meeting has made four recommendations to Local Church Ministries.
1. Place the Certification process on hold for 2010 while Local Church Ministries decides on the future of the program.
Those due for renewal in 2010 will be given an automatic one-year extension. If the Certification program is ended, those certified would continue to be Certified Educators.
2. Discern the place of educational leadership ministry development within the national setting of the United Church of Christ.
The group has asked the Congregational Vitality and Discipleship and the Parish Life and Leadership Ministries to discern where attention to education leaders may be placed in the staff structure of the national setting of the church.
3. Create a path for professional education ministry standards.
A task group was created to make recommendations for adding standards for educators to the Manual on the Ministry for ordained and commissioned ministers and to offer minimal standards as guidelines for local churches employing educators not eligible to be authorized ministers.
4. Create assistance for education volunteers.
The group recognized that most attention over the years has been given to employed educators. Most of the education in local churches is done by volunteers. There is need for all settings of the church to look at ways to support these education leaders.
These recommendations have been forwarded to the board of Local Church Ministries and to appropriate staff. If you have any comments you wish to pass on to the Working Group, please send them to the group’s AUCE representative, Elsa Marshall (email@example.com) or to David Schoen (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Local Church Ministries.
Those involved in the meeting which made these recommendations include:
· Debbie Gline Allen (AUCE Coordinating Committee, commissioned minister, certified educator)
· JoAnne Bogart (Certification Committee, AUCE Coordinating Committee, ordained minister, certified educator)
· Lisa Hart (conference staff, AUCE Coordinating Committee)
· K. Ray Hill (Certification Committee, ordained minister, certified educator)
· Michelle Hintz (Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team member, Certification Committee)
· Elsa Marshall (conference staff, Certification Committee, AUCE Coordinating Committee, commissioned minister, certified educator)
· Ken Ostermiller (former UCC staff person for Certification, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team member, ordained minister, certified educator)
· Marian Plant (meeting facilitator, Defiance College faculty, ordained minister, certified educator)
· David Schoen (Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team leader, ordained minister)
· Dick Sparrow (Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team leader, ordained minister)
· John Whitebread (AUCE Coordinating Committee, commissioned minister)
Ordained and lay educators are called to serve the church in a variety of roles and settings, in and beyond the local church. Life experiences and formal education among church educators is quite diverse. Mindful of this diversity, the United Church of Christ offers a certification process which recognizes and affirms the competence of church educators in many settings.
This certification process started in 1963 and is administered by the Worship and Education Ministry Team of Local Church Ministries...
- recognizes and affirms the competence of church educators
- encourages personal assessment, evaluation, and intentional growth, and
- seeks to incorporate persons into a relationship of support and accountability with other church educators
Three categories of certification are available to employed church educators who are members of the United Church of Christ and to others employed in church education in a UCC-related setting.
Designated Church Educator
A candidate for certification as a Designated Church Educator needs at least three years employment in church education before applying for certification. Although a bachelor's degree is not required, candidates may have a degree that is unrelated to church education. The educational norm is the completion of a non-credit concentrated program of skill development in church education. Certification is for a period of five years and may be renewed.
Accredited Church Educator
A candidate for certification as an Accredited Church Educator needs at least two years employment in church education before applying for certification. The educational norm is a bachelor's degree plus/ or including academic credits related to church education. Certification is for a period of five years and may be renewed.
Specialist in Church Education
A candidate for certification as a Specialist in Church Education needs at least one years employment in church education before applying for certification. The educational norm is a graduate theological degree plus/or including academic credits related to church education. Certification is for a period of five years and may be renewed.
Recognition of Certified Educators
Local churches may wish to recognize and celebrate the Certification of a church educator. Some ways in which local churches make this recognition are listed below.
- Recognition in service of worship.
- Liturgy of Recognition
- Guest preacher and/or speaker.
- Flowers on communion table.
- Honor at coffee hour.
- Corsage, boutonniere.
- Frame certificate.
- Give "The Church Educator's Code" in format suitable for framing.
- Flyer about Ordering Church Educator's Code
- Give book or other gift.
- Article in church newsletter.
- Article in local paper.
- Mention in worship bulletin.
- Place book in church library in honor of the certified person.
- Plant a tree on church grounds in this person's honor.
- Invite the certified educator to make a presentation in an adult education setting: Present the paper(s) written and/or project described as part of the application for certification. Share the goals set as part of the application for certification or for renewal of certification.
- Have a celebration with the educator's "constituents," i.e., with children if he/she works mainly with children; with teachers if work is mostly with teachers; etc.
The Church Educator's Code
The Church Educator's Code: Purpose and Use
The Church Educator's Code is modeled on and follows the spirit of the codes for ordained, commissioned, and licensed ministers from the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry: Perspectives and Procedures for Ecclesiastical Authorization of Ministry. It is offered for use by local churches, associations, conferences, and other United Church of Christ calling bodies, other settings, and educators.
The Purpose of Code
The primary purpose of The Church Educator's Code, like the codes in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry: Perspectives and Procedures for Ecclesiastical Authorization of Ministry, is to give expression to and facilitate conversations about the commonly held values and expectations of the church in relation to those involved in educational ministries in the United Church of Christ.
The code addresses issues of commitment, ethics, and etiquette. It recognizes that the church ascribes significant meaning and value to behavior in the realm of each item in the code. While there may be significant diversity within the Church in relation to any specific item, that item does represent an arena in which church people and groups have values and make judgments about the actions of educators and churches.
The code seeks to recognize and express the experience of the church and to name those understandings and behaviors which are valued by the Church.
The Church Educator's Code is provided for educators and churches to discuss with each other their values and expectations. The emphasis is on relationships in settings in which educators are called to ministry.
The Use of the Church Educator's Code
The Church Educator's Code my be used pastorally by any setting of ministry to which a church educator is called.
The code may be used as a teaching tool to help newly-called educators to identify the many spheres in which behavior is viewed, valued, and assessed. It may be used by conference staff when they work with a local church to develop a position for a church educator. It may be used by groups of educators for study, guidance, and reflection.
The code may be used in times of conflict to enable persons to talk with one another about the underlying assumptions and unspoken expectations they have, which are producing suspicion or alienation, so that reconciliation may occur. The code may help conference staff provide assistance to a ministry setting about issues related to educators who do not have ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministry standing.
The code may be used in settings where an educator, local church, calling body, and/or conference staff are exploring the call of a church educator (e.g. interviewing, negotiating the terms of a call, etc.).
The code, or an adaptation of it, may be used in liturgical settings to provide content to the vows covenantal partners make to one another.
The code may be used in any setting in dealing with accountability for church educators to clarify the values, assumptions, and expectations they are making about the commitments and actions of one another.
Additional Options for Church Educators
Employed lay UCC church educators may apply to their local committee on the ministry for standing as a commissioned minister, according to the procedures outlined in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry and the practice of the association. Although commissioning is an ecclesiastical process, and certification is a professional recognition, some committees on the ministry look to certification as a means of ascertaining the attainment of necessary knowledge and skills for commissioned ministry in church education.
Church educators, lay and ordained, may seek placement through procedures established by the Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team and the associations of the United Church of Christ. A packet for completing a professional profile may be obtained by contacting the Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115. Phone: 216-736-3845.
Along with volunteers, employed church educators may join AUCE, the Association of United Church Educators, a national UCC educators' organization which provides regional and national education events, a newsletter, and a network of peer support. A membership form may be obtained from the office of the Committee on Certification.
The Defiance College Design for Leadership is an opportunity to earn a college degree in Christian Education through distance learning.
"Communion" is one of 11 introductory brochures from "Practices of Faith in United Church of Christ" published by Local Church Ministries. Other brochures in the series cover Holy Communion, confirmation, gifts of ministry, healing and reconciliation, marriage, mission, prayer, scripture, stewardship, and working for justice. To order the complete set for your congregation, ask for EP128 from United Church of Christ Resources at 800-537-3394.
- From the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Church of Christ
"The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'"
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
"When Jesus was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him."
- Luke 24;30-31
"Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face; here would I touch and handle things unseen. Here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace, and all my weariness upon you lean."
- Horatius Bonar, 1855, alt., The New Century Hymnal
a joyous act of thanksgiving for all God has done, is doing, and will do for the redeeming of creation;
a sacred memorial of the crucified and risen Christ, a living and effective sign of Christ's sacrifice in which Christ is truly and rightly present to those who eat and drink;
an earnest prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit to unite those who partake with the Risen Christ and with each other, and to restore creation, making all things new;
an intimate experience of fellowship in which the whole church in every time and place is present and divisions are overcome;
a hopeful sign of the promised Realm of God marked by justice, love and peace.
The United Church of Christ Book of Worship reminds us that "the invitation and the call [to the supper] celebrate not only the memory of a meal that is past, but an actual meal with the risen Christ that is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet at which Christ wi11 preside at the end of history."
The United Church of Christ is a denomination which reflects the pluralistic story of American Protestantism. Created in 1957, the UCC has brought together ecclesiastical bodies rooted in English Puritanism, American frontier revivalism, and German religious history. In this book, the contributors attempt to move beyond the four main streams of the UCC - the UCC "historical orthodoxy."
This collection of essays expands knowledge about the diversity of the UCC, and connects the UCC with many significant developments in American religious and ethnic history. It explores such areas as Native American Protestantism, black Christian churches, a schism in the German Reformed Church, Armenian congregationalism's missionary beginnings, German congregationalism, blacks and the American Missionary Association, Deaconess ministries, the Schwenkfelders, the Calvin Synod (Hungarian), women's work and women's boards, and Japanese-American congregationalists.
Contributors include: Clifford Alika, Percel O. Alston, John Butosi, William G. Chrystal, Clara Merritt DeBoer, Sally A. Dries, Serge F. Hummon, Martha B. Kriebel, Miya Okawara, Ruth W. Rasche, John C. Shetler, Vahan H. Tootikian, and Barbara Brown Zikmund.
How can you use "Hidden Histories" in your congregation? We think you'll find it useful for book clubs, adult study groups and new-member classes. We encourage you to use your church's newsletter to let folks know that this important series on the rich ethnic and theological history of the United Church of Christ is now online.
Our thanks to Barbara Brown Zikmund, retired historian of the United Church of Christ, and former president of Hartford Seminary, who (in the 1980's) edited these two books on Hidden Histories in the UCC; and to Virginia H. Child, who scanned and proofread these texts. Thanks also to United Church Press for permission to reproduce these two volumes on the web. You can buy print versions of Hidden Histories volume I and volume II from United Church Press along with other books on UCC history and identity.
Editor's Introduction: Beyond historical orthodoxy | pdf
American Indians, missions, and the United Church of Christ | pdf
The Afro-Christian Connection | pdf
The Ursinus School and the reaction against evangelical catholicism | pdf
Armenian Congregationalists flee from genocide and find a home in the U.S. | pdf
German Congregationalism on the American frontier | pdf
Blacks and the American Missionary Association | pdf
The Deaconess Movement in 19th-century America: pioneer professional women | pdf
The Schwenkfelders | pdf
The Calvin Synod: 500 years of tradition lead to the UCC | pdf
Women's work and women's boards | pdf
Sho-Chiku-Bai: Japanese-American Congregationalists | pdf
Hidden Histories in the United Church of Christ: Volume II
On Tuesday, June 25,1957, at Cleveland, Ohio, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, 23 years old, passionate in its impulse to unity, committed to "liberty of conscience inherent in the Gospel," and the Congregational Christian Churches, 26 years old, a fellowship of biblical people under a mutual covenant for responsible freedom in Christ, joined together as the United Church of Christ. The new church embodied the essence of both parents, a complement of freedom with order, of the English and European Reformations with the American Awakenings, of separatism with 20th-century ecumenism, of presbyterian with congregational polities, of neoorthodox with liberal theologies. Two million members joined hands.
The story of the United Church of Christ is the story of people serving God through the church. Co-President James E. Wagner, a graduate of Lancaster Seminary, parish minister, seminary professor, and instructor in Bible, brought intellectual and spiritual stature, wisdom and brotherly warmth to match the generous personality of Co-President Fred Hoskins, gifted Congregational Christian professor and pastor, of liberal theological orientation and consummate organizational ability.
A message was sent to the churches from the Uniting General Synod, signed by its moderators, Louis W. Goebel and George B. Hastings, its co-presidents, and co-secretaries Sheldon E. Mackey and Fred S. Buschmeyer. After acknowledging the separate ancestries of the parties to the union and citing ecumenical "relatives" of both denominations, the message stated, "Differences in ecclesiastical procedure, which in sundry places and times have occasioned tensions and disorders, are appointed their secondary place and are divested of evil effect." The union, the message continued, was possible because the "two companies of Christians hold the same basic belief: that Christ and Christ alone is the head of the Church ... From him [we] derive the understanding of God, ... participation in the same spirit, the doctrines of faith, the influence toward holiness, the duties of divine worship, the apprehension of the significance of baptism and the Lord's Supper, the observance of church order, the mutual love of Christians and their dedication to the betterment of the world" ("Report on the Uniting General Synod:" Advance, July 12, 1957, p. 22).
A Joint Resolution, declaring the basis of union, adopted by both parties at the Uniting General Synod, said in part: "Delegates of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches, in joint session assembled this day in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, do hereby declare that The Basis of Union with the Interpretations has been legally adopted ... that the union ... is now effected under the name of 'The United Church of Christ' ... that the union be formally pronounced ... in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ... that until the adopting Constitution ... The Basis of Union shall regulate the business and affairs of the United Church of Christ .... "
The Second General Synod at Oberlin in 1959 received for study by the churches a first draft of a constitution and approved a Statement of Faith:
Statement of Faith We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, and to his deeds we testify: He calls the worlds into being, creates man in his own image, and sets before him the ways of life and death. He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. He judges men and nations by his righteous will declared through prophets and apostles. In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, he has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to himself. He bestows upon us his Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races. He calls us into his church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be his servants in the service of men, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory. He promises to all who trust him forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, his presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in his kingdom which has no end. Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto him. Amen.
Able administration by the co-presidents and intensive committee work by lay and clergypersons produced an orderly procedure for consolidation of boards and other program agencies. The Third General Synod at Philadelphia in 1961 adopted the Constitution and By-Laws and elected a devoted, hardworking pastor its first president. Ben Herbster, earnest supporter of educational and ecumenical Christian endeavors, always faithful to the needs and requests of local churches and pastors, would guide the "freedom and order" of the new church for eight years. Calling for unity, he would, in his own words, remain "experimental ... seeking new modes that speak to this day in inescapable terms."
The youthful years of the United Church of Christ called the church to ministry in a society barely recovered from a war in Korea, soon thrust with its burden of sorrow and guilt into another in Vietnam. Burgeoning and expensive technologies in a shrinking world seemed to offer the bright prospect of ever more familiar human relationships, with fleeting promises of time to enjoy them, yet generating ominous clouds of increasing crime, violence and fear of nuclear annihilation. The first years of the church's life began during a period of unprecedented national economic prosperity and hope, when, during the preceding decades, new church buildings had abounded to accommodate worshipers disinclined to consider denomination important.
The constitution had provided for the General Synod to recognize the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and the United Church Board for World Ministries as mission instrumentalities. Also recognized to do the work of the church were the Pension Boards and the United Church Foundation. Other program instrumentalities for the whole work of the church have been established, as needed, by the General Synod: Stewardship Council, Office of Communication, Office for Church in Society, and Office for Church Life and Leadership. The General Synod has also provided for such special bodies as Commission for Racial Justice, Commission on Development, Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society, Historical Council, Council for Ecumenism, Council for Higher Education. A Council of Conference Executives includes the 39 conference ministers. A Council of Instrumentality Executives assists the president and Executive Council in planning implementation of General Synod and Executive Council (ad interim for General Synod) decisions. (See pages 32-33, 53-64.)
The priorities, pronouncements, and program recommendations of the General Synods throughout the 1960s and 1970s reflected a biblical sensitivity to God's care for a world that once led Jesus of Nazareth to weep over the city of Jerusalem. Peace, ecumenism, and human rights walked hand in hand in the United Church of Christ during the 1960s, continuing into the 1970s, the last with a louder and louder voice. At the grassroots, many people worked for black and other minority justice rights, for the elevation of women to equal regard and opportunity with men in society, for just treatment and consideration of all persons of whatever sexual affectional preference, for a more humane criminal justice system, and for the enablement of people with handicaps to lead a full life. Local churches were encouraged to support local councils of churches and the work of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, that had in 1950 united many efforts of Protestant and Orthodox churches.
On the national level, a Consultation on Church Union (COCU) was initiated in 1960 to "form [together] a plan of church union both catholic and reformed," and to invite any other churches to join that could accept the principles of the plan. The United Church of Christ promptly joined the effort and COCU produced in 1966 a Plan of Church Union. By 1970, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the International Congregational Council had merged, and in 1976, COCU's In Quest of a Church Uniting was submitted to ten participating American churches for study and response; in 1977, a Plan of Union was published. The consultation would continue and the United Church of Christ often reiterated it "would not do anything alone that could be done as well or better with other churches."
In 1972 United Church Herald joined Presbyterian Life to become A.D. The same inclusive spirit became prominent within the denomination as well. In an attempt to bring young people more fully into the life of the church, the two former national youth structures (Pilgrim Fellowship and Youth Fellowship) were abandoned. In 1969, the Seventh General Synod voted that a minimum of 20 percent of all future Synod delegates and members of national boards must be under 30 years of age. This action has led many conferences, associations, and churches to include youth in decision-making bodies.
Increasing numbers of young people attend General Synods as visitors as well as delegates. Delegates under 30 have strongly influenced decisions. Articulate, committed young people have inspired and given new life to the General Synods since 1969. A 1980 National Youth Event at Carleton College rallied youth leaders of the United Church of Christ. No longer are young people seen as "the church of tomorrow"; they are an integral part of the church today throughout the denomination.
During a period of student unrest, strong protest of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, continuing pressure for minority rights, the initial upheavals of the women's movement, and following national outrage and grief over assassinations of public leaders, North Carolinian Robert V. Moss, New Testament scholar and president of Lancaster Theological Seminary, was elected president of the United Church of Christ by the General Synod in 1969. Greatly loved, a gentle man with firm biblical conviction, he spoke with a loud anti-war voice and guided faithfully the church's peace and justice efforts. With General Synod mandate, he called for withdrawal from Vietnam and for support of United States policies that would lessen rivalries in the Middle East. An advocate of ecumenism, he served with distinction on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and supported its stands against apartheid in South Africa and for world peace.
General Synod VIII, concerned also with the faith crisis, racial justice, peace and United States power, and the local church, established a Task Force on Women in Church and Society, which pressed successfully for a General Synod mandate that 50 percent of delegates to national meetings and members on national boards and councils be women, and later for use of inclusive language in the church. The Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM), Pacific and Asian American Ministries (P AAM), and the Council for Hispanic Ministries look after special needs and interests of their minority groups and offer their unique gifts of ministry to the rest of the church.
From the General Synod in 1973, a delegation of95 flew from St. Louis to the Coachella Valley in California to stand with the United Farm Workers in their struggle against farm owners and a rival union. The General Synod responded to the financial crisis of six black American Missionary Association-founded colleges in the South, by raising $17 million through the bicentennial17176 Achievement Fund campaign between 1974 and 1976. The fund also aided overseas educational institutions. The same General Synod voted bail money for the "Wilmington 10," a group of eight young black men and one white woman who, involved in a North Carolina racial conflict, were imprisoned with a United Church of Christ worker, who was sent by the Commission for Racial Justice to help.
In the autumn of 1976, the church mourned the death from illness of its 54-year-old second president. Robert V. Moss died on October 25. Feeling keenly their loss, the churches received gladly his legacy of concern for justice, peace, and ecumenism.
Joseph H. Evans, secretary of the United Church of Christ, led the church as its third president for an interim period of 11 months. He repeatedly carried across America and overseas a message of unity and purpose to the grieving church and with pastoral skill brought comfort to many people.
Disintegration in the culture of traditional Christian mores surrounding sexual relationships and the institutions of marriage and family raised the need for a church study of human sexuality. Differing perspectives on biblical teaching rendered the study controversial. The General Synod in 1975 and 1977 sustained the conviction that sexual and affectional preference should not be a basis for denial of human rights enjoyed by others.
In 1977, the General Synod chose a vigorous former pastor and Massachusetts Conference minister, Avery D. Post, as president. A New Englander of poetic appreciations and ecumenical faith, grounded in a neoorthodox biblical theology, he was elected by acclamation.
The synod also called the church to responsible monitoring of exploitative broadcasting, public access and opportunity for handicapped persons, and the right to meaningful, remunerative work. World hunger and a threatened environment were commended to United Church Christians for attention and remediation, as was the social responsibility of multinational corporations.
A covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to continue cooperative projects and theological and ecclesiological studies postponed a decision on formal union negotiations until 1985.
United Church Christians provided legal and moral support during the seven years that it took to win vindication for the "Wilmington 10." After a 1979 national women's meeting convened 2,000 women at Cincinnati, the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society was established and funded by General Synod XIII. By 1980, there were 485 United Church of Christ congregations of predominantly minority background, numbering 76, 634 persons of Afro, Asian and Pacific Island, Hispanic, and American Indian heritage. Between 1970 and 1979, each group showed net gains in membership. A decline in general United Church of Christ membership was believed to reflect demographic and migratory patterns in the United States.
Movements within the church such as the United Church People for Biblical Witness, the Fellowship of Charismatic Christians in the United Church of Christ, and United Church Christians for Justice Action help people of like perception and intention to find one another within the "beautiful, heady, exasperating mix" of the pluralistic church.
The church responded to these changes. Recognizing the urgency of Christian renewal and mission, General Synod XIII adopted a four-year program to fund New Initiatives in Church Development. Synod delegates expressed their support for women's equality by participating in vigils to encourage ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Peace and Family Life, eloquently upheld by youth delegates, became priorities for the biennium.
General Synod XIV, meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, saw the election of the Rev. Carol Joyce Brun as the third Secretary of the United Church of Christ, succeeding Dr. Joseph H. Evans. At General Synod XIV the ministry sections of the Constitution and Bylaws were extensively amended, "Youth and Young Adults" was adopted as a priority, a new Council on Racial and Ethnic Ministries was authorized, a mission partnership with the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea was voted, and such mission issues as the concern for persons with AIDS, justice and peace in Ce tral America, and the evil of apartheid in South Africa received the careful attention of the delegates.
Delegates at General Synod XV, meeting in Ames, Iowa, expressed their concern about the farm crisis in the United States, declared the United Church of Christ a Just Peace Church, supported sanctuary for political refugees escaping from South Africa and Central America, and supported full divestment of all financial resources from all corporations doing business with South Africa. In a historic action, General Synod XV voted an ecumenical partnership with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and voted a relationship with the Pentecostal Church of Chile.
Succeeding A.D. in 1985 was a new tabloid, the United Church News.
The United Church of Christ, through the ecumenical Office of the President and the United Church Board for World Ministries, local churches and individual members, continues communication and visitation with Christian leaders, lay and ordained, throughout the world, including those in the Soviet bloc, the war-torn Middle East, developing countries, and especially in partnership with united and uniting churches of Christ. The church remains a member of the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
The United Church of Christ continues, a united and uniting church. God alone is its author, Christ alone its head. A biblical church, it continues to witness by the power of the Holy Spirit, remembering that "truths hitherto guarded in separateness become imperilled by their separateness, because they are in essence 'catholic' truths, not 'sectarian' (Norman Goodall quoted by Hoskins, op. cit., p. 33).
The union by the Congregational and Christian churches seemed the most natural in the world, yet most of their life together from 1931-57 concerned the General Council with matters surrounding church union, first its own and then with the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
Yet the work of the church continued. In 1934, the General Council at Oberlin, "stirred by the deep need of humanity for justice, security, and spiritual freedom and growth, aware of the urgent demand within our churches for action to match our gospel, and clearly persuaded that the gospel of Jesus can be the solvent of social as of all other problems," voted to create the Council for Social Action. The Council reflected the focus of continuing Christian concern for service, international relations, citizenship, Japanese-Americans, rural life, and legislative, industrial and cultural relations. The General Council had acted to simplify and economize at a national level the prolific and redundant independent actions by churches and conferences, while maintaining the inherent liberties of the local churches.
State Conferences, led by Superintendents or Conference Ministers, responded to local church requests for pastors, resources in Christian education, youth and adult conferences, and speakers on mission and social concerns. They received funds for mission, helped new church starts, and maintained ecumenical contacts.
Printed literature and communication continued to be essential. In 1930, the Christian Church's The Herald of Gospel Liberty merged with The Congregationalist, to become Advance. The Pilgrim Press, a division of the Board of Home Missions, continued to publish and distribute books, Christian education curriculum materials, monthly magazines and newspapers, hymnals, worship and devotional material, and resources for education and evangelism. Nationally, the Women's Fellowship connected the work initiated by women in the churches; the Pilgrim Fellowship provided a network of Christian youth. The Laymen's Fellowship enabled men to carry forward a cooperative ministry.
Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed Church leaders already had begun private conversations about union when German Evangelical Church pastor, Martin Niemoeller was incarcerated in Nazi Germany for preaching the Christian gospel from his prominent Berlin pulpit. He boldly opposed the persecution of Jews. On Christmas Eve, 1938, United States Catholics and Protestants, including Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed leaders, sent a message to the German people. A subtle shift in emphasis had gradually crept among the churches from a desire to evangelize the world to a concern for the needs of human society.
The proposed United Church of Christ tried patience and tested persistence. By far the rockier road to union confronted the Congregational Christian Churches. From before the postponed Uniting General Synod of 1950 until 1957, thousands of hours and dollars were spent on court litigation of suits brought against the General Council by autonomous bodies and individuals of the Congregational Christian Churches. Sustained by a court ruling in 1949, the litigants, defining the General Council as "a representative body" accountable to the churches, maintained that the Council had no power to undertake a union involving the churches. Merger leadership defined the General Council as accountable to itself, "a gathering of Christians under the Lordship of Christ." That interpretation persuaded the court to reverse the ruling on appeal, sustained in 1953.
Truman B. Douglass, who would become general secretary of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, pointed to the theological principles of the "Headship of Christ" and the Reformed "priesthood of all believers," that sustained autonomy and fellowship, as basic to the Congregational Christian polity. Therefore it was applicable to the "agencies of fellowship." General Council minister Douglas Horton suggested that the General Council was "a kind of Congregation," and that neither it nor the local church was subordinate to the other.
The most celebrated suit was brought by The Cadman Memorial Congregational Church in Brooklyn on behalf of itselves and other Congregational Christian churches against Helen Kenyon, moderator of the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches. Helen Kenyon bore the weight of these litigations with strength, patience and valor. Justice Archie O. Dawson, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York opined, "It is unfortunate that ministers and church members, who purport to abide by Christian principles should engage in this long, expensive litigation. ... " Then speaking as a "Christian layman ... in all humility" he urged the parties to the controversy to "give prayerful consideration to 1 Corinthians [6:1,5-7] when similar controversies arose to trouble the early Christians" (Fred Hoskins, Congregationalism Betrayed or Fulfilled, Newton, MA: Andover Newton Theological School, 1962. Southworth Lecture [paper], pp. 7-8).
Louis W. Goebel at the 1950 Evangelical and Reformed General Synod had with patience and grace stated, "so long as they continue to extend to us the hand of friendship and fellowship ... we members of a church committed to ... the reunion of Christ's church, are bound to accept that hand" (Louis H. Gunnemann, The Shaping of the United Church of Christ: An Essay in the History of American Christianity, New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1977, p.41).
Ruling against those who would block it, the Court of Appeals issued the assurance that the union "would in no way change the historical and traditional patterns of individual Congregational Christian churches" and that none would be coerced into union. Each member was assured of continuing freedom of faith and manner of worship and no abridgement of congregational usage and practice. The ruling assured the churches that the union would depend on voluntary action taken by independent, autonomous churches (Hoskins, op. cit., p. 41).
In the United Church of Christ, the separate denominational ancestral stories are preserved at the Congregational Library in Boston, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Eden Theological Seminary, and Elon College.
Legally free to proceed with union, uneasiness remained.
Congregational Christians needed to clarify the difference between authority and power; while all autonomous units - individuals, churches, and agencies-were endowed with temporal power, none wielded authority over another except through the biblical authority of God in Jesus Christ. Evangelical and Reformed Christians needed reassurance that there would be one body and not just one head, trusting that the Holy Spirit would make of the Covenant, owned by the parts of the body-individuals, churches, and agencies-a whole United Church of Christ. In trust, a joint 1954 meeting of the Congregational Christian Executive Committee and the Evangelical and Reformed General Council (ad interim for the General Synod) affirmed The Basis of Union with the Interpretations as a foundation for the merger and sufficient for the drafting of a Constitution.
Both communions approached the 1957 Uniting General Synod with fresh leadership. James E. Wagner had succeeded Richards as president of the General Synod in 1953, and on Douglas Horton's resignation in 1955, Fred Hoskins was elected Minister and General Secretary of the General Council. Eight theologians from each uniting communion met to study basic Christian doctrine, theological presuppositions, and doctrinal positions in preparation for the writing of a Statement of Faith.
All of the Evangelical and Reformed churches, responding to a responsibility laid upon them by their church tradition, and those Congregational Christian churches that understood the church as a people gathered by Christ moved a step farther toward reunion of the Christian church on June 25, 1957 as, with faith in God and growing trust in one another, they became The United Church of Christ. Some 100,000 members, unable to accept the union, joined The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches or The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.
These Identity Standards provide the guidelines for proper use of the various United Church of Christ (UCC) visual identity elements recently refined to provide a refreshed, updated and consistent look to the UCC Brand. These Identity Standards include a comprehensive identity system including logo and crest usage, typefaces, color palettes, photography use, correspondence guidelines and templates for Conferences and Churches to use when using both their logos/names and the United Church of Christ logo/name.
These standards have the endorsement of the General Minister and President; oversight for proper use is the responsibility of the Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity & Communication (OPTIC).
Proper and consistent use of the United Church of Christ logos, crest, and marks will enable the UCC to achieve clarity, accuracy and efficiency in all print and digital communications and better position the UCC brand while better aligning throughout its organizational and operational structure – from the National Setting offices in Cleveland to Conferences, Churches and other UCC-affiliated entities.