A prayer for the family
God of all birthing, God of all living, God of all dying, hear our prayers this day.
We pray for our families, in all their complex and wondrous forms, for families of our origin and for those of our choosing.
We give thanks for those who have given us birth, for those who have nurtured us, and for those whose lives were invested in our care. Your love for us has been steadfast and sure, and lived out in those who have cultivated our abilities, enriched our minds, strengthened our bodies, and challenged our spirits.
We mourn those times when our families have not provided for us and for our children the safety, well-being, and love we needed. We recognize and confess those times when we have failed to be agents of your reconciling and renewing love and ask your forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of those whose trust we have violated.
We celebrate the ever-present possibilities for your Church to be a Family of Blessing for your beloved children. We pray that as Church we might always be attentive to the ways in which we can be a community which is ever more inclusive, ever more nurturing, ever more stimulating, ever more relevant, and ever more healing for all your children. May we recommit ourselves daily to your Gospel call to serve those in need in our world as if they were our very own sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, and to advocate for them and their well-being in the halls of power as well as in our own sanctuaries. In the name of the One who came to us, loved us as his own, and gave to us new life, we pray.
Contributed by Reverend Allen V. Harris
In view of the errors of the "German Christians" and of the present Reich Church Administration, which are ravaging the Church and at the same time also shattering the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:
1. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved." John 10:1,9
Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
We reject the false doctrine that the Church could and should recognize as a source of its proclamation, beyond and besides this one Word of God, yet other events, powers, historic figures and truths as God's revelation.
2. "Jesus Christ has been made wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption for us by God." 1 Cor. 1:30
As Jesus Christ is God's comforting pronouncement of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, with equal seriousness, he is also God's vigorous announcement of his claim upon our whole life. Through him there comes to us joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free, grateful service to his creatures.
We reject the false doctrine that there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ but to other lords, areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.
3. "Let us, however, speak the truth in love, and in every respect grow into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body is joined together." Eph. 4:15-16
The Christian Church is the community of brethren in which, in Word and Sacrament, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ acts in the present as Lord. With both its faith and its obedience, with both its message and its order, it has to testify in the midst of the sinful world, as the Church of pardoned sinners, that it belongs to him alone and lives and may live by his comfort and under his direction alone, in expectation of his appearing.
We reject the false doctrine that the Church could have permission to hand over the form of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day.
4. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to have authority over you must be your servant." Matt. 20:25-26
The various offices in the Church do not provide a basis for some to exercise authority over others but for the ministry [lit., "service"] with which the whole community has been entrusted and charged to be carried out.
We reject the false doctrine that, apart from this ministry, the Church could, and could have permission to, give itself or allow itself to be given special leaders [Führer] vested with ruling authority.
5. "Fear God. Honor the Emperor." 1 Pet. 2:17
Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God's Dominion [Reich], God's commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfil the vocation of the Church as well.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.
6. "See, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt. 28:20 "God's Word is not fettered." 2 Tim. 2:9
The Church's commission, which is the foundation of its freedom, consists in this: in Christ's stead, and so in the service of his own Word and work, to deliver all people, through preaching and sacrament, the message of the free grace of God.
We reject the false doctrine that with human vainglory the Church could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of self-chosen desires, purposes and plans.
The Confessing Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a confederation of Confessing Churches. It calls upon all who can stand in solidarity with its Declaration to be mindful of these theological findings in all their decisions concerning Church and State. It appeals to all concerned to return to unity in faith, hope and love.
The Word of God will last for ever.
Adapted from Robert McAfee Brown, Kairos: Three Prophetic Challenges to the Church, published in 1990 by Wm. B. Eerdmans.
About this testimony
The Barmen Declaration, 1934, was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the Nazi state. Almost immediately after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Protestant Christians faced pressure to "aryanize" the Church, expel Jewish Christians from the ordained ministry and adopt the Nazi "Führer Principle" as the organizing principle of church government. In general, the churches succumbed to these pressures, and some Christians embraced them willingly. The pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement became a force in the church. They glorified Adolf Hitler as a "German prophet" and preached that racial consciousness was a source of revelation alongside the Bible. But many Christians in Germany—including Lutheran and Reformed, liberal and neo-orthodox—opposed the encroachment of Nazi ideology on the Church's proclamation. At Barmen, this emerging "Confessing Church" adopted a declaration drafted by Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Lutheran theologian Hans Asmussen, which expressly repudiated the claim that other powers apart from Christ could be sources of God's revelation. Not all Christians courageously resisted the regime, but many who did—like the Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Roman Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg—were arrested and executed in concentration camps. The spirituality of the Barmen Declaration profoundly influenced many of the first generation of pastors and laypeople who formed the United Church of Christ in 1957.
Tips on choosing a Bible for children
Your children will probably go through four to six different Bibles between the day they're born and the day they leave home. This is not only practical, since their reading skills, comprehension levels, and interests change, but it also encourages children to see that they are progressing in their knowledge of God.
In the past, choosing a Bible or Bible storybook for children was a relatively simple task because the choice was limited. Times have changed. Now there is a dizzying variety of Bible storybooks and regular Bibles to choose from. They all come with illustrations, study notes, and other special features. But which one is the best one for your child? Here are some general tips to help you make your choice:
Each of your children should have his or her own Bible. Owning a Bible shows them how important God's Word is and how it should always be on hand as the practical guidebook for life.
Let your children have a say in choosing what type of Bible to buy. Ownership in this decision will increase their interest in reading it.
When your children are old enough to want a whole-text Bible, choose a translation that uses modern language. Some versions are deliberately made for children's use. If you're not familiar with the various modern translations, pick out a few verses from different parts of the Bible and compare how they read in different versions.
Finally, look for children's and teens' Bibles that contain the whole text of the Bible as well as additional materials to help your children understand and apply what they read. Choose a Bible with all or some of the following features: a simple concordance, explanatory notes in the text, introductions to each book of the Bible, maps of Bible lands, cross-references, and Bible facts or trivia.
Here are a few hints for choosing a bible storybook or a Bible by age group
Preschool: Buy a Bible storybook, with simple illustrations, that covers key Bible stories and has a small number of simple words per picture.
Beginning Readers: Choose a storybook that contains simple illustrations and more stories than a preschool storybook. It is best if beginning readers have a storybook that takes two pages or more to tell each story.
Grade Schoolers: Fewer pictures, more words is the key at this level. Make sure the illustrations are interesting and up-to-date. Simple Bible reference lists and an index are also good features to look for at this age level.
AMERICAN INDIANS, MISSIONS, AND THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Serge F. Hummon
Serge F. Hummon is recently retired as Secretary for Church Development and liaison for American Indian Ministries with the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries from 1958 to 1982.
FROM EARLY COLONIAL WRITINGS we know that many white Christian settlers were concerned about the native peoples they found living in North America. Although the violence done to indigenous peoples can never be redressed, it is important to recognize that the churches did not always accept the popular insensitive attitudes about American Indians. Indeed, stories of important Christian mission work among the Cherokee, Choctaw, Dakotas (Sioux), and Winnebago can be traced through the records of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and in the letters of Reformed Church missionaries. Recently this legacy has moved from well-meaning missionary paternalism to ecclesiastical self-determinism. Today the Council for American Indian Ministry of the United Church of Christ supports the churches and ministries of American Indians in the denomination.
The colonial period began with the landing of the Pilgrims and ended with the American Revolution (1620—1783). Because the Pilgrims desired good relations with the Indians, a treaty of peace was drawn up between Gov. John Carver of Plimouth and Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe, which read in part:
1. That neyther he nor any of his should injure or doe hurt to any of our people.
2. And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send the offender, that we might punish him.
3. That if any of our Tooles were taken away when our people were at worke, he should cause them to be restored, and if ours did any harme to any of his, wee would doe the like to them.
4. If any did unjustly warre against him, we would ayde him; if any did warre against us, he should ayde us. (1)
During the early years the English purchased the land they needed for colonization from the Indians. However, both parties were soon involved in land disputes. The years from 1620 to 1675, when King Philip’s war broke out, were dark times. The story of the mission to the Indians was “glorious and often terrible. ... Every promising beginning was brought to a sad end by the injustice of the white citizens to their red brethren.” (2)
Yet the Massachusetts Bay Colony had deeply religious intentions toward the Indians. Its charter vowed “to wynn and invite the Natives . . . [to] the onlie God and Saviour of Mankinde.” John Eliot, the minister at Roxbury, was concerned about the remnants of the tribal people in his area. He learned the Massachusetts language and by 1646 was preaching at Dorchester Mills and Newton. Eliot enlisted others in the mission. He believed that Christian Indians should be segregated from their tribes into towns of “Praying Indians,” where they could be supervised and nurtured in Christian knowledge. Natick was the first town established, in 1651, on land provided by the General Court. A church was organized. By 1674 fourteen towns of Praying Indians, with a total population of four thousand, were in existence. Activities included preaching, teaching, catechizing, Bible reading, and devotional literature. Indians were taught English, agriculture, and domestic crafts.
John Eliot’s mission attracted attention in England. A missionary society was founded in 1649 to solicit contributions for the work, which was explained in a tract titled “New England First Fruits.” Parliament appropriated funds and in the same year established a Corporation for Promoting and Propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England.
But King Philip’s War devastated the towns of Praying Indians. Caught between traditional Indians and whites who suspected them of tribal loyalties, the tribes in eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut were broken up, and the survivors were forced to move west of the Connecticut River.
The Housatonic band of the Mahican tribe was one remnant group that received mission attention. The chief welcomed John Sargent, a young tutor at Yale, as a missionary. Sargent was ordained at Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1735. He began a mission at Stockbridge, Massachusetts that was successful in establishing a church and a day school as well as in organizing a Christian town. The Indians who came together here assumed the name of Stockbridge Indians. Sargent died at age thirty-nine and was succeeded by Jonathan Edwards.
Another active missioner in the 1700s was Eleazar Wheelock. Graduating from Yale in 1733, he was ordained and called to the Second Parish of Lebanon, Connecticut. To supplement his income, he opened a boys’ school in the parsonage. One of his students was Samuel Occam, a Mohegan youth. As a result of his experience with Occam, Wheelock conceived the idea of a school and mission where Indian boys and white boys would be trained together. The Indian boys would learn English and be introduced to Christianity and the skills of white society. The white youths would learn Indian vernacular and the ways of Indian life. Later the youth would be paired in the mission enterprise with remote tribes and sent out to establish churches and schools.
Wheelock’s vision was ambitious. He was sent Delaware and Mohegan youth and established the Moor-Indian Charity School at Lebanon, in 1755. All students were on scholarships. By 1765 he had enrolled twenty-one Indian boys, ten Indian girls, and seven white boys. Being continually short of funds, Wheelock quarreled with his sponsors over support.
In the 1760s the flow of Indian students declined, and Wheelock turned his attention to the education of white youth. He accepted a land grant at Hanover, New Hampshire, where he received a charter for the founding of Dartmouth College. He associated the Moor-Indian Charity School with the new college. By the time of the Revolution, Indian mission work was almost at a standstill.
Wheelock must be remembered for the Calvinist he was. The wrath of God was real to him. He desired to save the perishing souls of the “heathen.” He had contempt for the Indian culture — a shared view of his time — and felt that conversion of the Indians [was] easier, more effective, and far cheaper in lives and money than military conquest.
Gratitude, duty, and loyalty to the King require[dl vigorous prosecution of missions, and the King laid this duty on the colonies in the colonial charters. . . . Furthermore, the savages cannot be expected to keep treaties as long as they remain savages, for they will keep such contracts only when they have been civilized by Christian education. (3)
MISSION SOCIETIES AND GOVERNMENT ACTION
During the waning years of the eighteenth century and the first three decades of the nineteenth century (1783—1830) Indian missionary activity was furthered by associations formed to provide personnel, literature, and Bibles for the expanding frontier. A fear existed that people on the frontier would be paganized. In 1787 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Indians and Others in North America was organized and incorporated in order to give inspiration and leadership to regional societies. One such group was the New York Missionary Society, which sent a mission to the Chickasaw in the South, in 1799. At this time overseas missions were an emerging concern, but frontier settlements and Indian work were priorities. Not until the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was organized, in 1810, did foreign missions receive major focus.
The young country faced the question of relations with the tribes. The new Constitution of 1787 vested policy formation in the Congress. In 1806 the office of Commissioner of Indian Trade was established. The tribes were dealt with as foreign nations that possessed treaties with the government. Administration was placed in the War Department. Henry Knox, the first Secretary of War, shared the view of mission society executives that Christianity and civilization went hand in hand. He wrote:
Missionaries of excellent moral character, should be appointed to reside in their nations, who should be well supplied with all the implements of husbandry, and the necessary stock for a farm. .. . They should be friends and fathers.
Such a plan, although it might not fully effect the civilization of the Indians, would most probably be attended with the salutary effect of attaching them to the interest of the United States. (4)
The American Board worked closely with the government in establishing the Brainerd mission to the Cherokee in Chickamauga, Tennessee, in 1817. Cyrus Kingsbury opened the work with the tribe’s consent. The government built a schoolhouse and a home for a teacher, which also boarded Indian youth. Two plows, six hoes, and six axes were provided initially. A similar plan for girls was launched with spinning and weaving equipment. An annual report from the mission to the Secretary of War was required. Congress appropriated the funds for the work on the basis that, as one of its committees wrote, “the sons of the forest should be moralized or exterminated.” (5)
In 1819 Congress passed a bill providing for a “Civilization Fund.” This statement of public policy provided the basis for government and church cooperation until 1873. Although the major denominations might differ in doctrine, they could enter into a partnership with the government to “civilize” the Indians. The government benefited, because the churches paid the salaries of the missionaries and, more important, provided dedicated personnel.
Government resources greatly extended the scope of mission activity. Kingsbury moved on from the Cherokee mission to the Choctaw. He proposed that the government fund four large schools and thirty-two small ones, a fourth of each to be located west of the Mississippi. The large schools would accommodate eighty to one hundred scholars; the small ones, twenty to forty. The government never funded all the schools, but their numbers increased as rapidly as the American Board found funds and government monies were appropriated.
For the most part government and church mission policy was congruent in the first twenty-five years of the nineteenth century. The westward movement of Americans, however, gave rise to a clamor for the removal of tribes settled near expanding frontier communities. On the question of removal, a minority of the missionaries spoke in behalf of Indian rights. The American Board took the leadership in opposing the removal of the Cherokee in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. Although the Cherokee had fought with Andrew Jackson against the Creek and the British in 1814—15, they found him no friend when he became President, in 1829. The Cherokee had made remarkable progress in self-government and in literary and economic development. In 1827 they adopted a constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution. This act incensed the state of Georgia, which claimed jurisdiction over Cherokee lands. It clamored for removal of the tribe and blamed the missionaries for insisting on tribal rights. Jeremiah Evarts, chief executive officer of the American Board, proved a powerful advocate for the Cherokee. He
wrote eloquently in their behalf in the press of the day. The Cherokee had powerful friends in government, especially in New England, where liberals like Ralph Waldo Emerson opposed their removal. But the political tides were too strong, and the Removal Act was passed by Jackson’s administration in May 1830.
Five missionaries — two from the American Board, one Moravian, and two Methodists — refused to take the oath of allegiance to the state of Georgia against the Cherokee. They were arrested and publicly maligned. All but the two American Board missionaries, Samuel Worcester and Elizur Butler, were eventually released. These two men were sentenced to four years of hard labor, but the American Board stood behind them by taking the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor in 1832. The governor of Georgia offered a pardon. Rather than accept the pardon, they were counseled by the Board to withdraw the case from further prosecution.
Even though the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the Cherokee as a sovereign nation, President Jackson refused to enforce the law. He said, “John Marshall has pronounced his judgment; let him enforce it if he can."(6) Such was the political climate of the day.
MISSION TO THE DAKOTAS
Work with the Cherokee, Choctaw, and other civilized tribes was phased out reluctantly by the American Board in the 1830s because of the removal of these tribes to land west of the Mississippi and because of the general disarray of these tribes’ existence. The mainstream of mission activities moved to Minnesota and focused on the Sioux, who called themselves Dakotas. Sioux was a Chippewa word meaning snake or enemy; Dakota stood for friend, ally.
Thomas Williamson, a Presbyterian, was sent to the Dakotas by the American Board, in 1835. In these years the American Board was supported by Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Williamson was joined shortly by Stephen and Mary Riggs. Both these families were to collaborate in long careers with the Sioux. Riggs became an eminent scholar in the Sioux language, publishing a grammar and a dictionary in 1852. He and Williamson translated the Bible, which was published by the American Bible Society.
The Riggses first worked in missions along the Minnesota River, where the Sioux were congregated after cession of large amounts of Minnesota land to the United States. The Riggses felt that civilization and Christianization were “Siamese twins” in mission strategy and set out to reform Indian life. In appraising their work a contemporary scholar describes the difficulties they encountered:
Persons of mixed blood and women tended to convert almost easily, the former because of their already ambivalent status in Indian society, and the latter because the missionaries did not require a major dress and role change. In the case of males, a convert was required to dress in an alien fashion
(Western clothes) and to do work relegated to women (in the Indian’s eyes). This was no subtle change.. .. Unconverted tribesmen quite correctly viewed the whole civilization-Christianization approach as a threat to their way of life. They retaliated against converts and missionaries with such measures as ostracism, threats, cattle killing, and destruction of property. (7)
In 1862 American Board mission activity was disrupted by the Sioux uprising in Minnesota. The Lincoln administration, distracted by the Civil War, had not come through with promises of food for the 1861—62 winter. In waiting for their grants from the government, the Sioux had neglected their hunting. After a winter of great privation the warriors took supplies from government storehouses and killed several soldiers. This action ignited feelings on both sides. About 700 white settlers were killed. Indian losses were also large. Although they took many captives, the Sioux did not have the resources of the army to sustain prolonged conflict. Some of the Sioux fled to Canada. Fifteen hundred were rounded up as prisoners and three hundred were condemned to death. President Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but thirty-eight warriors, who were hanged.
The Riggses and their colleagues lived through this dangerous time with the help of new converts, such as Simon Anawangmane (Walks Galloping On), who rescued white mission personnel after their capture. More than twenty years before, Anawangmane was the first full blood to convert to Christianity. He withstood the taunts of proud Dakota braves, who reminded him that his church was made up of women. Anawangmane adopted Western dress and turned from the hunt to agriculture.
In the Riggses’ account of the mission one senses the heroism of Sioux converts. Artemas Ehnamane, who became pastor of Pilgrim Church at Santee, Nebraska, had been a fine hunter and was the son of a war prophet. Before his death his father had said, “The white man is coming into this country, and your children may learn to read. But promise me that you will never leave the religion of your ancestors." (8) Ehnamane promised but reneged because “his gods were worsted by the white man’s God” in the great Sioux uprising. So he believed.
The mission work had a genuine vitality among the Sioux. Eight congregations had been formed by 1871, led principally by native pastors in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory. In that year the Word Carrier (Iapi Oaye) was published and became important to the Dakota people. It was a four-page newspaper, with a motto in Dakota: “To help what is good, to oppose what is bad.”
The Santee Normal School, on the Missouri River near Yankton, was opened in 1870 by Alfred Riggs, a son of Stephen and Mary Riggs. American Board support continued for the school through 1883, when the American Missionary Association took over. In the 1880s as many as two hundred students were enrolled yearly. A standard curriculum of reading, writing, and arithmetic was supplemented by industrial arts training and Christian education. Much of the instructing was done in Dakota, in contrast to other schools, where English was insisted on. Graduates were expected to return to their tribes in leadership roles.
The Dakota Home for Girls was started on the Santee campus in 1872. Its central purpose was the training of future homemakers: “They learn to cook and wash, sew and cut garments, weave, knit, milk, make butter, make beds, sweep floors, and anything else pertaining to housekeeping, and they can make good bread.(9)
Theological education was organized at the Santee School during this period. Native pastors had asked for it. A short course of four weeks was devised in “Bible geography and history, in the main doctrines of the Christian faith, in the best methods of teaching Bible truth, [and in] the founding and growth of the Christian church.” (10) The school was finally closed in the late 1930s.
The Fort Berthold Reservation mission, in North Dakota, was begun by Charles Hall, who was ordained in the South Dakota mission at Yankton, in 1876. He had served a new non-Indian church at Springfield, South Dakota immediately preceding his decision to go to Fort Berthold. He had met his bride, Emma Calhoun, in the congregation. After Hall’s ordination the Word Carrier extended the right hand of fellowship, saying as the couple departed, “They must be part of us. They will, in fact, form a part of the Dakota Mission.... Go and plant the standard of the cross on Ft. Berthold.... You will entreat the Holy Spirit to beget in the Hidatsa and Ree and Mandan people a soul-hunger that can only be satisfied by the Bread and Water of Life.” (11)
Charles Hall was born in England, in 1847. He was educated at City College and Union Seminary in New York and at Andover Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. The Halls’s mission efforts were begun at Like-a-Fish-Hook village on the Missouri River. The chiefs of the three affiliated tribes — Son of the Star, Crows Breast, and Red Cow — deeded the mission sufficient land for its work and promised to “protect the American Board and their Missionaries in their rights.” (12)
Hall worked in English, loved to sing Indian lyrics, and was called Ho Washte, or Good Voice. He did not develop indigenous ordained church leadership and used Indian people as helpers in both church and secular work. The mission developed slowly, and nine years elapsed before Hall organized the first church at Arickara, in 1885.
MISSION TO THE WINNEBAGO
The nineteenth-century story of the Winnebago is a tale of broken treaties between these ancient residents of Wisconsin and the federal government. The Winnebago were removed to locations west of the Mississippi in the 1830s, but many returned to central Wisconsin in the decades that followed. By the 1870s they were permitted forty-acre homesteads in the sandy pinelands.
The German Reformed Church in Wisconsin began its mission with the Winnebago near Black River Falls, in 1878. Henry Kurtz, a Mission House College (13) professor, had been saved from
freezing to death by neighboring Indians. The Sheboygan Classis raised funds to support a missionary to bring “the Gospel also to the heathen living in our own land, the Indians; this duty, alas, we have too long neglected.” (14)
Jacob Hauser, who had been a missionary in India, began the Black River Falls mission. His work was legitimized at the lodge of the great chief Blackhawk, who said, “The words you have spoken are good. We also believe in Earthmaker. We love our children. It will make us glad to see them well taught. We are glad that you have come.” (15)
Hauser opened a school in a log building the tribe had erected. He had major difficulties because he did not know the Winnebago language, but he learned it slowly in working with the children and calling in the homes and developed a vocabulary of about 1,500 words. Before his retirement, in 1885, a chapel was built to enlarge the school facilities.
Jacob Stucki joined the mission in 1884 as Hauser’s assistant. Born in Switzerland, he came to Toledo, Ohio as a boy of sixteen, where he found the life of the Reformed Church challenging. He attended Mission House College and Seminary, in Wisconsin, and with his bride, Rachel, took over the work when Hauser retired.
MISSION DEVELOPMENT AFTER 1890
Outstanding missionaries among the Sioux were Thomas and Alfred Riggs, sons of pioneers Stephen and Mary. While Alfred concentrated his work at the Santee Normal School, Thomas ranged over Indian country. He founded missions with the Teton Sioux and their many bands, progenitors of today’s Dakota Association. A graduate of Beloit College and Chicago Theological Seminary, Thomas lived with the Teton and knew their life in the declining years of their existence on tribal lands.
On the Standing Rock, Cheyenne, and Rosebud reservations young Indian leaders responded to the missionaries. Often several men in a family became pastors and community figures. The Tibbits and Frazier families were eminent in South Dakota. Arthur Tibbits became the native pastor at Cannon Ball, North Dakota. His son and daughter-in-law, Percy and Emma (Frazier) Tibbits, carried on the work on the Standing Rock reservation and at the Rapid City Indian Center under the sponsorship of the National Council of Churches. Philip Frazier attended Oberlin College and Chicago Theological Seminary and returned to South Dakota for his pastorates. He was elected to head the Dakota Mission in 1932, the first Indian to hold such a position.
Harold and Eva Case came to the Fort Berthold Mission in 1922. They were friends of Charles Hall’s son, Robert, who encouraged them to take over the Fort Berthold work. With eastern roots, Harold Case had gone into YMCA work and settled in Denver. He and Eva decided to go to Fort Berthold for one year and ended up staying for the remainder of their careers!
The Cases were genuine Christian friends to the Affiliated Tribes in troublous times — the depression of the 30s, the drought years, the uprootings of World War II, and perhaps most difficult of all, the erection of Garrison Dam. This dam, built on the Missouri River, flooded Fort Berthold, forcing people from their historic lands. The tribes were moved to higher grounds and separated by Lake Sakakawea. The Cases were indefatigable in church and community development. They advocated good schools, organized public health programs, assisted in forming libraries and cooperative laundries. They even pioneered in silent movies with portable electric power.
The Cases were proudest of the achievements of young Indian people. Emerging in their time was Robert Fox, who attended the mission school at Fort Berthold, Santee, and Cook Christian Training School, in Arizona. He served as pastor at Twin Buttes, Halliday, and his home church, Arickara. Always interested in public affairs, Fox became tribal chairman. Other Indian leaders were Ina Beauchamp Hall, elected North Dakota Mother of the Year in 1969, and the Walkers — Hans Jr., Melvin, and Tillie — who were educated for professional careers.
A similar mission development was occurring in Wisconsin. John Stacy, a young Winnebago, was challenged to Christian ministry and was one of the first four Winnebago baptized, in 1898. He had worked closely with Jacob Stucki in translating important parts of the Bible, and this translation appeared in 1907, an issue of the American Bible Society. The work was no little accomplishment because of the extreme complexity of the Winnebago language.
Mission work and church life were slow in developing because of the Winnebago style of ostracism of Christians. Stacy’s children were taken by his father, a traditionalist, when Stacy declared his faith. His mother-in-law threatened to poison him and did not speak to him for years, although she was provided living space on the Stacy farm. Yet Stacy, his wife, and her brother, King of Thunder, persisted in their Christian profession and eventually won the grudging respect of the tribe. More converts joined the mission, and the Winnebago Indian Mission Church was organized, in 1922. Through the years the Indian School, supported by the Sheboygan Classis, gained acceptance by the tribe. In 1917 its support was turned over to the Reformed Church, and in 1928 the national Women’s Missionary Society provided gifts for its expansion.
Benjamin Stucki, Jacob’s son, fell heir to his father’s work. Growing up among the Winnebago, he spoke their language and knew the tribe intimately. He directed the work of the Indian school and became the church’s pastor in the early 1930s. In 1942 he was adopted into the tribe as Najkehunka — Chief in Heart — one who had demonstrated a love for the people.
Mitchell Whiterabbit grew up through the church and mission school. Having attended Mission House College, in Wisconsin, and Lancaster Seminary, in Pennsylvania, and been ordained in 1945, he became the Mission Church’s pastor and served the community and Indian cause in Wisconsin with distinction. As tribal chairman, he was able to provide leadership in the 1960s, when the Winnebago won tribal recognition from the government.
BEYOND WHITE PATERNALISM
In a sense the enumeration of Indian achievements can be a form of white paternalism. It implies that what was common for non-Indians was special achievement for Indians. An awareness of this condescension helped prepare white leaders for the l960s. As this decade dawned three important streams came together: The white leaders discovered the racism in the church’s mission; the young Indian leaders brought up through the church’s ministry agreed with them; and the United Church of Christ became a reality.
Galen Weaver pioneered in recognizing white racism in Indian mission terms. He developed Indian leaders through the United Scholarship Service, a program that provided a ferment that raised fundamental questions about decision making in the church’s mission. Indian leaders spoke of self-determination, a human rights concern. Wesley Hotchkiss of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM) had written an important position paper on the relation of Christ to culture, in 1958. He spelled out the implications of H. Richard Niebuhr’s seminal work as to how the Christian faith should approach a culture: “The churches were really out to destroy the Indian culture although they proposed to do it in a most beneficent manner and under the guise of doing good for the Indian. Christ was against culture in this presupposition.” (16)
Hotchkiss called for an approach in which Christ is seen as a transformer of culture, the whites’ as well as the Indians’. All cultures could find fulfillment in Christ from the injustices they embody. This mission stance related anthropology to theology in a creative way. It saw mission with Indian people as a two-way bridge: missionaries able to learn from tribal life and religions while proclaiming the gospel. Hotchkiss lamented that Indian religion and culture were so devastated from Western contacts and that this new approach would not be simple or easy.
Mission workers struggled with the concept of ‘‘mission with” rather than “mission to” Indian people. In 1964 I was liaison between the Board, the conferences, and the Indian churches, assembled at Aberdeen, South Dakota, a major Consultation on a mission strategy for the remainder of the decade. All facets of Indian work were represented. The Consultation spoke to the denomination in saying: “The Church . . . is a People of compassion. . . . The United Church seeks to use skilled staff in its mission. . . . [It must be] . . increasingly guided by Indian people. .. . The cultural gap between white and Indian people is still large.” (17)
Understanding the human misery in Indian homes and communities, the Consultation sought sensitively to guide the limited resources of the church into the work with children and youth. The leaders held that major social welfare loads were the government’s responsibility, A group home for high school dropouts was recommended for North Dakota. The outgrowth was the Charles Hall Youth Services. A group home was recommended for Pierre, South Dakota. The merits of the Winnebago Children’s Home were recognized.
The Consultation noted the migration of Indian people to urban centers and recommended that the United Church work ecumenically in ministering to Indians in the city.
COUNCIL FOR AMERICAN INDIAN MINISTRY
The ferment for self-determination in both Indian and white thinking bore fruit in the formation of the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM), in 1970. After a historic style of dominantly white decision making the mission was turned over to Indian people for shaping of basic policy. The UCBHM took the leadership in this step. Bylaws were drawn that made CAIM a nonprofit corporation in the state of North Dakota. Representatives were provided for from the three Indian associations — North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In addition, youth and urban members were added to the board of directors.
CAIM began its work on January 1, 1971. Robert Fox was chosen as the first executive director, with Juanita Helphrey, from Bismarck, North Dakota, as assistant director. CAIM’s task was many fold: to provide counsel to the reservation churches; to distribute the funds from the United Church to churches and other projects on and off the reservations that made claims on them; to relate the United Church of Christ mission to those of other denominations; and to interpret the ministry to the church at large.
In 1971 General Synod VIII increased the funding for the mission by designating an American Indian Sunday offering to be transmitted by the Executive Council to CAIM. CAIM was to report to the Executive Council regarding its ministries. In June 1974 I observed:
The reservation people would prefer to deal with the BHM for their funding rather than with CAIM. This is true of South Dakota [the Dakota Association had withdrawn from CAIM] and Wisconsin. North Dakota has more confidence in CAIM because the office is located in Bismarck and the staff is Fort Berthold people.... They see the value in a Council which has some decision-making power even though it is expensive." (18)
Non-Indian leaders in the mission were disillusioned with CAIM and probably too impatient with its difficulties. Native Americans were not adequately trained in decision making or accountability. A new set of problems faced the United Church.
General Synod X approved part of the Neighbors in Need offering as support for CAIM in lieu of American Indian Sunday and created a Strategy Assessment Team to recommend long-term Indian mission policy. The team was composed of Mitchell Whiterabbit as chairperson, Robert Fox, Carol Little Wounded, Beth Thunder Cloud, and Carol Boney, with Norman Jackson and myself as staff consultants. It reported to General Synod XI and recommended that “CAIM [be] an agency of the United Church of Christ,” with four priorities for the foreseeable future:
1. The Indian congregations ... shall be the top priority for CAlM....
2. General leadership training for pastors and lay leaders of Indian congregations [be supported] through the Native American Theological Association. ...
3. Urban and conference ministries [be funded] ... such as establishing a new Indian congregation in an urban area....
4. Involve[ment] in the struggles for justice and development for Native Americans . . . in public issues. (19)
NATIVE LEADERSHIP AND NATIVE THEOLOGY
CAIM and the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities had taken an active role in creating the Native American Theological Association (NATA). The ecumenical effort grew out of extensive research at Cook Christian Training School regarding the leadership crisis in native churches. With Lilly Foundation help and Howard Anderson as executive director, NATA was launched. It sought to engage Native Americans and whites in serious theological dialogue in order to impact seminary curricula. It also commissioned courses for native students and a system of theological education by extension in which the seminary was taken to local reservation churches. NATA recruited students and raised funds for scholarships.
This development has caused denominations to rethink their non-Indian standards for the ordination of Native Americans.
After serving NATA for five years Anderson wrote: “NATA is far more successful, despite its failings, than it has any human right to be. Only the Holy Spirit could be guiding NATA to this success.” (20) He warned, however, that a major threat to NATA is, and would be in the future, a denominationalism that would fail to invest adequately in training native church leaders.
The importance of NATA for the native church cannot be overstated. At long last theological leaders are reexamining the Christian gospel in native terms. After analyzing this mission in terms of the Dakota people, Donald Gall, part Sioux and current UCBHM liaison in Indian ministry, holds that the white missionaries expected acculturation among his people; they failed to see how deeply rooted the Dakota culture was. Unable to accept Western ways, the Dakotas felt the gospel was part of the white people’s church and held it at arms’ length. Gall argues that the whites took this stance because of an unjustifiable identification of the Christian faith with their own European culture. White missionaries could not distance themselves from the assumptions of the white society, which assumed that Native Americans were “heathen, pagans or savages.” These views were ingrained in the myths of white society regarding Native Americans. Gall writes:
But what was really on the table at that first Thanksgiving besides venison and turkey? The other menu was the question of human nature, the understanding of humanity’s relationship to the natural world, the process of knowledge, the meaning of creation and the use of symbols for communication. The Wampanoags had assumptions and beliefs about all these subjects, as did the Pilgrims, but they were unable to communicate with each other. It was such a disastrous failure of communication that within a few years they were in a life and death struggle with each other for living space. That struggle continued for more that two and a half centuries, and resulted in a decimated and demoralized Indian population which has ever since suffered the effects of cultural and religious genocide. (21)
The gospel emerged from tragedy. Can it do the same in Native American missions if both white and Indian persons recognize the unique gifts of all in Christ? Such an expression of hope is the All Nations Indian Church, which was founded in 1981, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. At the first service Avery Post, president of the United Church of Christ, noted the significance in this congregation’s joining the United Church family:
Thanks be to God for the faith and commitments of the people gathered for the first service of worship of All Nations Indian United Church of Christ. The whole family of the United Church of Christ greets you and prays for your life and mission. We rejoice in your unique gifts in the service of the gospel of peace, justice, and new life. (22)
1. In Amelia Bingham, Mashpee: Land of the Wampanoags (Mashpee, MA: Mashpee Historical Society, 1970), p. 9.
2. R. Pierce Beaver, Church, State and the American Indians (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1966), p. 6.
3. R. Pierce Beaver, Pioneers in Mission (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966), p. 212.
4. In Beaver, Church, State and the American Indians, op. cit., p. 64.
5. Ibid., p. 67.
6. Ibid., p. 113.
7. Jon Willand, introduction to 1969 edition, Stephen Riggs, Mary and I: Forty Years with the Sioux (Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society, 1880; reprint; Ross and Haines, Inc., 1969), p. xii.
8. Riggs, Mary and I, op. cit., p. 283.
9. Ibid., p. 313.
10. Ibid., p. 312.
11. Ibid., p. 315.
12. Harold and Eva Case, 100 Years at Fort Berthold (Bismarck, SD: Bismarck Tribune, 1977), introductory page.
13. Mission House College and Seminary was started by German Reformed people to prepare pastors for their churches. Today its work is continued at Lakeland, College, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
14. Arthur V. Casselman, The Winnebago Finds a Friend (St. Louis: Heidelberg Press, 1944), p. 60. A classis is comparable to an association in the UCC today.
15. Ibid., p. 63.
16. Wesley A. Hotchkiss, Some Presuppositions in the Work of the Church Among American Indians (Minneapolis: United Church Indian Work Consultation, 1958), p. 1.
17. Serge F. Hummon, Mission to Indian Americans, United Church of Christ, Aberdeen Report and Mission Strategy: 1965—1970, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, 1964.
18. Serge F. Hummon, The Present Situation: A Working Paper, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, 1974, p. 1.
19. Minutes of the Eleventh General Synod, United Church of Christ, 1977, pp. 79—80.
20. Howard Anderson, “NATA After Five Years: The Executive Director’s Perspective,” NATA, vol. 3, no. 1 (1982), p. 3.
21. Donald A. Gall, Marginal Religion Among the Lakota Sioux: A Study of Conflict in Values and the Indian Mission of the United Church of Christ, Eden Theological Seminary, 1982.
22. All Nations Indian Church, UCC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, vol. 1, no. 1. (1981), p. 2.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to David Schoen (email@example.com) 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.
In 1975, the United Church of Christ honored two clergywomen with the first Antoinette Brown Award, celebrating the life and ministry of the first woman ordained into Christian ministry since biblical times as well as the lives and ministries of UCC clergywomen who exemplify Brown’s spirit of trailblazing leadership in church and society.
Forty years later, the pathways are considerably widened for women in ministry in the UCC, but there are still necessarily pioneers and innovators in our midst, women who lead in extraordinary ways and who make possible other women’s ministries. From “now until January 15, 2019, we invite your nominations of trailblazers (UCC clergywomen who honor Antoinette Brown’s vision of women in leadership in church and society) as well as catalysts (collectives, projects, congregations, or organizations that serve as provocative spaces that advance women in ministry) below. Alternatively, you can download the form. Honorees will be celebrated at General Synod 32 in Milwaukee in June 2019.
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.
The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, author and theologian, currently serves as ninth General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
John began his ministry serving First Congregational United Church of Christ and Zion United Church of Christ in rural Missouri. He then served as Associate Conference Minister in the Missouri Mid-South Conference, and then Conference Minister of the Southwest Conference of the UCC prior to his election as General Minister and President.
Dorhauer received a B.A. in Philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College (1983), and has a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (1988), the same year John was ordained in the United Church of Christ. John received a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary (2004); his area of focus -- white privilege and its effects on the church.
With a personal theology shaped in the passionate conviction that God is love and God is just, John has embodied the United Church of Christ’s vision of “A Just World for All” throughout his ministry. On October 17, 2014, Dorhauer conducted the first legal same sex wedding in the state of Arizona when he performed the wedding service of David Laurence and Kevin Patterson.
In his first term as General Minister and President, recognizing increasing sensitivities in this country around race, John initiated the collaborative creation of a curriculum, “White Privilege: Let’s Talk – A Resource for Transformational Dialogue”. Designed to invite UCC members and others to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race, the curriculum and accompanying facilitator’s guide have been used by both UCC and non-UCC audiences.
In addition, John has partnered with the UCC Board of Directors in providing oversight for the articulation of the denomination’s statements of Purpose, Vision and Mission – critical elements for the UCC’s evolving organizational strategy. To activate the new vision, John invited the denomination’s participation in a collective biennial mission initiative, Three Great Loves. In partnership with the UCC Board of Directors – and informed with responses from across the church to the question “what does a transformative UCC need to be in ten years?”-- John has called the church to accomplish essential strategic priorities over the next 10 years to position the church for a transformative future. These include attaining inclusive excellence, developing robust technology infrastructure that benefits every expression of the church, curriculum and training towards “A Just World for All”, strategic organizational alignment consistent with purpose, vision and mission, and platforms to foster and encourage innovative church.
The Shaping Our Future Campaign has been launched to generate $4 million in new philanthropic support for marketing, technology and leadership development programs critical to the health and vitality of every expression of the church. More recently, recognizing a need for thought leadership to consider, inform and shape our responsibility for lifelong, cradle-to-the-grave theological formation, John called for a summit on theological formation, From the Ground Up, which was launched in spring 2018. At present, his focus is on re-establishing the primacy of the Local Church and the mutuality of relationship amongst the expressions of the church, undertaking an assessment of the denomination’s assets devoted to resourcing local church ministry relative to the needs of the local church, and operationalizing the alignment of the national setting consistent with the newly established strategic priorities for the UCC.
John now serves as Vice-Chair of the National Council of Churches (NCC), and has co-chaired the NCC’s United to End Racism campaign. He has been identified by the Center for American Progress as one of the religious leaders to watch for in 2017.
John insists that the Holy Spirit envisions a future in which the United Church of Christ matters. He is calling on the denomination to rethink itself and to consider new ways of being church in light of institutional religion’s changing landscape and emerging shifts in the generational populations – believing that an emergent church is already coming alongside the institutional church. John’s book Beyond Resistance: the Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World is a call to the body of Christ to accept what the Spirit of the Risen Christ is doing to birth something new, vital, and relevant – all towards nurturing Beloved Community. .
If you are a member of the press and would like to schedule an interview with Rev. Traci Blackmon, please contact:
Connie Larkman, News Director
For all other inquiries, please contact:
Donyale Copeland, Executive Assistant
Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.
Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal
Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for 9 years, prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 162-year history of Christ The King United Church of Christ. A registered nurse with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, Rev. Blackmon's clinical focus was cardiac care and in later years her focus shifted to mobile healthcare in underserved communities with the greatest health disparities in her region. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Birmingham - Southern College (1985), and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (2009).
As pastor, Rev. Blackmon leads Christ The King in an expanded understanding of church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change. This ethos has led to a tripling of both membership and worship attendance over the last seven years, expanding membership engagement opportunities, and the establishment of community outreach programs. Community programming includes a computer lab, tutoring, continuing education classes, summer programming, a robotics team, children's library and girls' mentoring program, all housed in the church.
Regionally, Rev. Blackmon's signature initiatives have included Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit, a mobile faith-based outreach program she designed to impact health outcomes in impoverished areas. Sacred Conversations on Solomon’s Porch, quarterly clergy in-services designed to equip local clergy to assess physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health concerns within congregational life, Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational health symposium for women and girls, and Souls to the Polls STL, an ecumenical, multi-faith collaborative that was successful in providing over 2,800 additional rides to the polls during local and national elections.
A featured voice with many regional, national, and international media outlets and a frequent contributor to print publications, Rev. Blackmon's communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson, MO has gained her both national and international recognition and audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican. She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay
Nixon and to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack H. Obama. Rev. Blackmon co-authored the White Privilege curriculum for the United Church of Christ and toured the nation with Rev. Dr. William Barber of Moral Mondays and Repairer of the Breech, Rev. Dr. James Forbes of The Drum Major Institute and pastor emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York, and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus proclaiming the need for a Moral Revival in this nation.
Rev. Blackmon is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis and currently serves on the boards of The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary, and WomanPreach! Rev. Blackmon is a co-author of the newly released White Privilege curriculum through the United Church of Christ and has received several awards and recognitions, inclusive of:
• The White House President’s Volunteer Service Award
• The St. Louis American Stellar Award
• 2015 Ebony Magazine Power 100
• Deluxe Magazine Power 100
• St. Louis University - Community Leader of the Year
• 100 Black Men of St. Louis Community Leader of the Year
• The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist - Drum Major Award
• NAACP - Rosa Parks Award
• Rosa Parks Award - United Trade Unionist
• The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis Woman in Leadership Award
• National Planned Parenthood Faith Leader Award
• The United Church of Christ - Antoinette Brown Leadership Award
• Honorary Doctorate, Eden Theological Seminary
Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and was named 2017 Citizen of the Year by The St. Louis American and as one of St. Louis' 100 most influential voices. Rev. Blackmon is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon, Harold II, and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.
If you are a member of the press and would like to schedule an interview with Rev. Traci Blackmon, please contact:
Connie Larkman, News Director
For all other inquiries, please contact:
Denise Pittman, Executive Assistant
The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson is the United Church of Christ’s Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries and Operations with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is an inspiring preacher and theologian, who shares her skills and gifts in a variety of settings nationally and internationally, often using her poetry as a part of her ministry.
Rev. Thompson served in the national setting of the United Church of Christ for 10 years – two years as Minister for Racial Justice and 8 years as Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. She led the UCC’s Sacred Conversations on Race, facilitating trainings and workshops across the life of the denomination for congregations and conferences. Her passion moved her work on behalf of the UCC into a global context, affording the opportunity to participate globally in efforts to reduce the marginalization experienced by African descendant peoples and other communities globally.
Before joining the national staff, Karen Georgia served in the Florida Conference United Church of Christ as a Pastor and on the Conference staff as the Minister for Disaster Response and Recovery. She also worked in the nonprofit arena for over 10 years in senior leaderships positions.
Karen Georgia earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in New York, a Master’s in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She also studied Public Policy at Duke University and earned her Doctorate in Ministry at Seattle University.
If you are a member of the press and would like to schedule an interview with Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, please contact:
Connie Larkman, News Director
For all other inquiries, please contact:
Linda Long, Executive Assistant
Presidents and General Minister and Presidents
Fred Hoskins & James E. Wagner – Co-Presidents (1957-1961)
Ben M. Herbster – President (1961-1969)
Robert V. Moss – President (1969-1976)
Joseph H. Evans – President (1976-1977)
Avery D. Post – President (1977-1989)
Paul H. Sherry – President (1989-1999)
John H. Thomas – General Minister and President (1999-2010)
Geoffrey A. Black – General Minister and President (2010-2015)
John C. Dorhauer – General Minister and President (2015-Present)
The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. Each of these was, in turn, the result of a union of two earlier traditions.
The Congregational Churches were organized when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation (1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629) acknowledged their essential unity in the Cambridge Platform of 1648.
The Reformed Church in the United States traced its beginnings to congregations of German settlers in Pennsylvania founded from 1725 on. Later, its ranks were swelled by Reformed immigrants from Switzerland, Hungary and other countries.
The Christian Churches sprang up in the late 1700s and early 1800s in reaction to the theological and organizational rigidity of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches of the time.
The Evangelical Synod of North America traced its beginnings to an association of German Evangelical pastors in Missouri. This association, founded in 1841, reflected the 1817 union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany.
Through the years, other groups such as American Indians, Afro-Christians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Volga Germans, Armenians, and Hispanic Americans have joined with the four earlier groups. In recent years, Christians from other traditions, including the Roman Catholic Church, have found a home in the UCC, and so have gay and lesbian Christians who have not been welcome in other churches. Thus the United Church of Christ celebrates and continues a broad variety of traditions in its common life.
Characteristics of the United Church of Christ
The characteristics of the United Church of Christ can be summarized in part by the key words in the names that formed our union: Christian, Reformed, Congregational, Evangelical.
Christian. By our very name, the United Church of Christ, we declare ourselves to be part of the Body of Christ—the Christian church. We continue the witness of the early disciples to the reality and power of the crucified and risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
Reformed. All four denominations arose from the tradition of the Protestant Reformers: We confess the authority of one God. We affirm the primacy of the Scriptures, the doctrine of justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the principle of Christian freedom. We celebrate two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper (also called Holy Communion or the Eucharist).
Congregational. The basic unit of the United Church of Christ is the congregation. Members of each congregation covenant with one another and with God as revealed in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These congregations, in turn, exist in covenantal relationships with one another to form larger structures for more effective work. Our covenanting emphasizes trustful relationships rather than legal agreements.
Evangelical. The primary task of the church is the proclamation of the Gospel or (in Greek) evangel. The Gospel literally means the "Good News" of God's love revealed with power in Jesus Christ. We proclaim this Gospel by word and deed to individual persons and to society. This proclamation is the heart of the leiturgia—in Greek, the "work of the people" in daily and Sunday worship. We gather for the worship of God, and through each week, we engage in the service of humankind.
What we believe
We can tell you more about the United Church of Christ with the help of seven phrases from Scripture and Tradition which express our commitments.
That they may all be one. [John 17:21] This motto of the United Church of Christ reflects the spirit of unity on which it is based and points toward future efforts to heal the divisions in the body of Christ. We are a uniting church as well as a united church.
In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity. The unity that we seek requires neither an uncritical acceptance of any point of view, nor rigid formulation of doctrine. It does require mutual understanding and agreement as to which aspects of the Christian faith and life are essential.
The unity of the church is not of its own making. It is a gift of God. But expressions of that unity are as diverse as there are individuals. The common thread that runs through all is love.
Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith. Because faith can be expressed in many different ways, the United Church of Christ has no formula that is a test of faith. Down through the centuries, however, Christians have shared their faith with one another through creeds, confessions, catechisms and other statements of faith. Historic statements such as the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform and the Kansas City Statement of Faith are valued in our church as authentic testimonies of faith. [See Beliefs for the complete texts of some of these testimonies.] In 1959, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a Statement of Faith prepared especially for congregations of the United Church. Many of us use this statement as a common affirmation of faith in worship and as a basis for study.
There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God's holy word. This affirmation by one of the founders of the Congregational tradition assumes the primacy of the Bible as a source for understanding the Good News and as a foundation for all statements of faith. It recognizes that the Bible, though written in specific historical times and places, still speaks to us in our present condition. It declares that the study of the scriptures is not limited by past interpretations, but it is pursued with the expectation of new insights and God's help for living today.
The Priesthood of All Believers. All members of the United Church of Christ are called to minister to others and to participate as equals in the common worship of God, each with direct access to the mercies of God through personal prayer and devotion.
Recognition is given to those among us who have received special training in pastoral, priestly, educational and administrative functions, but these persons are regarded as servants—rather than as persons in authority. Their task is to guide, to instruct, to enable the ministry of all Christians rather than to do the work of ministry for us.
Responsible Freedom. As individual members of the Body of Christ, we are free to believe and act in accordance with our perception of God's will for our lives. But we are called to live in a loving, covenantal relationship with one another—gathering in communities of faith, congregations of believers, local churches.
Each congregation or local church is free to act in accordance with the collective decision of its members, guided by the working of the Spirit in the light of the scriptures. But it also is called to live in a covenantal relationship with other congregations for the sharing of insights and for cooperative action under the authority of Christ.
Likewise, associations of churches, conferences, the General Synod and the churchwide "covenanted ministries" of the United Church of Christ are free to act in their particular spheres of responsibility. Yet all are constrained by love to live in a covenantal relationship with one another and with the local churches in order to make manifest the unity of the body of Christ and thus to carry out God's mission in the world more effectively.
The members, congregations, associations, conferences, General Synod, and covenanted ministries are free in relation to the world. We affirm that the authority of God as revealed in Jesus Christ and interpreted with the aid of the Holy Spirit stands above and judges all human culture, institutions and laws. But we recognize our calling both as individuals and as the church to live in the world:
To proclaim in word and action the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To work for reconciliation and the unity of the broken Body of Christ.
To seek justice and liberation for all.
This is the challenge of the United Church of Christ.
What is the United Church of Christ Archives?
What the UCC Archives Does:
- Collects, preserves, and provides access to the records of the UCC from around the time of the creating Union in 1957 onward.
- Acts as the office of records management for the national setting of the denomination.
- Provides guidance for how to manage current and historical records to all settings of the denomination.
What is in the UCC Archives:
The records, photographs, resources, and objects from around the time of the creating Union in 1957 onward.
A selection of a few of the vast resources include:
- Records from the national offices
- UCC Yearbooks
- General Synod Minutes
- Executive Council Minutes
- Resources developed by national offices
- Documentation about the formation of the UCC
- Records of projects and innitiatives
- Collections from national UCC organizations, committees, councils and groups
- Council for Health and Human Services
- UCC Historical Council
- Personal papers of people involved in the work of the national setting of the denomination
- Rev. Arthur Clyde's collection of hymnals
- Rev. Harold Wilke's papers documenting his work in the UCC
- Conference publications and newsletters
- Written histories of local churches, associations, conferences, and other UCC-related ministries
All documents are searchable by keyword, and are complete to present.
Partnerships with other Historical Organizations:
The UCC Archives works closely with other archives that hold the records of the denominations that united to form the UCC. Please visit the Historical Council page to find more information about those institutions.