UCC hosts ecumenical partners in historical gathering

The United Church of Christ National Setting in Cleveland hosted a partnership meeting with the United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on Nov. 28 and 29.

The three participating denominations are in full communion with each other, but this was the first time these denominations all met together for such a gathering. Considered “bilateral” relationships, previously these partnership meetings were held between only two denominations.

In preparation for the meeting, program staff in specified areas were convened to explore potential ways for the ecumenical partners to collaborate in ministry. Following the meeting, the Heads of Communion will determine which of these potential areas of collaboration will be pursued.

Ecumenical partners met at the National Setting of the UCC in Cleveland.

Notably, the Heads of Communion of the three denominations are of African descent, marking the first time this has occurred in the history of the partnerships.

Christian unity

The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, General Minister and President of the UCC, emphasized that this gathering was a special occasion.

“It was a pleasure for the United Church of Christ to host the first joint meeting between the United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),” she said. “There are bilateral full communion agreements between the pairing of denominations, however, we continue to explore what it means for these bilateral agreements to exist among these three close partners and the future possibilities for our collaboration. The UCC continues to hold our ecumenical engagements as a priority.”

At the conclusion of their time together, the partners gathered in the Meditation Space at the UCC headquarters to share in a time of Communion.

The Rev. Mark Pettis, ecumenical and interfaith relations minister for Wider Church Ministries, said, “As a denomination founded on the ideal of Christian unity, it is always good to be together with our partners. This year, having the opportunity to come together with leaders from the United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was truly wonderful as we explored how we might engage in ministry together as an expression of unity in the Body of Christ.”

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