As part of the New Beginnings process, the “Understanding” FOCUS group suggested the congregation do some study to deepen awareness of what it means to be a congregation within the United Church of Christ. So far we’ve had two sessions: UCC Theology and History, and the UCC and social issues. Below are a few of the main points from each session.
Session 1, UCC Theology and History
The United Church of Christ is part of the mainstream of the universal, historic Christian Church.
The United Church of Christ is composed of different Protestant theological traditions, primarily those stemming from the Reformed tradition.
The United Church of Christ is an ecumenical tradition.
Creeds are considered testimonies of faith, not tests of faith
All the traditions, which make up the UCC have emphasized Christian life & practice over statements of belief.
“In essentials, unity in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity”
Session 2, UCC and social issues
The UCC, along with every other church within the mainstream of Christianity is deeply involved in social and political issues. Why?
Bible: God is involved in history, humanity is made in the image of God and God is definitively revealed in Jesus Christ
Theology: God’s purposes are salvific, that is God is for the world (Jn. 3:16)
Ethics: God calls us to act justly and in-line with God’s purposes for creation.
Tradition: The church lives in the world & for the world. It has been involved in politics and social justice issues since its inception.
It’s important to note that there is no “official UCC position” on any social issue. Each local church of the UCC is autonomous — we live together in covenant. The General Synod of the church “speaks to, but not for” local churches.
Justice and just social relations are a central and primary theme of scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Jesus embodies justice in his life and work. A central theme of the gospel is that his disciples follow him on this path. See Matt. 7:24-27, Mk. 8:34, Lk. 9:1-2, Jn. 15:8.
Jesus describes the final judgment in terms of whether we respond to the poor and oppressed in a just manner. See Matt. 25:31-46 & Lk. 16:19-31.
Most importantly: Christian faith is not a choice between justice issues and personal faith in Jesus Christ – it must always include both. Efforts to create a dichotomy between the two should always be rejected. See Matt. 7:21-23.
Still Speaking God
“Still Speaking” refers to a UCC identity & evangelism campaign.
“Still Speaking” grows out of the Bible’s redundant claim that “Indeed the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sward.” (Heb. 4:12)
“Still Speaking” also grows out of our Reformed theological tradition. Reformed and always reforming in light of God’s Word was the rallying cry of the Reformation, particularly that branch associated with Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin.
For example, Rev. John Robinson’s admonition to the Pilgrims in the 1600s leaving for America. He said, “There is yet more light to break forth from God’s Holy Word.”