National United Church of Christ

United_Church_of_Christ_logoAlthough the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a denomination is not as traditionally hierarchical as the Roman Catholic, Episcopal/Anglican, or Lutheran churches, the history of the UCC is rooted deeply in the concept of “covenant”. In fact, the UCC’s national vision plan states: “In covenant with the church in all of its settings, we serve God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world as made manifest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” As such, UCC church members covenant with one another to live out their faith within an individual congregation. The congregation then covenants with other UCC congregations within an Association in order to work together as needed toward a common purpose. Associations live in a covenantal relationship within a conference, which exists in the same kind of relationship with all the other conferences that comprise the UCC.

The core values of the UCC are:

Continuing Testament
Our faith is 2000 years old. Our thinking is not. God is still speaking,

Extravagant Welcome
No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.

Changing Lives
Never place a period where God has placed a comma

If you would like to learn more about the United Church of Christ as a denomination, please click on the following link:  http://www.ucc.org

A very brief history of the United Church of Christ…

The United Church of Christ is comprised of four historical denominations with rich and unique histories. Congregationalism in the United States emerged when the Separatists and Puritans arrived in what is now Massachusetts during the first half of the 1600s. These pioneers were influenced by the theology of John Calvin and focused on covenant as a way to be together in community and in relationship with God. It was a key understanding in which the Puritans left Europe and arrived in “the New World.” The Puritans used this covenantal model in their colonies to live in covenant as an ideal Christian society. Their religious vision for their community also shaped the way that the early settlers understood and practiced government.

The Christian Church was originally formed in 1811 and was embodied by the phrase “No Creed but Christ.” A key component of the Christian Church is its commitment to ecumenism. Members came from a diversity of denominations and found common ground in their autonomy to worship freely, which created a sense of unity in diversity.

The German Reformed Church was rooted in the Palatinate region of Germany, where many of the Calvinist reformed people lived. In addition to Calvin, this group also looked to Zwingli and Luther as influencing their understanding of doctrine and Church. The sacrament of communion was central to their worship. Through studying the Heldelberg Catechism they were able to assert the holy mystery and mystical presence of Christ, as manifested through the eucharist, which placed doctrine as central to their faith and worship.

The Evangelical Synod was formed in the Pietistic movement in Germany. This movement began in the late 17th century and focussed on moral and spiritual reformation, emphasizing personal warmth and Christian experience. This was achieved when people came together for Bible study and worship, which involved the laity in a new way.

The creation of the United Church of Church first began when the Congregational and Christian churches, and then the Reform and Evangelical churches, developed a sense of unity and ecumenism that was emergent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Reform Church and Evangelical Synod came together in 1934 to form the Evangelical and Reform Church. The union blended the warm, experiential understanding of religion of the Evangelical Synod with the more orthodox and sacramental approach of the Reform Church.

The Congregational and Christian Churches also joined together during this period to form the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches. Conversations between the two churches had begun in the late 19th century, but were taken on in full in 1923 when a plan of union was created, and eventually implemented. These two churches shared a similar autonomous spirit and were organized in much the same way, making the union relatively straight forward.

Finally, the initial talks for a union of the Evangelical and Reformed and the Congregational Christian Churches began in 1943. This process culminated on June 25th, 1957 when the two churches joined to form the United Church of Christ.

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