What is the UCC?
The United Church of Christ (UCC) was formed in 1957 when the Congregational Christian Church joined with the Evangelical United Reformed Church. The United Church of Christ is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.
Why is the South Congregational affiliated with it?
All churches had the option to become part of the union or not. Before a vote was taken by each congregation, there was an extensive educational campaign to help churches understand why the union was being recommended. There was a consensus in that era that Protestantism was being splintered by having so many denominations within it.
What does the UCC stand for?
Since its inception in 1957 the United Church of Christ has been a church of firsts: weaving God's message of hope and extravagant welcome, with action for justice and peace. It was the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same gender couples to marry. We were in the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Civil Rights movement. Our response to the demands of our faith is woven into the history of our country. We are a church that welcomes and accepts everyone as they are – where your mind is nourished as much as your soul.
What do we believe?
We believe that God is still speaking. Our faith is 2000 years old. Our thinking is not. We try to remain attentive to God's creative movement in the world today. We insist that God's communion table is open, not closed. Our congregations extend hospitality as a sign of God's inclusive love. The UCC works with, not against people of other faiths. We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus, and to whose deeds we testify.
How is the UCC structured?
Ultimate authority rests with each individual congregation, as in the early Congregational Church. Each state has its own Conference, although Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are in the process of establishing a tri-state conference. These are united nationally into what is called the General Synod. States set their own annual meeting schedule, but the Synod gathers every other year.
The Rev. John Dorhauer, author and theologian, currently serves as ninth General Minister, and President of the United Church of Christ. During his tenure, he is calling on the denomination to rethink itself and to consider new ways of "being church." This is in light of society's reduced interest in institutional religion. In his opinion, the emergent church will grow alongside the institutional church for a long time.
How large is the UCC? Does it cost us to be affiliated?
There are 5,100 churches across the U.S. and nearly a million members. Connecticut has 235 congregations who pay annual dues per member. In return, unity is promoted within our denominational family by focusing on shared values, mission, and vision.
What do we contribute to the UCC in addition to dues?
Based on the size of the congregation, each church sends its minister and additional delegates to the State Conference meetings. They may vote on matters that come up during business sessions. Following guidelines, congregations may submit Resolutions to be considered and acted upon.
The most important thing each church can contribute is its participation. If a congregation is not "connected," it has no idea of the wealth of information and help available to being a vibrant, compassionate, and serving church.
Want to get involved
to make a difference
outside of SOUTH CHURCH?
Consider serving as a lay delegate to
the following organizations
Hartford East Association
South Church is affiliated with these organizations and they need the assistance of local churches to fulfill their mission to the wider church. A testimonial written by one of our members who was active for many years as a conference delegate can be found below.
A UCC DELEGATE'S PERSONAL TESTIMONIAL
by Charlotte Bradbury
Having served as a delegate for ten plus years, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the UCC and firmly believe that staying closely affiliated with other churches in the denomination is to the advantage of us all. We are stronger together.
At every meeting I attended, there was a wealth of information available, tables full of pamphlets, and people who could discuss and explain the various department projects and programs. Every possible phase of Church life was covered. Interesting workshops were there to choose from, usually tying in with the theme of the Conference. The evening keynote speaker was often the president of the national UCC and helped to strengthen that connection. The highlights of the time together were the worship services; always well thought out, lively, musical and inspirational. Hymns sound different somehow, when hundreds of voices join together in praise of our glorious God!
One of the jewels of the Connecticut Conference is a camp and retreat center called Silver Lake. Tucked in the northwest corner of our state, it has been used for generations for renewal and education in a beautiful and natural setting. Every week during the summer, conferences are held for youth of all different ages with the aim of fun and spiritual growth. Our children went to Silver Lake and we've not a doubt but that it contributed greatly to their faith formation and character development.
Our connection with the United Church of Christ goes back to its very inception. As a young couple, my husband and I were asked to be part of the teams that visited churches throughout our district to answer questions about the proposed union. Our enthusiasm has never wavered, and we continue to believe that the UCC is at the cutting edge of the church of tomorrow. Indeed, God is still speaking!