The United Church of Christ was born in 1957 as a merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The UCC has roots that extend to the Mayflower, as those passengers became the first Congregationalists in America. The UCC is proud to serve as a bold voice proclaiming the Good News in a world where “God Is Still Speaking,”. The comma emphasizes God’s ongoing activity in the world and comes from a Gracie Allen quote, “Never put a period where God has placed a comma.”
One of the most commonly misunderstood things about the UCC is related to how we function within the larger denomination.It is true that the UCC has a reputation that is highly social-justice oriented. The members who gather every other year at our General Synod regularly vote on resolutions that one might think of as being on the progressive edge of American politics. However, and this is the key, UCC congregations are not bound by these resolutions. They may choose to support them or ignore them. The General Synod is, in fact, considered but a single congregation among many, even if it is made up of members from all of the Conferences and Associations. Reflecting this relationship is the guiding philosophy that the General Synod speaks TO the churches, not for the churches. This relationship affirms the centrality of the local congregation in the life of our denomination, and firmly plants authority in that congregation. At St. Luke’s we celebrate that relationship by supporting the United Church of Christ in our prayers and in a variety of special offerings taken up throughout the year. For more information about the UCC, visit www.ucc.org.
As a member church of the United Church of Christ, St. Luke’s church holds up certain beliefs as central to our faith. They include:
“That they may all be one” (John 17:21). We orient ourselves toward a unity that heals divisions in the body of Christ. We are a united as well as a uniting church.
“In essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, in all things charity.” In the UCC we celebrate our unity in Christ that is seen through the amazing diversity of creation, a diversity we observe in race, gender, creed, orientation, opinion, nationality, and a host of other diversities. God’s grace is the key that preserves our unity in the midst of our diversity.
“Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith.” We have no set formula that is a test of faith. Instead, we honor many different creeds and testimonies as legitimate expressions of belief in the One who created us all, such as the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, and others. Our own testimony is the UCC Statement of Faith, which can be read below.
“There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word.” This statement is credited to John Robinson, “Pastor to the Pilgrims”, from his address to them as they left on the Mayflower for their journey to America. It wonderfully captures the idea of the Stillspeaking God!
“The priesthood of all believers.” The Holy Spirit empowers all believers to answer God’s call to minister to each other as equal members in the Body of Christ. This responsibility is not eliminated just because a church calls a trained pastor!
“Responsible freedom.” We believe that we are called to live in covenant with God and with each other, a relationship that is characterized by a willing commitment to our mutual well-being. This commitment is not automatic; it is the product of our minds and hearts working together in love.
The United Church of Christ Statement of Faith (as a doxology)
We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being, create persons in your own image,and set before each one the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself.
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil,to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.