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Our UCC Legacy


Through the work of the Holy Spirit there is an obligation to pursue a 'transformed life' ... for how we are to order our lives in the present day world ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Our UCC Legacy

Our UCC Legacy
  • That they may all be one

UCC Constitution Preamble, Paragraph 2
The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its
sole Head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior.
It acknowledges as kindred in Christ all who
share in this confession. It looks to the Word of
God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and
power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative
and redemptive work in the world. It claims as
its own the faith of the historic Church
expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in
the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers.
It affirms the responsibility of the Church in
each generation to make this faith its own in
reality of worship, in honesty of thought and
expression, and in purity of heart before God. In
accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the
practice prevailing among evangelical Christians,
it recognizes two sacraments Baptism and the
Lords Supper or Holy Communion.
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That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in
me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so
that the world may believe that you have sent
Congregational Churches
  • English Puritan movement English Reformation
  • 16th and 17th century England
  • Rooted in Swiss and German reformations

John Foxe a noteworthy English puritan
Puritan belief
  • Deep sense of Gods sovereignty
  • Belonging to God
  • Seeking His wisdom in all things
  • Determined opposition to political or
    ecclesiastical tyranny
  • Endured significant persecution at the hands of
    Anglican church and English crown

The new world…
  • Emigration to America 1620 onward…
  • Sought to establish a separation between the
    Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world
  • Church should be separate from the world, while
    participating in its structures
  • Puritan legacy
  • Separation of church and state, religious
    liberty, freedom of worship

Rubbing from a pilgrim tombstone
William Brewster and John Winthrop Early
pilgrim leaders
Congregational Churches
  • Local Church autonomy
  • Separation of the church from the power and
    control of the state
  • Emphasis on educated clergy
  • Few restrictions on belief which led to various
    non-Calvinistic systems in America
  • Deism, Unitarianism, Transcendentalism,
  • Large influence on Baptist and Presbyterian
    groups in America

Henry Ward Beecher Congregationalist,
abolitionist, suffragist
Jonathan Edwards Revivalist Preacher
The German Reformed Tradition
  • Huge influx of german and swiss immigrants in the
    early 1700s
  • Pennsylvania and mid-Atlantic regions
  • Lutheran and reformed faith
  • Driven from Europe as a result of political and
    religious warfare

German Reformed in America
  • Pastors were rare in the early years
  • Heavy reliance on the Bible and Heidelberg
    Catechism for spiritual direction for church life
    and education
  • Growth of clergy led to power being given to
    church consistories for decision making
  • In order to balance influence of clergy and laity
  • Pietism
  • Movement in later years
  • Mercersburg movement Phillip Schaff
  • Re-emphasized the importance of the church and
    the value of liturgy and sacraments.

Phillip Schaff
German Evangelical Tradition
  • Early 1800s in America
  • Came due to difficult political and economic
    situation in Europe
  • Many settled in Ohio and the midwest
  • Experiential form of pietism common to this
  • Response to growing rationalism in Europe

German Evangelical Contributions
  • Concern for church union believed to be the
    will of Christ
  • Downside of which was a lack of theological
    precision among churches participating in union
  • Can be seen in the church activities spawned by
    the Great Awakening

Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr famous ER
The Christian Churches
  • More Uniquely American than the other three
    that make up the UCC
  • New England and Kentucky fellowships heavily
    influenced by Second Great Awakening
  • Strong desire to return to the practice of the
    first Christians

Christian Church Beliefs
  • Simplicity in worship
  • Strong emphasis on development of Christian
  • Belief in Bible as only rule of faith and
  • Concern for unity among all Christians who held
    to these principles
  • Deep appreciation for democratic form of

Christian Church Contributions
  • From their study of Biblical scripture
  • An early voice against slavery
  • Encouragement of women in ministry

James OKelly Christian Church Leader
A Series of Unions…
  • Congregational-Christian
  • 1931
  • Evangelical and Reformed
  • 1934
  • CC/ER merged into the United Church of Christ
  • 1957

The United Church of Christ
  • Several shared historical concerns
  • WWI and WWII
  • Growing awareness of racism
  • Commitment to Christ and Christian unity

A common vision…
  • Basic Christian beliefs in the United Church of

Gods Sovereignty
  • He is the creator and sustainer of the universe
  • Author of salvation, as manifested in the
    incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of
    Jesus Christ
  • Christs Lordship extends over all areas of life

Personal Transformation
  • Through the work of the Holy Spirit there is an
    obligation to pursue a transformed life
  • A movement from focusing on living exclusively as
    citizens of the world, to living as citizens of
    the Kingdom of God
  • Pursuit of Christ-likeness

The Church is Called by God
  • The church is a people called by God
  • Free from political control
  • Individual transformation is extended to the
    transformation of society

Local Church Autonomy
  • The local church is the basic unit of Christian
  • Local Autonomy Guided by the Holy Spirit
  • Handling its own affairs
  • Managing its property
  • Serving their community through evangelism,
    social service, and discipleship

The Great Commission
  • The Gospel is to be preached to all nations
  • Modern missionary movement started by
  • Haystack prayer meeting
  • Concern shared by other traditions that make up
    the UCC
  • Not a current UCC emphasis
  • Since it remains the will of God, FWC is
    determined to honor it.

Haystack Monument Williams College
Women in Ministry
  • FWC stands wholeheartedly with current a past
    leaders who fought for a womans place in
  • Rooted in the Gospel
  • We celebrate the many thousands of successful
    women currently in ministry as well as those in
    the past.

Abigail Roberts Christian Church
Social Service and Social Action
  • Concern for freedom and justice is a profound
    Biblical emphasis
  • UCC and its predecessor denominations…
  • Founding of universities and seminaries
  • Hospitals and nursing clinics
  • Homes for youth
  • Leadership in the abolition of slavery
  • Leadership in the modern civil rights movement
  • Many of these concerns are central to those of us
    in renewal movements like FWC

Challenges Today and in the Future
Concerns of Renewal Movements
  • All of the items just listed
  • Shared concern for unity among Christians
  • The great theological and cultural issues of our
    time necessitate cooperation among like minded
    church and renewal bodies

The Challenge of Engagement
  • Showcasing the shared appreciation for rich
    theological and ecclesiastical legacy of the UCC
  • Continuing to engage those in the UCC who have
    moved further to the left
  • Confronting the deep divide over Biblical
    interpretation as well as theological and ethical
    implications that flow from these differing

What is Truth?
  • In the 21st century, Truth has become quite fluid
  • Loss of connection to history
  • Historic Christian perspective
  • Basic events and stories of the Biblical
    narrative are truth
  • These events provide meaning to the Gods
  • Science, for example, is limited in its capacity
    to explain many things
  • The Christian worldview best provides an
    understanding for how we are to order our lives
    in the present day world

Some Caveats…
  • Those of us committed to the historic faith have
    not always gotten things right
  • Which is why our faith calls us to humility and
    conversation with all areas of the community of
  • We do not disagree with UCC leaders on everything

What troubles us most…
  • Use of traditional theological or Biblical
    language when it is not applicable
  • Hearing that the Biblical narrative is so bound
    up with ancient culture that it lacks any
    trans-cultural value
  • To yield to the liberal understanding of truth
    leads to a change in the meaning of salvation, of
    Gods interactions with the world throughout the
    Bible and through Christ to bring judgment and
    grace to the world through Christs atoning death
    and resurrection

What we hold most dear
  • What we in FWC uphold first and foremost is the
    powerful historic witness that these four
    traditions brought with them to the UCC
  • These are Truths, a way of life, that we believe
    is not only good for ourselves, but for our
    children, and ultimately for everyone in the UCC
    and the world.
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