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Bethel United Church of Christ


Bethel United Church of Christ Membership Class UCC 101 March 9th, 2014 No matter who you are or where you are on life s journey, you are welcome here. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Bethel United Church of Christ

Bethel United Church of Christ
Membership Class UCC 101 March 9th, 2014
  • No matter who you are or where you are on lifes
    journey, you are welcome here.

United Church of Christ
  • Who We Are
  • Our faith is 2,000 years old. Our thinking is
    not.We believe in God's continuing testament. 
    This is why we are committed to hearing God's
    ancient story anew and afresh in our lives and in
    the world today.  We try to remain attentive to
    God's creative movement in the world. Religion
    and science are not mutually exclusive, and your
    head and heart are both welcomed into our places
    of worship.  We prepare our members and leaders
    to be engaged in ministry in the present and
    future church, and we embrace all kinds of
    communities and new modes of thinking.  Why?
    Because God is still speaking,

  • No matter who you are or where you are on life's
    journey, you are welcome here.We believe in
    extravagant welcome.  This is why we insist that
    God's communion table is open, not closed, and
    God's gift and claim in baptism are irrevocable. 
    We advocate justice for all. 

  • Our congregations extend hospitality as a sign
    of God's inclusive love.  We teach that
    evangelism offering bread to those in search of
    it is God's mission.  Our perspective is
    global, not provincial.  We work with not
    against people of other faiths. 
  • Why? Because God is still speaking,

Never place a period where God has placed a
comma.We believe the church's mission is to
change lives individually, systemically and
globally.  We work to make transformation
possible, but trust in God's grace.  This is why
we insist that churches must be places of
vitality in worship, learning and advocacy. We
are committed to working for justice, and we
believe that lives are changed through global
experiences and friendships.  Why? Because God is
still speaking,
What we believeWe believe in the triune God
Creator, resurrected Christ, the sole Head of the
church, and the Holy Spirit, who guides and
brings about the creative and redemptive work of
God in the world. We believe that each person
is unique and valuable. It is the will of God
that every person belong to a family of faith
where they have a strong sense of being valued
and loved.
  • We believe that each person is on a spiritual
    journey and that each of us is at a different
    stage of that journey.
  • We believe that the persistent search for God
    produces an authentic relationship with God,
    engendering love, strengthening faith, dissolving
    guilt, and giving life purpose and direction.

  • We believe that all of the baptized 'belong body
    and soul to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' No
    matter who no matter what no matter where we
    are on life's journey notwithstanding race,
    gender, sexual orientation, class or creed we
    all belong to God and to one worldwide community
    of faith. All persons baptized past, present
    and future are connected to each other and to
    God through the sacrament of baptism. We baptize
    during worship when the community is present
    because baptism includes the community's promise
    of 'love, support and care' for the baptized
    and we promise that we won't take it back no
    matter where your journey leads you.

  • We believe that all people of faith are invited
    to join Christ at Christ's table for the
    sacrament of Communion. Just as many grains of
    wheat are gathered to make one loaf of bread and
    many grapes are gathered to make one cup of wine,
    we, the many people of God, are made one in the
    body of Christ, the church. The breaking of bread
    and the pouring of wine reminds us of the
    costliness of Christ's sacrifice and the
    discipleship to which we are all called. In the
    breaking of bread, we remember and celebrate
    Christ's presence among us along with a 'cloud of
    witnesses' our ancestors, family and friends
    who have gone before us. It is a great mystery
    we claim it by faith.

  • We believe the UCC is called to be a united and
    uniting church. "That they may all be one." (John
    1721) "In essentialsunity, in
    nonessentialsdiversity, in all thingscharity,"
    These UCC mottos survive because they touch core
    values deep within us. The UCC has no rigid
    formulation of doctrine or attachment to creeds
    or structures. Its overarching creed is love. UCC
    pastors and teachers are known for their
    commitment to excellence in theological
    preparation, interpretation of the scripture and
    justice advocacy. Even so, love and unity in the
    midst of our diversity are our greatest assets.

  • We believe that God calls us to be servants in
    the service of others and to be good stewards of
    the earth's resources. 'To believe is to care to
    care is to do.'
  • We believe that the UCC is called to be a
    prophetic church. As in the tradition of the
    prophets and apostles, God calls the church to
    speak truth to power, liberate the oppressed,
    care for the poor and comfort the afflicted.

  • We believe in the power of peace, and work for
    nonviolent solutions to local, national, and
    international problems.
  • We are a people of possibility. In the UCC,
    members, congregations and structures have the
    breathing room to explore and to hear ... for
    after all, God is still speaking, ...

  • The Stillspeaking Ministry
  • Stillspeaking. It's the shorter form of "God is
    still speaking," a campaign by the United Church
    of Christ to remind us that God still has a lot
    more to say. Since 2004, Stillspeaking has worked
    with thousands of UCC churches and individuals
    across the country to make religion relevant
    again and to extend an extravagant welcome to
    allbecause no matter who you are, or where you
    are on life's journey, you're welcome here. Here
    at the United Church of Christ.

  • Today, under one collective identity, we can
    enthusiastically lift up that the UCC is a
    welcoming, justice-minded Christian community. At
    a time when religion is too often portrayed as
    narrow-minded and exclusive, many are raising
    their VOICES for an alternate vision

  • Where God is all-loving and inclusive- Where the
    Church of Jesus Christ welcomes and accepts
    everyone as they are- Where your mind is
    nourished as much as your soul- Where Jesus the
    healer meets Jesus the revolutionary- Where
    together we grow a just and peaceful world

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 What is the United Church of Christ?
  • The United Church of Christ came into being in
    1957 with the union of two Protestant
    denominations the Evangelical and Reformed
    Church and the Congregational Christian Churches.
    Each of these was, in turn, the result of a union
    of two earlier traditions.

  • The Congregational Churches were organized when
    the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation (1620) and
    the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
    (1629) acknowledged their essential unity in the
    Cambridge Platform of 1648.
  • The Reformed Church in the United States traced
    its beginnings to congregations of German
    settlers in Pennsylvania founded from 1725 on.
    Later, its ranks were swelled by Reformed
    immigrants from Switzerland, Hungary and other

  • The Christian Churches sprang up in the late
    1700s and early 1800s in reaction to the
    theological and organizational rigidity of the
    Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches of
    the time.
  • The Evangelical Synod of North America traced its
    beginnings to an association of German
    Evangelical pastors in Missouri. This
    association, founded in 1841, reflected the 1817
    union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in

  • Through the years, other groups such as American
    Indians, Afro-Christians, Asian Americans,
    Pacific Islanders, Volga Germans, Armenians, and
    Hispanic Americans have joined with the four
    earlier groups. In recent years, Christians from
    other traditions, including the Roman Catholic
    Church, have found a home in the UCC, and so have
    gay and lesbian Christians who have not been
    welcome in other churches. Thus the United Church
    of Christ celebrates and continues a broad
    variety of traditions in its common life.

Characteristics of the United Church of Christ
  • The characteristics of the United Church of
    Christ can be summarized in part by the key words
    in the names that formed our union Christian,
    Reformed, Congregational, Evangelical.
  • Christian. By our very name, the United Church of
    Christ, we declare ourselves to be part of the
    Body of Christthe Christian church. We continue
    the witness of the early disciples to the reality
    and power of the crucified and risen Christ,
    Jesus of Nazareth.

  • Reformed. All four denominations arose from the
    tradition of the Protestant Reformers We confess
    the authority of one God. We affirm the primacy
    of the Scriptures, the doctrine of justification
    by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and
    the principle of Christian freedom. We celebrate
    two sacraments baptism and the Lord's Supper
    (also called Holy Communion or the Eucharist).

  • Congregational. The basic unit of the United
    Church of Christ is the congregation. Members of
    each congregation covenant with one another and
    with God as revealed in Jesus Christ and
    empowered by the Holy Spirit. These
    congregations, in turn, exist in covenantal
    relationships with one another to form larger
    structures for more effective work. Our
    covenanting emphasizes trustful relationships
    rather than legal agreements.

  • Evangelical. The primary task of the church is
    the proclamation of the Gospel or (in Greek)
    evangel. The Gospel literally means the "Good
    News" of God's love revealed with power in Jesus
    Christ. We proclaim this Gospel by word and deed
    to individual persons and to society. This
    proclamation is the heart of the leiturgiain
    Greek, the "work of the people" in daily and
    Sunday worship. We gather for the worship of God,
    and through each week, we engage in the service
    of humankind.

  • What we believe
  • We can tell you more about the United Church of
    Christ with the help of seven phrases from
    Scripture and Tradition which express our

  • That they may all be one. John 1721 This motto
    of the United Church of Christ reflects the
    spirit of unity on which it is based and points
    toward future efforts to heal the divisions in
    the body of Christ. We are a uniting church as
    well as a united church.
  • In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity,
    in all things charity. The unity that we seek
    requires neither an uncritical acceptance of any
    point of view, nor rigid formulation of doctrine.
    It does require mutual understanding and
    agreement as to which aspects of the Christian
    faith and life are essential.

  • The unity of the church is not of its own making.
    It is a gift of God. But expressions of that
    unity are as diverse as there are individuals.
    The common thread that runs through all is love.

  • Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith.
    Because faith can be expressed in many different
    ways, the United Church of Christ has no formula
    that is a test of faith. Down through the
    centuries, however, Christians have shared their
    faith with one another through creeds,
    confessions, catechisms and other statements of

  • . Historic statements such as the Apostles'
    Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg
    Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the
    Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform and
    the Kansas City Statement of Faith are valued in
    our church as authentic testimonies of faith.
    See Beliefs for the complete texts of some of
    these testimonies.

  • In 1959, the General Synod of the United Church
    of Christ adopted a Statement of Faith prepared
    especially for congregations of the United
    Church. Many of us use this statement as a common
    affirmation of faith in worship and as a basis
    for study.

  • There is yet more light and truth to break forth
    from God's holy word. This affirmation by one of
    the founders of the Congregational tradition
    assumes the primacy of the Bible as a source for
    understanding the Good News and as a foundation
    for all statements of faith. It recognizes that
    the Bible, though written in specific historical
    times and places, still speaks to us in our
    present condition. It declares that the study of
    the scriptures is not limited by past
    interpretations, but it is pursued with the
    expectation of new insights and God's help for
    living today.

  • The Priesthood of All Believers. All members of
    the United Church of Christ are called to
    minister to others and to participate as equals
    in the common worship of God, each with direct
    access to the mercies of God through personal
    prayer and devotion.
  • Recognition is given to those among us who have
    received special training in pastoral, priestly,
    educational and administrative functions, but
    these persons are regarded as servantsrather
    than as persons in authority. Their task is to
    guide, to instruct, to enable the ministry of all
    Christians rather than to do the work of ministry
    for us.
  • .

  • Responsible Freedom. As individual members of the
    Body of Christ, we are free to believe and act in
    accordance with our perception of God's will for
    our lives. But we are called to live in a loving,
    covenantal relationship with one
    anothergathering in communities of faith,
    congregations of believers, local churches. .

  • Each congregation or local church is free to act
    in accordance with the collective decision of its
    members, guided by the working of the Spirit in
    the light of the scriptures. But it also is
    called to live in a covenantal relationship with
    other congregations for the sharing of insights
    and for cooperative action under the authority of

  • Likewise, associations of churches, conferences,
    the General Synod and the churchwide "covenanted
    ministries" of the United Church of Christ are
    free to act in their particular spheres of
    responsibility. Yet all are constrained by love
    to live in a covenantal relationship with one
    another and with the local churches in order to
    make manifest the unity of the body of Christ and
    thus to carry out God's mission in the world more

  • The members, congregations, associations,
    conferences, General Synod, and covenanted
    ministries are free in relation to the world. We
    affirm that the authority of God as revealed in
    Jesus Christ and interpreted with the aid of the
    Holy Spirit stands above and judges all human
    culture, institutions and laws. But we recognize
    our calling both as individuals and as the church
    to live in the world

  • To proclaim in word and action the Gospel of
    Jesus Christ.To work for reconciliation and the
    unity of the broken Body of Christ.To seek
    justice and liberation for all.
  • This is the challenge of the United Church of

  • No matter who you are or where you are on life's
    journey, you are welcome here. Jesus didn't turn
    away people, neither do we.

  • We are a progressive church open to new ideas. If
    you have been looking for a church and have not
    found the perfect one, come help us turn Bethel
    into that church you have been looking for

  • In 2012, we celebrated 127 years in downtown
    Ontario, and rededicated our 100-year-old
    building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an
    all-Beethoven Concert by the Southland Symphony

  • We are united by our radical welcome, not any
    tests of faith.

  • We have a long history in Ontario California.
    Bethel Congregational was incorporated back in
    1885. Our current building, the gothic revival
    stone castle-looking building was dedicated in
    1913. It remains a landmark at the corner of
    Euclid and F Street. We may look imposing and
    traditional from the outside, but inside you will
    find a welcoming congregation who is quite
    liberal in our theology.

  • At Bethel, we believe that religion doesn't have
    to be opposed to intellect. We are a church that
    encourages you to engage your mind as well as
    your faith.

  • Bethel is a place to make a difference
  • Bethel is - Open and Affirming
  • Bethel is - a place of Radical Welcome
  • Bethel is - a vibrant, engaged congregation
  • Bethel is - a church that does Gods work in the
    world, nurtures spiritual growth, and helps to
    build a loving community
  • Bethel is ready to welcome YOU!