Identity & Communication Event held on 3-20-2004
"Tell 'em Who You Are!"
Union Church uses monthly bulletin inserts on UCC
At Union Congregational UCC in Montclair—like most churches, perhaps—very few members have a long-time association with the United Church of Christ. People wonder “What is this UCC, anyway?”
To help answer their questions, Union is now placing an insert in the Sunday bulletins about once a month. Samples are inside this folder.
The brief statements are written by Betty Jane Bailey, who tries to keep them interesting as well as seasonally appropriate. She also listens for questions and currently is working on a piece on the New Jersey Association and the Central Atlantic Conference.
Both Union and Betty are willing to share these inserts with other churches in the Association. Although the bulletins at Union are this size (printed on legal size paper), the text or type size could be altered to fit the 8½ x 11 inch paper that may be more typical.
If you would like to receive these or future inserts electronically, please contact Betty Bailey directly at:
We are Proud to be UCC
(United Church of Christ)
The United Church of Christ? What’s that? It is the denomination we
belong to. Just like Presbyterians belong to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Methodists to the United Methodist Church, and Catholics to the Roman Catholic Church, WE belong to 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. Through the years other groups such as American Indians, Afro-Christians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Volga Germans, Armenians, Hungarians, and Hispanic Americans have joined the earlier groups. The UCC celebrates its inclusiveness and the broad variety of traditions brought to it.
This occasional bulletin series will explore what is unique about the United Church of Christ and where it originated.
The symbol or logo is at the right.
The words, “That they may all be one”
(John 17:21) reflects the historic commitment
to the restoration of unity among the
separated churches of Jesus Christ.
The crown symbolizes the sovereignty of Christ;
the cross recalls the suffering of Christ
for the salvation of humanity;
the orb in which the cross is planted
reminds us of Jesus’ command to be
God’s witnesses…to the ends of the earth.
Our national offices are in Cleveland and our local church belongs to the New Jersey Association (55 UCC churches) and the Central Atlantic Conference (New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia and parts of Virginia)
We are Proud to be UCC (United Church of Christ)
We sing “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, in the quest for liberty.” The words have a special meaning for the United Church of Christ because its origins are found in the search for liberty. Four denominations came together to form the UCC, first bringing together the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1934 and the Congregational Christian Churches in 1931. Then in 1957 the United Church of Christ was born.
Not all the Pilgrims and Puritans who came to America were religious, but those who were, looked for freedom to worship and develop their separatist ideals. They left England hoping to form a more perfect Christian society in a free land. They founded the Congregational Churches in New England – one of our forbearers.
Germans and Swiss Germans came in the early eighteenth century as refugees from the Europeans wars, seeking freedom from poverty and starvation. They were pragmatic people and flowed into the Middle Atlantic states and Pennsylvania where there was plenty of land. The Dutch Reformed pastors of the area provided their pastors but by the end of the 1700s they freed themselves from Europe and from the Dutch and became the German Reformed Church. During the Revolutionary War
the Liberty bell was hidden in the Zion Reformed Church.
The Germans in the Evangelical Synod of North America
came in the 1800s also fleeing the wars of Europe but here
the freedom of the frontier was the lure. They settled in the
Mississippi River valley and out along the paths of the plains
states. They had been subject to religious coercion in Germany.
The Evangelicals were not conservative religionists but free
thinkers, placing their hope in science, education and culture.
The only uniquely American segment of the UCC was the Christian Church known as the General Convention of Christians. They were from Kentucky, Vermont and Virginia where they broke away from the domination of other denominations. They tried to emulate the simplicity of the early Christians and be free of denominational labels. The only name they used was “Christian” and they hoped to unite all Christians.
We have all been granted wisdom and courage in our quest for liberty
We are Proud to be UCC (United Church of Christ)
Have you heard of the Daughters or the Sons of the Mayflower? Some of our forebears in the faith came over on the Mayflower, becoming the Congregational one-quarter of our denominational heritage, so there are bound to be some Sons and Daughters from that first ship in our New Jersey churches
Another ship was La Amistad. By the time it reached Connecticut, it was carrying women, men and children illegally kidnapped from West Africa. On their journey from a stop in Cuba, these potential slaves - the Mendi people – revolted and tried to make their way back to Africa. They were seized off the coast of Connecticut and jailed in New Haven. Their fight for freedom was partially documented in the movie “Amistad,” but there is more to their history. Members of the Congregational churches taught them English and raised money for their trial.
The Mendis were given their freedom in March 1841, and they were welcomed by the First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Framingham, Connecticut, where they were also given land to farm. They raised money to go home to what is now Sierra Leone; the UCC Church in Framingham still keeps contact with that African nation.
From that encounter, white abolitionists (largely Congregationalists) and African American free men and women continued to work together for justice. When the American Missionary Association (A.M.A.) was founded in 1846, it was the first association to include both white and black clergy and lay people as equals. They opposed returning blacks to Africa and integrated them completely into their activities.
After the Civil War the A.M.A. founded more than 500 schools and played a major role in the establishment of eleven colleges in the South, such as Talladega College, Howard University, and Fisk University. At first, the emphasis was on preparing people to be teachers, but the eleven colleges and universities are now fully accredited schools of higher education. Some of their graduates (or their sons and daughters) are members of New Jersey UCC churches.
We are proud of our UCC forbears who led the fight for equality and integration. Some came by ship seeking freedom and some came by ship as captives. The two ships didn’t meet but the people did, and they became part of our United Church of Christ heritage.