Identity & Communication Event held on 3-20-2004

"Tell 'em Who You Are!"

Letter from John Thomas

Welcoming Participants to the Workshop

United Church of Christ

The Collegium of Officers

John H. Thomas

Office of General Ministries

Edith A. Guffey

Office of General Ministries

Bernice Powell Jackson

Justice and Witness Ministries

Jose A. Malayang

Local Church Ministries

Olivia Masih White

Wider Church Ministries


United Church of Christ  .   





March 20, 2004




Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:


Welcome to First Church in Montclair and to a day of learning how to “Tell ‘Em Who You Are.” I hope your time with my friend Ron Buford, and with colleagues across the New Jersey Association, will help you fall in love again, or for the first time, with the United Church of Christ!


Fall in love with a church daring to speak early for justice and peace, a church steeped in the message of the prophets and responsive to Christ’s announcement of the approaching realm of God, a church willing to risk criticism from the respectable for the sake of those who must live at the margins.


Fall in love with a church long ready to recognize the gifts for ministry of women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, a church that takes the sacrament of baptism so seriously that it refuses to deny or inhibit the gifts and callings of each person among the baptized.


Fall in love with a church whose extravagant welcome is embodied in language that is inclusive and hospitality that is wide, a church so aware of the sovereign rule of God that every limiting or excluding human behavior and speech is called under judgment and drawn toward repentance.


Fall in love with a church the celebrates the promise of Ephesians wherein the whole creation will be reconciled in Christ, a church that sees in the Lord’s Supper Christ’s presence to all, that knows whenever we stand at the Table in monochromatic, monolingual, or monocultural ways, we deny the rich diversity of God’s vision which the Eucharist is meant to portray and enact.


Fall in love with a church that honors every local church’ s responsibility to discern God’s will and way for its own mission and ministry, a church that invites local churches into covenant rather than imposing uniformity from above.


Fall in love with a church that for two hundred years has reached across borders to share the Good News of Jesus with people who now reach back to us, a church that is enriched by partnerships across the globe that bring life in the midst of violence, hope in the midst of fear, joy in the midst of discouragement.


Fall in love with a church that honors your personal spiritual journey while connecting it to the great tradition of the faith through the centuries, a church that cherishes its heritage but that knows God is still speaking a new, compelling, comforting, and challenging word to you for this time and this place.


Enjoy your day together. Learn how to “tell ‘em who you are.” But most of all, fall in love with the United Church of Christ, the Church of the Still Speaking God.




John H. Thomas

General Minister and President