The history of the United Church of Christ is a history of people coming together to put faith into action. One of our most significant ancestors in terms of continuing influence on our denomination and shaping of American history is the pilgrims of New England. This Puritan sect desired to express their faith fully, so they left Europe to form the Massachussetts Bay Colony. While in Europe, their uncompromising positions made them known as the Puritans and lead to war and conflict, but in the colonies, they discovered a need to cooperate with other Puritans and even Native Americans and extending "the right hand of fellowship" to each other would lead to the formation of the Congregational Denomination.
Early in American history, not long after the Revolutionary War, there was a movement of Christians who questioned the compromising stances that various Christians were taking towards slavery, the value of the Protestant denominations that were forming and resulting from the wars of the Reformation period and even the value of Dogma as a standard for Christian membership. They said that it is Christian behavior that should be the standard of membership. This group called themselves simply the Christian movement. They would join with the Pilgrims to become the Christian Congregationalists.
During the 19th century, many groups immigrated to America from Europe. In particular for our history, German settlers came seeking new opportunities and freedom to practice their religion consistently without the vaguaries of political control. The Lutheran influenced group of these settlers would call themselves Evangelicals and the Calvin influenced groups would call themselves Reformed. These two predominantly German groups would eventually become one denomination.
The present form of the United Church of Christ which came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations, the Evangelical & Reformed Church and the Congregational & Christian Churches.
The United Church Of Christ (UCC) is founded on individual freedom of conscience, and is open to a wide diversity of ways to understand, practice and nurture our faith. We welcome all people as Jesus welcomed all who came to him. The barriers of class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and political affiliation dissolve in the presence of the the living Christ. As the hymn says: 'In Christ there is no East or West.'
As Reverend John Robinson, one of the original Congregationalists, said to the Piligrims as they set sail for Massachusetts Bay, "God hath yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word."
The Congregational Church led the Abolitionist movement, believeing that slavery was a sin. We ordainded Antoinette Brown, the first woman to full ministry in 1853, We trust God's unconditional love that calls us from bondage to the promised land, from isolation to community and from despair to hope. We believe in the power of conscience, that 'still small voice' that Elijah heard so many years ago. We believe in an enlightened community and work together for the greater good. We believe in the forgiveness of sins and in the fulness of grace through the life, witness, teachings and presence of Jesus the Christ. We believe that the teachings of Jesus Christ embody the true spiritual authority of the church. We believe our church should be useful in our community and in our personal lives.
We believe in You, God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, 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
You judge people and nations by
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth,
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,
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,
to 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:
and eternal life in Your realm which