Each Sunday morning at worship I highlight and ask the congregation to pray for a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) across the nation and invite us to worship with them “as sisters and brothers in faith”. The United Church of Christ became a denomination in 1957 as a uniting of the Congregational-Christian Church and the German Evangelical and Reformed Church (E&R). Most New England UCC churches have a Congregational background as does Sharon Congregational UCC, but those of you who have lived in the middle Atlantic states or the mid-west might know of E&R congregations as well which are now part of our denomination,the United Church of Christ (UCC) whose headquarters is in Cleveland, Ohio. We have found it interesting to hear throughout the past year about UCC churches of many types. Sometimes I choose churches very much like our own. Often I choose congregations which differ in size, ethnicity, history, building type, or missions/ministries which are unusual or especially timely. Sometimes I choose to tell about a congregation which has been the subject of an on-line article on the national UCC website. Sometimes I choose a congregation which has responded in some way to a natural disaster nationwide or worldwide – or which has experienced such difficulty itself. Sometimes I find an interesting UCC church described on Facebook and decide to share its activities with you. Sometimes there is a funny story- or a courageous one – about the pastor of a UCC church somewhere. Sometimes the church is one you, yourself, have visited or to which you used to belong. Sometimes I tell about a church I have visited. It’s pretty likely that in the next two weeks I’ll be discovering interesting UCC churches located somewhere near Green Bay (in Wisconsin) and near Pittsburgh, PA. Throughout the year we have highlighted several UCC churches with a German E&R history – churches which have brought a rich heritage into our denomination including, especially, some lovely traditions around the celebration of Christmas. (Old Pilgrim/Congregation churches in New England did not celebrate Christmas at worship for many years.) We have also heard about new UCC churches begun by Asian or Hispanic communities,old downtown UCC churches which have changed their mission as city neighborhoods changed, churches with a history as old as ours and churches started on the western frontier in the 19th century by missionary societies from New England. We’ve heard about churches which keep to traditional ways of worship and those who try new music and forms of worship. Many pay attention to the changing needs of their community and reach out in mission in interesting and creative ways. In a few weeks when we are vacationing in Arizona, Carole and I hope to visit the congregation which I highlighted recently – Casa Adobes Congregational UCC in the northwest suburbs of Tucson which has an interesting 50+ year history of taking shape on land which was once a western ranch, a very progressive way of reaching out in mission and ministry, but especially in recent weeks has been challenged to respond in faithful witness and by hope-giving to the awful shooting violence which occurred at a shopping mall just around the corner. Please continue to keep UCC churches in Tucson and their pastors in your prayers. More to come in our next newsletter about some other interesting UCC churches. If you’re on-line and like to “google”and explore, try looking for the web-sites of United Church of Christ (UCC) churches in places that have meaning to you and let us know what you discover.
Blessings, Pastor Marjorie