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United Church of Christ Overview

Discussion in 'United Church of Christ DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 26, 2005.

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  1. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    United Church of Christ
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States, generally considered within the Reformed tradition, and formed in 1957 by the merger of two denominations, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. As such, the UCC therefore unites one of the earliest Protestant denominations in the United States with various other mostly Reformed traditions that sprang up in the United States in the 1700s and 1800s.

    The United Church of Christ has approximately 1.3 million members and is composed of approximately 5,750 local churches organized in 39 Conferences.

    Origin

    In 1957, the UCC was formed by the merging of two previously existing denominations, namely the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

    The Congregational Christian Churches trace their roots to:

    * The primarily reformed/Calvinist Congregational churches, whose organizational structure was Congregationalism, this separating them from the theologically similar Presbyterians. This denomination was centered in New England (being the state churches of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut from colonial times until well into the 19th century). The church spread wherever New Englanders migrated, including significant numbers in the Great Lakes region and upper Midwest (states like Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.) The Congregation churches, in turn, traced their colonial era origins to the separatist Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony in 1620 and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who landed in 1629 and 1630 and settled Boston.
    * A portion of the American frontier Restoration Movement known as the Christian Churches. This group was comprised of a number of frontier movements that broke away from more established denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist) because they desired less rigid requirements of doctrine and church polity/organization. They saw the Bible as their only doctrinal guide and claimed "no creed but Christ." This movement is part of the family of similar movements that generated the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.

    The Evangelical and Reformed Church hails from two distinct, yet related, waves of immigrant German Protestantism:

    * The Reformed Church in the United States, the German version of the Reformed/Calvinist movement. They looked to the Heidelberg Catechism as their primary confession and hailed primarily from areas near the Rhine River in Germany and also from parts of Switzerland. These mostly 18th century immigrants settled heavily in Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, but also in a few other scattered areas.
    * The Evangelical Synod of North America. These 19th and early 20th century German immigrants settled primarily in the Midwest, especially Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. They came from the Evangelical Church of the Union, which was the result of a 1817 union between Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia. The group often identified as primarily Lutheran, but held a mixture of both Lutheran and Reformed beliefs and practices (so much so as to prevent this group from merging with other Lutheran bodies). They looked to both the Reformed Heidelberg Catechism and the Lutheran Luther's Small Catechism as their confessions (and eventually developed an "Evangelical Catechism", which merged views of both).

    Doctrine and Beliefs

    The UCC uses four words to describe itself: Christian, Reformed, Congregational and Evangelical. The church's diversity and adherence to covenental polity (rather than presbyterian or episcopal) gives individual congregations a great deal of freedom in the areas of worship, congregational life, and doctrine.

    The motto of the United Church of Christ comes from John 17:21: That they may all be one. The UCC uses broad doctrinal parameters, honoring creeds and confessions as "testimonies of faith" rather than "tests of faith," and emphasizing freedom of individual conscience and local church autonomy. Indeed, the relationship between local congregations and the denomination's national headquarters is covenantal rather than hierarchical; local churches have complete control of their finances, hiring and firing of clergy and other staff, and theological and political stands.

    In the United Church of Christ, creeds, confessions, and affirmations of faith function as "testimonies to faith" around which the church gathers rather than as "tests of faith" rigidly proscribing required doctrinal consent. As expressed on the United Church of Christ website, "The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation." The denomination therefore looks to a number of historic confessions as expressing the common faith around which the church gathers, including the Apostles and Nicene creeds, the Reformation-era Heidelberg Catechism and Luther's Small Catechism, American confessions such as the Congregationalist Kansas City Statement of Faith and the Evangelical Synod's Evangelical Catechism, and, of course, the current Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ.

    From Wikipedia.
     
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