A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Chuck Currie speculates on the growth possibilities of the United Church of Christ after they recently voted overwhelmingly to support gay marriage in the church and the greater society. I found out a bit of the response when I attended my own UCC congregation today and discovered that it was packed full of new folks I haven't met before. I spoke with some of them and the biggest reason they came was because of the recent UCC vote.

Our pastor spoke about the synod meeting in Atlanta and on what it means to be UCC and in this I saw some some building blocks for renewal. Some of it is the appreciation so many have over finding a church which is finally open for them. Some of it is the creation of a theological identity and meaning, which the mainline has sorely lacked over the years. Our own local congregation has grown quite a bit over the last few years for having both.

So I think Chuck Currie is right to believe that this could make a difference for the denomination overall. But there are costs in acting in a prophetic matter as his site recounts this story in Middlebrook VA: "A small fire was set in St. John’s Reformed United Church of Christ this morning and anti-gay graffiti was painted on the side of the building". What vision of religion must one have that burning a church could be considered justified?

With the news of the UCC, other denominational gatherings have gotten less exposure but their contribution to a better world ought not go unnoticed. In particular the Religious Society of Friends, ie the Quakers, had their national gathering this July 2-9. It was titled Weaving the Blessed Tapestry and included worship, a talk by John Spong, and apparently some amazing music. And the Disciples of Christ will have their convention July 23-27.

Also the Methodists in the UK are moving to bless same sex unions. The Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA Lutherans is the 23rd of 65 synods in the country to join a movement toward full acceptance of gays after as they voted to affirm that all people “are welcome within the membership of the synod, and that, as members, are welcome to full participation in the organizational and sacramental life of this church,”


At 7:09 PM , Anonymous Stefanie said...

I am so pleased that the UCC has decided to bless same-sex marriage. I joined my local UCC church after becoming disenchanted and fed up with the intolerance of my Catholic faith. My UCC pastor has helped me to feel closer to Christ than I have ever felt. Several of my gay and lesbian friends have also joined UCC churches to find that they can be accepted, after years of hatred and rejection. I feel God at work in this decision and I know it is what He wants.

At 11:35 PM , Anonymous Keith Taylor said...


I need you to help me with some confusion I am having with the UCC. When I was in high school and in college I had two very good friends who were members of the Church of Christ. These two guys used to duck hunt with me and another United Methodist friend of mine. (There was also a Mormon with us, but we didn't count them as only 50% Christian. just kidding.) Anyhow, we had lots of cold mornings in the duck blind to talk about every subject under the sun and religion was always one of the subjects.

Me and my UM friend always thought the Church of Christ guys were very, very, ULTRA conservative. They told us ( I never went so I don't know ) that they didn't even have an organ in the church, "because musical instruments weren't referred to in the New Testament, so they sang their hymns, acapella. (sp?) They also thought that smoking was a sin, but dipping snuff was okay. They wouldn't dance at school dances. One of these two went to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He told me that if they were even caught on campus with a beer, they would be expelled. In fact, I was looked at as a heretic because I went to a Christian Brothers College, a Roman Catholic School, and we always had beer on campus. I always thought to myself, "what kind of fundamentalist denomination is this?", but I figured to each their own. We quizzed them many numerous times in our "duckblind synods" if that was their personal beliefs or their beliefs in the Church of Christ, and it was always "the beliefs of the Church.

Now my question to you is: Is this the same Church of Christ that just accepted same sex marriages? Are there different branches of the Church of Christ, one for the South and one for the rest of country?

I am slightly confused to say the least how music and tobacco and alcohol are cardinal sins, but gay marriage is okay.

Or was it just 20 years ago and they didn't have a clue what they believed?

At 2:03 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Keith Taylor
The Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ are two separate denominations, and yep you'd be right on your assessment of the Church of Christ, which is about the most conservative brand of protestantism I've seen. But they don't have any relation or history in common with the UCC.

The UCC was created in the 1950s with the merger of the Congregationalists and the Evangelical and Reformed Churches (and some other smaller bodies) and throughout their history has been on the liberal end of protestantism.

The Church of Christ does actually share some common history with the Disciples of Christ, both are usually what is referred to as Campbellites or Restorationists, that is they want to envision their church as reduplicating the NT church and eliminate any add ons which have developed over the years.

Thus the no organ music, etc. The Disciples today is fairly moderate to liberal in today's religious spectrum, the Church of Christ is not, but both Alexander Campbell and is it Barton Stone? were influential founders of what would end up being these two denominations.

So no, both denominations are acting fairly predictably in this regard :)

I do think the decision will make a difference in terms of those seeking to find a more open church. It'd be nice if starts changing the debate in this country but if the church and glbt members are able to connect spiritually that matters far more in the end. Btw enjoy reading your site there.

At 10:03 AM , Anonymous Keith Taylor said...

Thanks Dwight,

I knew there was no way that the UCC and the CC that I was familiar with could possibly be the same denomination.


I visited your blog, also. It is pretty cool, but WAAAAYYYY too liberal for me. :-) BTW, I read about your trip to Memphis. I was born and raised in Memphis, I lived there 24 years and went to Christian Brothers Univerity. Since you went to the zoo, you probably drove past it on East Parkway. My parents house is only 1 1/4 miles from Graceland. I used to drive past it everyday. I am very glad y'all had fun. Beale Street is very cool. It was just being renovated when I still living there. I hardly recognize it today. I agree with your thoughts you should stay a week next time you go.

How was that, Dwight? Not bad for a conservative. I didn't wish she'd be thrown into hell or anything, did I? LOL.

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