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,”