Church History

The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two
Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the
Congregational Christian Churches. Each of these was, in turn, the result

of a union of two earlier denominations.

 

The Congregational Churches trace their origins to the Pilgrims of
Plymouth Plantation (1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony (1625). these groups saw the gathered community, under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, as the center of religious and civic life,
hence they were called "Congregationalists". The Reformed Church
in the United States began with German settlers in Pennsylvania from
about 1725 onward. Other Reformed people from Switzerland and other
European countries joined them, and they moved westward in the 18th
and 19th centuries.

 

The Christian Churches developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a response to theological and organizational differences within the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches in the southern regions of this country. The people who formed the Christian Churches thought that a Church should have only Christ as its head and therefore only Christian in its name. The Evangelical Synod of North America formed when German folks settled in areas around St. Louis and then migrated up the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys following 1830. The Evangelical Church was created in Germany by an 1817 union of Lutheran and Reformed churches.

 

In 1931 the Congregational and Christian Churches joined together, and in 1934 the Evangelical and Reformed Churches merged into one denomination. In 1957 the United Church of Christ brought together these two groups.

 

Today the United Church of Christ has some 6000 congregations and 1.5 million members throughout the United States. We are divided into 39 Conferences. A General Synod of the entire denomination is held every two years.

 

The United Church of Christ is a Covenantal denomination, which means that we enter the church by committing ourselves to join with others in seeking the truth of God's love in Christ, and not by assenting to any creed. We do claim the truth of the historic creeds of the church, but we say that they are "testimonies of faith" that teach and guide us and not "tests of faith" which exclude.

 

The motto of the United Church of Christ is taken from Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17:21: "that they all may be one."

 

We hold to be very relevant Pastor John Robinson's words to the Pilgrims as they prepared to go to the New World. He told them, "I charge you before God and his blessed Angels to follow me no further than I follow Christ and if God shall reveal anything to you by any other instrument of his, be as ready to receive it as you were to receive any truth by my ministry." He also told them not be closed of mind or heart, "for there is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s holy Word."
 
Another historic phrase that often describes the United Church of Christ goes like this:
In essentials, unity...... In non-essentials, liberty ..... In all things, charity.

December 16, 2017

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