Carefully Crafted on September 08


Much ado was made earlier this year about statements — both those simply taken out of context for political gain and those that were completely inappropriate — about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor at Trinity UCC. You know, the church formerly known as Barack Obama’s church.

The UCC (United Church of Christ) unfairly got dragged through the mud during that entire ordeal. I think the church missed a wonderful PR opportunity to educate people about what we believe. How often is a relatively new denomination like that in the national spotlight? But that’s besides the point …

The UCC that people heard about on the media is not the UCC that I know. I’ve been attending First Congregational Church of Winter Park for a couple of years now. We got married there. I donate time and money to the church. It’s the first time that I can remember really being excited about my church. Part of that is because they practice what they preach. I went to a Lutheran church in Ohio previously and I don’t think I could say the same for that church. (I’m sure my grandfather is turning over in his grave as I write this!)

My experience with the UCC was perfectly illustrated this weekend. During church, the pastor announced that the latest devotional books were available in the fellowship hall. The pastor encouraged members to take one of the books. I volunteer as a co-facilitator of a support group for survivors of domestic violence. This group of women talk a lot about how their faith has given them the strength to overcome the violence and start to put their lives back together. Sitting in church, I thought these women might enjoy receiving a copy of this devotional. That meant I needed to take at least 12 copies. The books were intended for church members, so I didn’t want to be presmptious and just take extra copies.  I asked one of the women who works at the church if she thought it would be okay for me to take some extra copies of the books for my group of women. Without asking any questions, she invited me to take as many copies as I needed. Afterall, she said, they were there for people who needed them.

Many churches would have asked if the women were part of this denomination … of if they’d consider being members. But not the UCC. My UCC just wants to help — regardless of race, religion, economic standing. None of that matters in my UCC.

Most people don’t know much about the UCC — only the little bit they heard earlier this year. Well, rest assured, the UCC that I know is open-minded, committed to helping people (even non-members) and believes that God is still speaking and that we should all try to do a better job of listening. It’s really a great church. Don’t be fooled into thinking Jeremiah Wright is the best representation of what we believe.


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