To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.
United in Spirit, inspired by God’s grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
It may seem a bit sacrilegious or absurd to talk about a church’s brand. Branding is for soap and airlines and other such widgets. But that’s what a denomination is—a brand. Or more precisely, a name. Time for a little history here. (It’s me—of course there’s some history.) Once upon a time there was just The Church—one fairly uniform Christian organization, based in Rome with congregations across Europe. After the Reformation of the 16th century the church was no longer uniform across Europe—if you lived in one part of Germany you were one kind of Christian and if you lived in another part of Germany you were another kind of Christian, etc. But they still thought of themselves as The Church. When those Christians came to North America, however, those different kinds of Christians they started living next to each other. They couldn’t all be The Church, so they had to call themselves something. Those different kinds of Christians became denominations. They adopted, in modern parlance, brands—names, identities, sometimes even logos.
But at the same time our UCC is rolling out a new denominational identity campaign, surveys suggest that denominational identity is fading across the United States. A recent Gallup poll reports that just 30 percent of American adults identified with a specific Protestant denomination in 2016, down from 50 percent in 2000. Over the same timeframe, the percentage of Americans who regard themselves as Christians without claiming a specific denomination rose from 9 percent to 17 percent.
That means that the UCC label means something to fewer and fewer people walking in our doors—not to mention those already inside. How then do we talk about our identity and our mission, both as an individual congregation and as a congregation of the United Church of Christ? That’s an interesting question as we look towards our centennial year.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Summer Film Series, 8/16— The last of three acclaimed documentaries will screen on 8/16 at 7 pm in the Sanctuary. Call Me Malcolm is an amazing story of the human spirit and the struggle to realize and express one’s truest sense of self. This brave film offers a glimpse into Malcolm’s life and into the lives of others who identify as transgender, showing how shame and fear can be overcome by grace, compassion and knowledge: www.callmemalcolm.com. Please invite your friends and neighbors!
St. Paul’s Food Pantry, 8/19—We need six volunteers to serve from 9 am-Noon at St. Paul’s Food Pantry, located at 4900 Connecticut Ave, www.stpaulslutherandc.org. Please email Jennifer: email@example.com.
Mid-Year Congregational Lunch & Meeting, 8/27—Join Pastor Ellen, the Cabinet and other Lay Leaders for a festive lunch and mid-year check in. We’ll share results from the recent survey, provide details about the strategic planning process, and preview this year’s 100th Anniversary events.
Sunday School Update—Our Sunday School is on summer break through Labor Day. Children are welcome in worship and the Nursery is open for childcare. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.