Dan Sack is our congregation’s delegate to the United Church of Christ. This means he’s our voting representative at UCC Potomac Association and Central Atlantic Conference (CAC) meetings. Our church can have more than one representative, and we’d like to have another. If this interests you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
As our delegate and a UCC historian and polity expert, Dan shares the following information about “Our Church’s Wider Mission” of the United Church of Christ (UCC).
There was some discussion in our recent congregational meeting about a budget line under Mission labeled “OCWM.” Here’s an attempt at an explanation, with some context.
Our church is, as you know, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Each UCC congregation is an autonomous unit in a network of relationships. These include the Potomac Association, made up of more than 30 churches in our region from Montgomery County, MD to Richmond, VA; the Central Atlantic Conference, consisting of 167 congregations from New Jersey to Virginia; and the national setting of the UCC, made up of 35 conferences across the United States. The Potomac Association organizes educational events and justice campaigns, helps congregations find pastors, and ordains and disciplines clergy. It and four other associations make up the Central Atlantic Conference. The conference sponsors congregational vitality programs and supports the work of the associations. The national setting produces educational and worship materials, supports local and international mission work, and connects local congregations with Christians around the world.
The UCC is non-hierarchical, meaning these organizations are not levels on an organizational chart but interlocking settings—local, regional, and national manifestations of the church. They are partners in covenant, responsible for their relationships with and carefully considering the mission and priorities of one another.
These covenantal relationships are reflected financially. Every local congregation is asked to contribute to the other settings—a contribution called “Our Church’s Wider Mission” or OCWM. This congregational donation goes to the conference setting, which (at least in our conference) pays for conference staff and a variety of programs. The conference then contributes to the national setting. The UCC’s national budget is supported almost exclusively by local church funds passed along by conferences. The Potomac Association also asks for a donation (effectively dues) from its member congregations, based on membership numbers, to pay for local programming. This amount is a separate line in our church’s budget, under Administration.
A congregation can give as much or as little as they wish to OCWM. A small or non-existent donation incurs no penalty but may lead to questions about how seriously that congregation takes its covenantal relationships. In recent years, congregations facing budget challenges have reduced their OCWM giving, leading to significantly reduced budgets for conference and national settings. The national setting—and resulting opportunities—has shrunk as a result.
OCWM is listed in our budget under Mission & Social Action because it helps the regional and national settings of our denomination carry out their mission, an extension of our own mission in the United States and around the world.
If you’d like to learn more, let me know. Better yet, come to an association meeting with me.
Dan Sack, Delegate