What We Believe
Our beliefs may be summarized by significant phrases commonly used by Christians, which express the commitments of the United Church of Christ.
• That they may all be one (John 17:21). This motto of the United Church of Christ reflects the spirit of unity on which the church is based and points toward future efforts to heal the divisions in the body of Christ. We are a uniting church as well as a united church.
• In essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, in all things charity. The unity that we seek requires neither an uncritical acceptance of any point of view nor a rigid formulation of doctrine. It does require mutual understanding and agreement as to which aspects of the Christian faith and life are essential.
The unity of the church is not of its own making. It is a gift of God. But expressions of that unity are as diverse as there are individuals. The common thread that runs through all is love.
• Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith. Because faith can be expressed in many different ways, the United Church of Christ has no formula that is a test of faith. Down through the centuries, however, Christians have shared their faith with one another through creeds, confessions, catechisms, and other statements of faith. Historic statements such as the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform, and the Kansas City Statement of Faith are valued as authentic testimonies of faith.
In 1959, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a statement of faith prepared especially for the United Church. Since that time a revision was made by Robert V. Moss, president of the United Church of Christ, 1969-76, and recommended for use by the Eleventh General Synod, 1977. Another revision, in the form of a Doxology, was affirmed by the Fourteenth General Synod (1981). Both revisions use inclusive language. "The Revision of 1981: A Doxology" is the version printed in this brochure. The statement is widely used as a common affirmation of faith in worship and as a basis for study.
• There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word. This classic statement assumes the primacy of the Bible as a source for understanding the good news and as a foundation for all statements of faith. It recognizes that the Bible, though written in specific historical times and places, still speaks to us in our present condition. It declares that the study of the Scriptures is not limited by past interpretations but is to be pursued with expectancy for new insights and help for living today.
• The priesthood of all believers. All members of the United Church of Christ are called to minister to others and to participate as equals in the common worship of God, each with direct access to the mercies of God through personal prayer and devotion.
Recognition is given to those among us who have received special training in pastoral, priestly, educational, and administrative functions, but these persons are regarded as ministers-servants rather than as persons in authority. Their task is to guide, to instruct, and to enable all Christians to do the work of ministry rather than to do the work of ministry for us.
• Responsible freedom. As individual members, we are free to believe and act in accordance with our perception of God's will for our lives. But we are called to live in a loving, covenantal relationship with one another - gathering in communities of faith, congregations of believers, and local churches.
Each congregation or local church is free to act in accordance with the collective decisions of its members, guided by the working of the Spirit in the light of the Scriptures. But it is also called to live in a covenantal relationship with other congregations for the sharing of insights and for cooperative action.
Likewise, associations of churches, conferences, the General Synod, and national boards and agencies of the United Church of Christ are free to act in their particular spheres of responsibility. Yet all are constrained by love to live in a covenantal relationship with one another and with the local churches in order to make manifest the unity of the body of Christ and thus to carry out God's mission in the world more effectively.
The members, congregations, associations, conferences, General Synod, and national instrumentalities are free in relation to the world. We affirm that the authority of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and interpreted with the aid of the Holy Spirit, stands above and judges all human culture, institutions, and laws. But we recognize our calling both as individuals and as the church to live in the world:
· ministering to its needs
· contributing to the welfare of all
· being enriched by those aspects of culture that help to make human life more human
· working through institutions and supporting laws that reflect God's just and loving purposes for the world
· seeking justice and liberation for all
Statement of Faith
The Revision of 1981: A Doxology*
We believe in you, 0 God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being,
create persons in your own image,
and set before each one the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous
will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified
and risen Savior, you have come to us
and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death
and reconciling the world to yourself.
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit,
creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your church
to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world
and resist the powers of evil,
to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you
forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing,
and eternal life in your realm which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you.
*Statement of Faith, Revised 1981 (in the form of a Doxology), affirmed by the Fourteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ.