Archive for the ‘United Church of Christ’ Category

UCC Leaders Speak Out About Bullying

October 12, 2010

Leaders in the United Church of Christ released a statement encouraging people of faith to take action to stop anti-gay bullying. The statement was in response to a series of recent suicides of gay youth. Read the statement here.

It Gets Better!

October 7, 2010

Dan Savage

In response to the recent spate of suicides of gay youth across the country, columnist Dan Savage has launched a YouTube channel called “It Gets Better” with messages to offer hope to LGBT youth. You can even add your own.

One pastor last week delivered a sermon of hope, also in response to our recent losses. Rev. Nicolette Siragusa, the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Grand Lege, Michigan, is a graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a friend of this writer.

Pride Fest Inspires Pride Sermon

August 24, 2010

Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, minister of the Community United Church of Christ in Champaign, preached a sermon with a message of welcome and inclusion on the occasion of Champaign-Urbana PrideFest, this weekend. The sermon is on Youtube in two parts:

New Book Guides Clergy in Supporting Couples

August 3, 2010

The Pilgrim Press, the publishing house of United Church of Christ, recently released All Whom God Has Joined, a guide book for clergy both for leading same-sex weddings or blessing ceremonies, as well as how to provide spiritual support to same sex couples. The authors, Leanne McCall Tigert and Maren C. Tirabassi, are both UCC clergy. I haven’t had a chance to read this book myself, but it certainly sounds like it could be helpful to religious leaders well beyond the UCC.

Where Does Your Denomination Stand?

June 9, 2010

Yesterday, I shared a link to Pride month resources from The Religious Institute. Today, I want to share another fantastic resource from the same organization.

The Religious Institute recently launched a searchable database of statements from many major denominations regarding issues related to sexuality, including marriage equality.

The database includes the statements from the following traditions that have expressed support for marriage equality:
Unitarian Universalist Association, 1996
Union for Reform Judaism, 1997
Society for Humanistic Judaism, 2004
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, 2004
United Church of Christ, 2005
Metropolitan Community Churches, undated

Other traditions have issued more nuanced statements that indicate steps toward recognizing same-sex couples, while stopping short of full equality:
United Methodist Church, 2004
Presbyterian Church (USA), 2004
Episcopal Church, 2006
Episcopal Church, 2009
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2009

Of course, official denominational statements offer only a partial picture. In every denomination that has embraced marriage equality, there are undoubtedly many clergy and lay members who still oppose it. And likewise, in even the most conversative traditions, there are those who support the equality for same-sex couples. Nonetheless, taken collectively, these official statements are important signs of movement toward greater openness and respect.

Chicago Area Churches Celebrate Pride Month

June 3, 2010

The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches has announced a series of June events in honor of Pride month.

JUNE (various dates) – CLASS/COACHING GROUP – “Choose Life: A Heart-Centered Approach at Coming Out Crossroads” by Rev. Jacki Belile, a lesbian Baptist minister & spiritual life coach at Living Well Ministries, 6554 N. Rockwell. 7 PM to 9 PM (Tuesdays June 8-22). $15/session. Optional Meditation 7-7:20 PM/ Program 7:30-9 PM. Part of annual Pride series by members of Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. 773-655-4357.

JUNE 9 – WORSHIP SERVICE – Annual Pride gathering at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 716 W. Addison. 7 PM. Part of annual Pride series by members of Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. 773-281-2655.

JUNE 16 – ECUMENICAL SERVICE – “Any Body, Every Body, Christ’s Body: Celebrating 25 Years Being Open and Affirming” at Congregational United Church of Christ, 1001 West Kirchoff Rd., Arlington Heights, IL. 7:30 PM. Part of annual Pride series by members of Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. 847-392-6650.

JUNE 23 – EUCHARIST/HOLY COMMUNION CELEBRATION – “From Promise to Pride” at Resurrection Lutheran Church, 3309 N. Seminary. 7 PM. Part of annual Pride series by members of Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. 773-525-0605.

JUNE 26 – WORKSHOP – “Befriending the Bible: Reading Condemnation with CARE” by Living Well Ministries, 6554 N. Rockwell. Led by Rev. Jacki Belile, a lesbian Baptist minister & spiritual life coach. 1 PM to 4 PM. Pre-registration required: $45 ($35 if paid by June 10). Part of annual Pride series by members of Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. 773-655-4357.

For a complete list of Chicago area pride events, visit the Chicago Pride Calendar.

UCC Pastor Shares Personal Reflections

May 20, 2010

Rev. Rex Piercy, pastor of Congregational Church of Arlington Heights

Rev. Rex Piercy, pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ of Arlington Heights, a member congregation of the United Church of Christ, is proud that his home state of Iowa was one of the first states in the nation to legalize same-sex marraige. As a man in a long-term same-sex relationship, he is hoping that the state where he lives now will follow suit. He shared the following comments with the Illinois Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry:

When the church gathers to worship on July 4, 2010 it will have been five years to the day since the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed its resolution called “Equal Marriage Rights for All.” Significant things have happened since that vote. One very positive thing was that my home state of Iowa (Iowa you say!) became the Midwest leader in equal marriage rights for all. Not Illinois, not Wisconsin, not Minnesota…Iowa! It made me so proud. It makes me so sad that my new adopted state of Illinois cannot even find its way to support civil unions, let alone full marriage equality. My experience as a gay man in a long-term committed relationship and as the pastor of an “open and affirming” congregation in the United Church of Christ suggests to me that the civil and religious leaders of this state must hold serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenant relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender as a basic right. 

If you are a clergy person or a member of a religious congregation in Illinois and share Rev. Piercy’s call for justice for same-sex couples, please sign the petition at this link to proclaim your support for a state law allowing for civil unions.

Couple Using Wedding to Raise Awareness

May 1, 2010

Brad and T.J.

T.J. and Brad, a couple living in northwest Chicago, are planning to use their wedding this summer to raise awareness about the need for equality for same-sex couples. T.J. and Brad will be getting a wedding license in D.C. and having a wedding ceremony in New York City at the famous Riverside Church, which is dually affiliated with the United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches USA. Along the way, they plan to stop in several other locations to meet with local civil rights and religious leaders. Here in Chicago, the couple attend Trinity United Church of Christ. For more information, visit their blog, Journey to Riverside.

If you are an Illinois same-sex couple getting married, either in a religious or a legal ceremony, please announce your engagement or your wedding on this blog. Just e-mail your news to

Theologian Supports Freedom to Marry

April 22, 2010

Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a leading feminist theologian and former president of Chicago Theological Seminary, recently wrote for the Washington Post’s web site about her support for same sex Marriage. Thistlethwaite is a fellow at the Center for American Progress and is a member of the clergy in the United Church of Christ. She remains a professor of theology at Chicago Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the UCC, and is the author of numerous books.

UCC Advertisement Features Lesbian Wedding

April 20, 2010

Check out this new video from the United Church of Christ. Pay attention to the scene of two women getting married at the 36-second mark. The video also appears to feature two dads with a son at 1:17.

The UCC passed a resolution at its 2005 general synod meeting in support of same-sex marriage. This wasn’t the denomination’s first time to blaze a trail on lgbt concerns. In 1972, with the ordination of William Johnson, the UCC became the first mainline Christian denomination to ordain an openly gay or lesbian person. 

This isn’t the first time that the denomination has taken on LGBT issues in their innovative advertising. Check out these previous videos, which were banned on some television networks, here and here.