Peace Church is part of the United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC is a protestant denomination that has its roots in the Protestant Reformation in both Germany and the United Kingdom. It spread through the Pilgrims of New England (who established the Congregational Church) and German settlers who emigrated through Pennsylvania, establishing the Reformed Church. Each group flourished and literally were a part of the foundation of this country as we know it today.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the Congregationalists merged with an indigenous pioneer spirited church called the “Christian Church.” They became known as the Congregational Christian Church or CC. A few years later, the Reformed Church merged with another church body called the Evangelical Church. This had been founded by a second wave of immigrants from Germany, coming in the later part of the 19th century and settling the center of the USA. They became known as the Evangelical & Reformed Church or E & R. At the end of the 1950’s these two bodies came together, forming the United Church of Christ. These mergers had at their heart a desire for Christian Unity. In a real sense, they were trying to “fix” the schisms caused by our founders in England, Germany, Switzerland, and France.
As the United Church of Christ has developed, dominant themes have become important: unity, welcoming spirit, social justice, being non-judgmental, education, thinking, freedom, being non-hierarchical. Yes, all of these.
Authority rests with church members not with the denomination.
Throughout our history, the United Church of Christ has been a part of the very fabric of this country. In many ways the national structure of the USA models the structure of the Congregational Church. Interesting. The liberty bell was hidden in a Reformed Church when the British were looking to destroy it.
Some of the earliest educational institutions of this country were established by the Congregationalists, initially to educate clergy but quickly moving beyond. Key examples are Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth. Both the Evangelicals and Reformed Churches established their own institutions of higher education.
Our historic denominations led the way in the abolitionist movement, the women suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and the LGBTQ movement. In the 18th century we had ordained people of color. We were the first to ordain a female clergy person as well as the first openly gay clergy person.
We have led the way in advocating for LGBTQ rights, including same sex marriage, climate control, and social justice.
UCC outreach is not only throughout the USA but throughout the world.
Leading has not always been easy, and yet the denomination has led. Meanwhile we encourage people to think freely and independently. We encourage our local congregations to adapt to their local settings.
We have several mottos that we claim:
That they all may be one.
Be the Church
God is still speaking,
No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
To believe is to care. To care is to do.
Want to learn more? Its best to visit www.ucc.org. There are lots of amazing resources that tell the story of the UCC past and present and our dreams for tomorrow.