Who We Are
Our Lived Theology
Sometimes theology can, in fact, be best expressed in a “bumper sticker.” Some of ours would be:
- Our Faith is Over 2,000 Years Old, Our Thinking is Not;
- Jesus Didn’t Turn People Away, Neither Do We;
- Never Place a Period Where God has Placed a Comma;
- God has yet More Truth and Light to Break Forth from God’s Holy Word;
- To Believe is to Care, to Care is to Do.
In longer words, Central is a Christian community of faith that works to take the Jesus vision, message, and mission seriously and we struggle to interpret those teachings and apply them to our modern living.
We believe that the Love of God still yearns to transform the way that we live. One of the most powerful expressions of that Love is an Extravagant Welcome. At Central, we welcome everybody: no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome at Central. Central, among other things, is a community where:
- Our campus is accessible to all, regardless of physical ability;
- Children and teens are given our best resources to empower their ongoing spiritual development;
- We provide weekday programming for our aging adults at Plymouth Harbor;
- Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons are welcomed into full participation in the life of the community;
- Peace is sought by working for justice;
- We seek to live “the questions of life” together more than applying universal answers;
- Other Christian and non-Christian faith traditions illumine our spiritual path;
We seek spiritual refuge on our forested hill and are a compassionate presence in the world.
Sometimes our history does influence and inform our present. Just a few of our “historical highlights” include (download more information: http://www.ucc.org/50/pdfs/firsts.pdf):
2005: Marriage equality
On July 4, the General Synod, meeting in Atlanta, overwhelmingly passes a resolution supporting same-gender marriage equality. UCC General Minister and President John Thomas says that the Synod “has acted courageously to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of same gender couples … and encouraging our local churches to celebrate and bless those marriages.”
1993: Apology accepted
Sometimes “being first” means being the first to admit a past mistake. In Hawai’i, UCC President Paul Sherry apologizes on behalf of the church for the complicity of missionaries in the 1893 overthrow of Hawai’i’s government and leader, Queen Lili’uokalani. $3.5 million is pledged to native Hawai’ian churches and a non-profit organization.
1976: First African- American leader of an integrated denomination
General Synod elects the Rev. Joseph H. Evans president of the United Church of Christ. He becomes the first African American leader of a racially integrated mainline church in the United States.
1972: Ordination of first openly gay minister
The UCC’s Golden Gate Association ordains the first openly gay person as a minister in a mainline Protestant denomination: the Rev. William R. Johnson. In the following three decades, General Synod urges equal rights for homosexual citizens and calls on congregations to welcome gay, lesbian and bisexual members.
1957: Spiritual and ethnic traditions unite
The United Church of Christ is born when the Evangelical and Reformed Church unites with the Congregational Christian Churches. The new community embraces a rich variety of spiritual traditions and embraces believers of African, Asian, Pacific, Latin American, Native American and European descent.
1897: Social Gospel movement denounces economic oppression
Congregationalist Washington Gladden is one of the first leaders of the Social Gospel movement, which takes literally the commandment of Jesus to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Social Gospel preachers denounce injustice and the exploitation of the poor. He writes a hymn that summarizes his creed: “Light up your Word: the fettered page from killing bondage free.”
1853: First woman pastor
Antoinette Brown is the first woman since New Testament times ordained as a Christian minister, and perhaps the first woman in history elected to serve a Christian congregation as pastor. At her ordination a friend, Methodist minister Luther Lee, defends “a woman’s right to preach the Gospel.” He quotes the New Testament: “There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
1785: First ordained African-American pastor
Lemuel Haynes is the first African-American ordained by a Protestant denomination. He becomes a world-renowned preacher and writer.
1700: An early stand against slavery
Congregationalists are among the first Americans to take a stand against slavery. The Rev. Samuel Sewall writes the first anti-slavery pamphlet in America, “The Selling of Joseph.” Sewall lays the foundation for the abolitionist movement that comes more than a century later.
1620: Pilgrims Seek Spiritual Freedom
Seeking spiritual freedom, forbears of the United Church of Christ prepare to leave Europe for the New World. Later generations know them as the Pilgrims. Their pastor, John Robinson, urges them as they depart to keep their minds and hearts open to new ways. God, he says, “has yet more light and truth to break forth out of his holy Word.”