My reporting on the United Church of Christ convention in Atlanta is online now at ChristianityToday.com.
Although evangelicals remaining in the United Church of Christ have grown accustomed to scenes at the national synod like the cross-dressed Transgender Gospel Choir singing Amazing Grace, decisions at the July meeting in Atlanta were disturbing to the theologically conservative remnant in the most liberal Christian denomination in America.
The UCC Synod passed resolutions endorsing gay marriage and supporting divestment of funds involving Israel.
Jesus is Lord Resolution Seen as Bright SpotAt the same time, the Synod passed a resolution affirming the person and work of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, while refusing to add the affirmation to ordination vows.
Rev. David Runnion-Bareford, director of the Biblical Witness Fellowship, a voice for evangelical renewal in the UCC, is disappointed in the gay marriage and divestment decisions but not surprised by actions of the Synod, which he says is out of touch with UCC churches.
“We draw encouragement from resurgence in hundreds of UCC-affiliated local churches where the Gospel is being preached for the first time in years,” Runnion-Bareford said. “In an internal survey, 27 percent of people who attend UCC churches identify themselves as evangelical. And two-thirds of the local churches in the UCC send no funds to the national group.”
Rev. Brent Becker of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Cibolo, Texas, who wrote an unsuccessful counter-resolution affirming marriage as the union of a man and woman, said:
“The leadership hailed the July 4 resolution endorsing gay marriage as some kind of independence for the denomination. I believe it signaled the Synod’s independence from the clear teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19: 4-6, and the counsel of the rest of Scripture. It established UCC independence from every other Christian group, and from the beliefs and scholarship of 2000 years of church history.”