The United Church of Christ, as a denomination, has left its mark on religious and political history since the Pilgrims sought spiritual freedom in 1620. in 2004, our denomination updated our language describing who we are with the phrase God is still speaking...
The United Church of Christ was the first denomination to:
- stand against slavery in 1700
- ordain an African American pastor in 1785
- ordain a woman pastor in 1853
- ordain an openly gay minister in 1972
- voted to affirm gay marriage in 2005 and
- voted to divest from fossil fuel companies in 2013.
Formation of the United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957. It is the result of the intertwining of four strands of Christianity.
- The Congregational Church composed in 1648 from the union of the Pilgrims and the Puritans. The Pilgrims first left England for Holland in search for religious freedom then in 1620 sailed from Holland to America. The Puritans came to America in 1629 to be “a city on a hill.”
- The Reformed Church began in Switzerland and Germany during the 1500s, with Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin as their founding leaders. From 1700-1740, the Reformed people moved to America to escape persecution and poverty.
- The Evangelical Church was initially formed in 1817 when German Lutherans and German Reformed churches united to become the Evangelical United Church of Prussia. In 1830-1840s, they migrated to America as refugees from war.
- The Christian Church was formed in 1810 in the American frontier by people who were discontent and withdrew from their specific denominations:
- In 1794, the Methodists of Virginia
- In 1801, the Baptists in Vermont
- In 1803, the Presbyterians in Kentucky
These various groups attempted to form a simpler way of being church. After the civil war, freed slaves also became a part of the Christian Church.
In 1931, the Congregational and the Christian Churches joined together to form the Congregational Christian Church.
In 1934, the Reformed and the Evangelical Churches joined together to form the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
In June 1957, the Congregational Christian churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Churches decided to covenant together, honoring their four strands of history and joining together to worship and serve God as a body of Christ, becoming the United Church of Christ.