Baptists who are moving to the UCC

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Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:37 am

http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/people/ ... ucc-church

Interesting article about a former CBF moderator who is moving to ministry in the UCC and another Baptist pastor and journalist moving to a UCC church here in Iowa.

http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/people/ ... ts-for-ucc

I've worshipped several times at Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines. It is a good church.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Haruo » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:50 am

It seems to me that for a Baptist who isn't particularly gung-ho for immersion, and who is on the liberal end of most social and theological issues of the day, the UCC may make for a good fit. Many well-known liberal ABC churches are dually aligned with the UCC, including Riverside and Judson in NYC; Peter Gomes was ordained ABC but served at Harvard.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:49 am

From an organizational standpoint, the UCC is a good fit for those who self-identify, or are considered to be "on the left" when it comes to their Baptist identity. I believe there's a former member of this board, Joshua Villines, who served for a while as an associate at a dually aligned Baptist-UCC congregation in Atlanta.

I have to smile just a little, at some of the rhetoric involved when a pastor moves on. I understand the sense of ministry calling. But whether you're conservative or liberal, the language surrounding a move doesn't change much.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:45 am

Haruo wrote:It seems to me that for a Baptist who isn't particularly gung-ho for immersion, and who is on the liberal end of most social and theological issues of the day, the UCC may make for a good fit. Many well-known liberal ABC churches are dually aligned with the UCC, including Riverside and Judson in NYC; Peter Gomes was ordained ABC but served at Harvard.


Yes, at one time when the ABC used to put out its "red book" which listed all the churches you could easily tell that quite a few ABC churches in the NE were dually alligned UCC.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:46 am

Sandy wrote:
I have to smile just a little, at some of the rhetoric involved when a pastor moves on. I understand the sense of ministry calling. But whether you're conservative or liberal, the language surrounding a move doesn't change much.


It is a lot easier just to be able to say, "the Bishop has decided to appoint me to...." :wink:
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:18 am

Ah, yes, though unfortunately, with both Baptists and UCC, that's not possible. Being honest might work. Some suggestions, tongue in cheek of course.

"I've been here fifteen years, and the church is half the size it was when I came. I'm sorry I haven't been able to motivate you deadbeat people to do evangelism and outreach, so I found a congregation that is willing to commit to something better for me. Catch ya' later."

"My resume is always up to date, and circulating, and it wound up in a larger congregation with a bigger salary, nicer sanctuary, bigger expense allowance and which will employ my wife as preschool and children's minister. We took it."

"I see that the neighborhood around our church is changing, so I am getting out before the attendance declines and you cut my salary."

"You're tired of me, I'm certainly tired of you, so I put my resume out and am going to a place where I can start over with my bag of tricks."

Don't know if that applies to the pastors mentioned in this thread, but I'll bet that hits home more often than not.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:34 am

Well, "The Bishop moved me..." can be a similarly misleading if the pastor wanted to move and leaves out something like "because I requested a move and wanted the heck out of here!" :D Or, "The Bishop is moving me because you asked him/her to get rid of me." etc.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:41 am

Back on topic, I think if someone was leaving the Baptist fold and wanted polity not too different from the Baptist world probably the UCC or maybe the DOC would be the two easiest choices.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Haruo » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:51 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:Back on topic, I think if someone was leaving the Baptist fold and wanted polity not too different from the Baptist world probably the UCC or maybe the DOC would be the two easiest choices.

Again this only applies if you're on the left side of Baptist (and DOC has the advantage of being immersionist). Those in the middle to right portions might find something nondenominational, or Church of God, etc., more palatable. Or Evangelical Free, or the Covenanters, or... If you're as soft on Sundays as you are on immersion, what about the SDA. Etc. And then there are the less liberal portions of the old Congregationalists, like the NACCC, which might be a good fit for a lot of moderates. (I'm guessing. Don't really know what they're like, but I know they're congregationalists polity-wise.)
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:11 pm

True Haruo. I was thinking that most of the clergy I know who have left SBC related life have left because they thought the SBC was too convservative. It probably has as much to do with the people I know and the circles I travel in. But I really don't know many clergy who left the SBC for another denomination who didn't do so to go to something more liberal. Sandy or other conservatives in the group might be able to think of friends who have done so.

Right now though I know (or know about) former SBC pastors who are no longer Baptist who are UCC, DOC, PCUSA, UMC, and TEC. There are probably others in other denominations. I just don't know about it. I've honestly run into more former Baptists in the UMC than I expected.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:15 pm

I had a good friend who was ordained in a Southern Baptist church, and was called to a D of C congregation as their "interim," then was called as their pastor and never went through the process of getting credentials in the D of C. That particular congregation was a bit more conservative than the denomination, their worship guy was SBC as well. It was through knowing him that I discovered the independence and autonomy of the D of C, which is quite strong. But according to him, it's tough to get a pulpit in the D of C. They have a lot of ministers in their late 50's and 60's, and very few vacancies open up, because of a steep decline in membership, attendance and finances. Many of their pastors now serve two congregations.

The UCC appears to be in a downward membership trend as well, at least if the info they report to Wikipedia is correct. The 2002 Handbook of Denominations has their 2000 membership at 1.7 million, but the current report shows just under 980,000. Likewise the D of C figures are 1.2 million in 2000, and 625,000 in 2013. I know a lot of that depends on how they count members, some denominations using the attendance report from year to year, others the "head tax" that congregations pay based on membership to the denomination. But I think if those numbers are close to correct, pastoral opportunities might not be abundant.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Ed Pettibone » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:50 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:True Haruo. I was thinking that most of the clergy I know who have left SBC related life have left because they thought the SBC was too convservative. It probably has as much to do with the people I know and the circles I travel in. But I really don't know many clergy who left the SBC for another denomination who didn't do so to go to something more liberal. Sandy or other conservatives in the group might be able to think of friends who have done so.

Right now though I know (or know about) former SBC pastors who are no longer Baptist who are UCC, DOC, PCUSA, UMC, and TEC. There are probably others in other denominations. I just don't know about it. I've honestly run into more former Baptists in the UMC than I expected.


Ed: Tim when you say "I think if someone was leaving the Baptist fold and wanted polity not too different from the Baptist world probably the UCC or maybe the DOC would be the two easiest choices." I am inclined to agree but, In 1998 when we moved to Cincinnati we could nor find an SBC church that would accept me, and we where about to give up on Baptist and explored both the UCC and the DOC and then stumbled an ABC-USA setting that was a good fit. In my perception the DOC was too exclusive, and that was at the time that the UCC in their inclusiveness formally accepted homosexuality as an alternative life style. Both where deal breakers for me. As you know churches in the ABC-USA pretty well cover the full spectrum. I can live with that as long as we are in one that has less than the extreme perimeters. Should that no longer be a reality, we have discussed getting a motor home and having a campground Ministry as long as we can travel. When we can no longer travel full time we will probably settle in Missouri or Arkansas. If we can't find a church I would look for a younger couple to mentor in creating a progressive independent Baptist church in the model of my ideal CBF/ABC congregation.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby KeithE » Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:08 pm

We have an ex UCC minister (still active in counseling and tennis) attending our church because he found it "reverent and congenial"
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:16 pm

Ed, I think the local UCC churches are much like the ABC in that the local church decides if they are going to follow the views of the denomination or not. My impression is that the UCC is over all more liberal than the ABC but I do know there are individual congregations that would probably agree with many of your views. Be that as it may, It sounds like you made the choice that fits your faith the best. That is what matters.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Shawn Koester » Mon May 30, 2016 4:14 pm

The UCC is an interesting case study in Congregationalism because their tradition is a blend of Congregational (Reformed Anglicans/Presbyterians), Reformed (Presbyterian), Evangelical (Lutheran) and some congregations that wanted no part in the Stone Campbell movement (Christian). Their polity is both bottom up (congregationalism) and top down (hierarchical- Presbyterian/Lutheran). UCC polity does jive well with either Disciples or Baptist polity because we are bottom up with no top down. UCC is more clerical than either Baptist or Disciples traditions. I wouldn't fit too well in many parts of the UCC because while I am LGBT affirming, and affirming of women in ministry, they would look with suspicion at my Evangelical and Baptist identities. If I were to serve with the UCC it would have to be in places like Trinity UCC Chicago, or Victory for the World in Stone Mountain GA. if I were to be a Congregationalist it would have to be with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC). The UCC would be a good fit for those who are theologically and/or socially liberal, and weren't too keen on baptism by immersion.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon May 30, 2016 4:20 pm

I like the UCC's social stands. But Congregationalist is a deal breaker. I don't think I'm likely to ever serve another church with congregational polity.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Sandy » Mon May 30, 2016 11:27 pm

Shawn Koester wrote: I wouldn't fit too well in many parts of the UCC because while I am LGBT affirming, and affirming of women in ministry, they would look with suspicion at my Evangelical and Baptist identities.


Not necessarily. I've known some UCC congregations that are genuinely diverse and accepting of Evangelicals and Baptists as much as they would be of Christians from much further to the left. In fact, one of the UCC congregations close to where I live now has several families who send their children to our fairly conservative, Evangelical Christian school. We also have some D of C and UMC folks who not only don't seem to have a problem with our doctrinal statement, which includes inerrancy. I think the congregational nature of the UCC, and the blending of denominational groups that formed it make it pretty theologically diverse.

Shawn Koester wrote: If I were to serve with the UCC it would have to be in places like Trinity UCC Chicago.


Interesting comment. If I may ask, why? Frame of reference--I've visited Trinity UCC in Chicago. So I'd be interested in knowing why that particular church would be of interest to you.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Shawn Koester » Tue May 31, 2016 10:43 am

Trinity UCC Chicago appeals to me in many ways. It's unashamedly Evangelical, it's an open and affirming church in the black church tradition and adhering to liberation theology. Love their worship style and its familiar to me and other Baptists. They baptize by immersion and I love their missional work both in Chicago and abroad.
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Shawn Koester wrote: I wouldn't fit too well in many parts of the UCC because while I am LGBT affirming, and affirming of women in ministry, they would look with suspicion at my Evangelical and Baptist identities.


Not necessarily. I've known some UCC congregations that are genuinely diverse and accepting of Evangelicals and Baptists as much as they would be of Christians from much further to the left. In fact, one of the UCC congregations close to where I live now has several families who send their children to our fairly conservative, Evangelical Christian school. We also have some D of C and UMC folks who not only don't seem to have a problem with our doctrinal statement, which includes inerrancy. I think the congregational nature of the UCC, and the blending of denominational groups that formed it make it pretty theologically diverse.

Shawn Koester wrote: If I were to serve with the UCC it would have to be in places like Trinity UCC Chicago.


Interesting comment. If I may ask, why? Frame of reference--I've visited Trinity UCC in Chicago. So I'd be interested in knowing why that particular church would be of interest to you.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Shawn Koester » Mon May 15, 2017 10:50 pm

UCC is actually a hierarchical congregationalism both embodying a bottom up congregationalism from the Congregational Christian strand, along with a top down hierarchical polity inherited from the Evangelical (Lutheran) & Reformed (Presbyterian) tradition. Disciples are more bottom up congregationalism.
Timothy Bonney wrote:I like the UCC's social stands. But Congregationalist is a deal breaker. I don't think I'm likely to ever serve another church with congregational polity.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue May 16, 2017 4:11 pm

The congregation in the UCC still has the final say on its life. Where the connectionalism happens in the UCC is with ordination and national denominational policies. It actually isn't structured all that different from the ABC/USA in some respects.

At this point in my life I have come to appreciate the historic episcopacy.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Chris » Tue May 23, 2017 2:28 pm

Haruo wrote:It seems to me that for a Baptist who isn't particularly gung-ho for immersion, and who is on the liberal end of most social and theological issues of the day, the UCC may make for a good fit.

When the day comes that I cannot find a Baptist church within 40 miles, which doesnt have a praise band and drop-down PowerPoint screen, I am probably headed to UCC.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Shawn Koester » Tue May 23, 2017 5:49 pm

If you want all the great things about being Baptist, and the opportunity to celebrate at the Lord's Table every week, I would recommend going to the Disciples (DOC). The UCC is too clerical, too hierarchical and too keen on infant baptism for my taste. I speak as a third generation Baptist.
Chris wrote:
Haruo wrote:It seems to me that for a Baptist who isn't particularly gung-ho for immersion, and who is on the liberal end of most social and theological issues of the day, the UCC may make for a good fit.

When the day comes that I cannot find a Baptist church within 40 miles, which doesnt have a praise band and drop-down PowerPoint screen, I am probably headed to UCC.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue May 23, 2017 5:56 pm

Funny, I would say the UCC is neither hierarchical enough or clerical enough for my taste. :-)

I would concur that the DOC is a good choice for many former Baptists.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby KeithE » Tue May 23, 2017 6:11 pm

KeithE wrote:We have an ex UCC minister (still active in counseling and tennis) attending our church because he found it "reverent and congenial"

I forgot to mention one lady (Alice Hunt) who went our church for a few years circa 1995 who is now the President of the Chicago Seminary (the lead UCC Seminary). She grew up as a missionary kid for a long term Baptist missionary family Bob and Rosalind Hunt (China and Burma). She attended Vanderbilt Seminary when going to our church along with the infamous Ellin Jimmerson . She lived directly across the street from Ellin and across the street from me up a few houses; Brandy babysat for her children frequently. I team taught SS with her one year and she showed me up for sure - she had a great personality coupled with a lot of knowledge.

So there is an example of a Baptist who moved to the UCC and has done very well for herself.
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Re: Baptists who are moving to the UCC

Postby Haruo » Tue May 23, 2017 9:08 pm

KeithE wrote:the infamous Ellin Jimmerson

One of my brothers, on the other hand, moved to the UCC and is now pretty much an avowed atheist. Not that I think God holds atheism against people.

But Keith, I have to thank you for point Ellin Jimmerson out to me; every once in a while for a week or so Facebook decides to feature her where I am looking, and it's always worth it.
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