Saturday, March 18, 2006

FWC and UCC: Stay Put

All of this week’s postings focus on issues related to my denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC) and my involvement with Faithful & Welcoming Churches (FWC)—a renewal movement within the UCC. Our church hosts a regional FWC meeting on March 15.

Before the Little River Congregational UCC called me to be their pastor ten years ago, I’d never set foot in Kansas. None of my relatives ever talked about Kansas, so it was safe to assume I had no prior roots here.

Every other summer my parents come out from Ohio for a visit. After taking them to tourist attractions like the Hutchinson Cosmosphere and Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, I was running out of ideas for entertainment. So when they came out in 1999, I asked them, “What do you want to do?” They said, “We want to go to Hudson.”


Those who live in Kansas know that some wonderful flour called Hudson Crème is milled there, but not my Ohio parents. So I asked, “Why do you want to go to Hudson?”

They said, “You remember your Aunt Cloe, don’t you?”

She’s not really my aunt, but she is a relative on my Dad’s side of the family.

“Of course,” I replied. “Those summer trips to her house in Michigan—and watching those huge freighters float down the Detroit River, I’ll never forget.”

My Dad said, “We believe that years ago, Cloe’s father started a church in Hudson. We’d like to see if its still there.”

The town of Hudson was familiar to me because I’d seen it listed in our UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference directory. I looked up the church in question, spoke to the pastor by phone, and made an appointment to visit.

The next day, we made the two-hour drive to Hudson, population 400, and to Hudson Trinity UCC. The pastor greeted us at the door, took us inside his office, opened a safe, and pulled an old book. We started looking for the name of Cloe’s father.

Sure enough, there it was—Rev. Herbert Pister.

That day, I discovered for the first time that I had family and spiritual roots in Kansas.

This past January, Hudson Trinity voted to leave the United Church of Christ.

Four other churches in Kansas have also left the denomination since General Synod 25 declared its support for Equal Marriage Rights for All, or same-sex marriage.

Faithful & Welcoming Churches, a UCC grassroots renewal movement of which I’m a board member, believes these churches—and dozens of others—have left because the UCC has forgotten its original vision of “united and uniting” to embrace a misguided social agenda—making that the center of its life.

Faithful & Welcoming Churches seeks to return the UCC to its original vision.

And give discontent UCC churches a reason to stay in the denomination—rather than get out.

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