Ponderings – August 2023

Ponderings! A message from Rev Gloria

General Synod of the UCC took the opportunity to correct our foundational history as a denomination. Everyone who has been a part of the United Church of Christ for a long time or participated in confirmation classes were taught that the UCC originated from the uniting of four denominational streams. Yet, through the study of our historical papers and a willingness to address the historical facts that were ignored due to systemic racism, another denominational stream has been added to our historical story.

History acknowledged that the UCC was comprised of four denominations: Congregational, Christian, Evangelical and Reformed. The Christian and Congregational had previously united into a denomination as well as the Evangelical and Reformed denominations. Yet, in 1957, the Afro-Christian Convention also united with the UCC and brought into the fold at least “150 churches, 25,000 members, 185 ordained ministers and licentiates, and 150 Sunday schools, located primarily … in North Carolina and Virginia”, according to the research of the Rev. Virginia Delk.

“Following the Civil War, these churches gathered and worked in local Conferences that consolidated in 1892 to form the Afro-Christian Convention,” she said. “In spite of the many challenges of racism that it encountered, it operated in the form and function of other Protestant denominations. It met biennially, had a publishing house, divisions of Christian education, local and foreign missions, strong women’s auxiliaries, and more.” (Speller, Julia. 2023. Afro-Christian Convention The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ Chapter 6).

On July 3, 2023, The Reverend Doctor John Dorhauer as General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ offered an apology to all members and churches from the fifth stream:
“I grieve that, now having celebrated our 66th anniversary, three generations of United Church of Christ children have gone through confirmation being told that there were only four streams present at our birthing, There were always five.” …

“On behalf of the United Church of Christ, and to the leaders active in and descended from the Afro-Christian stream of our beloved faith, and in recognition of the sin of centering whiteness, I hereby issue an apology for my and our complicity in and with the manifestations of white privilege that motivated some us to set this table without you,” (D’Agostino, Maic. United Church News. Dorhauer apologizes to Afro-Christian Convention for ‘rewriting of our history’. Jul 4, 2023).

Our church and denomination stands on the shoulder of many faithful Christians. I hope you will take the opportunity to read information available on the UCC.org website by typing Afro-Christian Convention into the search engine or by purchasing the book: Afro-Christian Convention – The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ edited by Virginia Delk.

Blessings, Rev. Dr. Gloria