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History and Polity of the UCC
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Freedom in Community


Lectures and Readings on the History and Polity of the United Church of Christ

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Introduction

Freedom in Community, five lectures on the history and polity of the United Church of Christ, was prepared by the New York Metropolitan Association, United Church of Christ, as part of a two-semester course at New York Theological Seminary.

This course is no longer offered, but the lectures remain valuable resources for those interested in the polity of the United Church of Christ.

For information regarding polity courses offered throughout the United Church of Christ, please contact Richard Sparrow in the Parish Life and Leadership office of our national setting.  He can be reached by phone at 216-736-3881 and by e-mail at sparrowr@ucc.org.


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Synopsis

The five lectures tell the story of the United Church of Christ within the context of the myths America lives by.
  • Lecture I on Myth and History asks why myths are true, how they are different from history and why they are a religious language UCC people need to know.


  • Lecture II on the Myth of the Chosen People asks how this foundational American myth was shaped by the UCC English Puritan and German reform antecedents and how the myth shaped the UCC.


  • Lecture III on the Myth of the Redeemer Nation reminds readers of the UCC's great evangelical heritage and the contributions of the Christian Connection and the German Evangelical churches to liberal evangelicalism.

  • Lecture IV on the Myth of the New World (Order) follows the UCC antecedents into the international and ecumenical vision grounded in their roots and reflects upon the successes and failures of liberal Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Lecture V on the New Reformation brings the UCC into the 21st century of religious frenzy and reconsiders the wisdoms of the Reformation and the UCC for the tasks ahead.

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Additional Readings

Church and Ministry Committees should be aware that these lectures are not a complete UCC history and polity course. They do not cover UCC organization and structure, practice and programs or the nature of and steps toward ministry in the UCC. Candidates for ordination or standing cannot, therefore, say that having read these reflections they have completed a polity course and been certified by the New York Metropolitan Association.

Individuals and Church study groups will get the most out of these lectures if they read them in sequence and supplement them with the following resources:

Hughes, Richard T. Myths America Lives By . Chicago : University of Illinois Press. 2005

Noll, Mark A. The Old Religion in the New World . Grand Rapids MI : William B. Eerdmans 2002

Johnson, Daniel L. and Charles Hambrick-Stowe eds. Theology and Identity . Cleveland OH : United Church Press, 1990

Shinn, Roger. Confessing our Faith . Cleveland OH : United Church Press 1990

Gunnemann, Louis. The Shaping of the United Church of Christ . Cleveland OH : United Church Press 1977.


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