Who We Are
Your first question probably will be something like this. What is the Congregational United Church of Christ? Good question! We hope you’ll come and check us out to see the ‘living, breathing’ reality of the wonderful grace and hope of the United Church of Christ in Pierre, but hopefully this short ‘preview’ will build your interest to find out more!
The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Church.
The Congregational Churches were organized when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation(1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony(1629) acknowledged their essential unity. The Reformed Church traced its beginnings to German settlers in Pennsylvania, founded from 1725 on. Later other Reformed people arrived from Switzerland. The Christian churches sprang up in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s as a reaction to the theological and organizational rigidity of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches of the time. The Evangelical Synod of North America traces its beginnings to an association of German Evangelical pastors in Missouri. Through the years, the UCC has gained further diversity as Native American church, African American churches and Asian Americans have become a part of the celebration of unity with diversity!
And so the four denominations become the character that draws us together in this unity. We are:
- CHRISTIAN. We are part of the body of Christ. We continue the witness of the early disciples to the reality and power of the crucified and risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
- REFORMED. All four denominations arose from the tradition of the Protestant Reformers. We confess the authority of one Triune God. We affirm the primacy of Scriptures, the doctrine of justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the principle of Christian freedom. We celebrate two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Communion.
- CONGREGATIONAL. The basic unit of the United Church of Christ is the local church. Members of each congregation covenant with one another and with God as revealed to Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These congregations, in turn, exist in covenantal relationships with one another to form larger structures for more effective mission. Our covenanting emphasizes trustful relationships rather than legal agreements.
- EVANGELICAL. The primary task of the church is the proclamation of the gospel, or evangel – the good news of God’s love revealed with power in Jesus Christ. We proclaim this gospel in word and deed to individual persons and to society. This proclamation is the heart of the liturgia – the work of the people. We gather each Sunday for worship, and through the week live out our faith in service to humanity and creation.