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United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 as a union of two denominations: The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. We descend from several Reformation streams including the Calvinist Puritans, French Huguenots, and Swiss followers of Zwingli. Our polity follows the Congregational model, with each congregation as an autonomous entity, making all its own decisions. Congregations are linked in covenant in small regional units (Associations), larger regional units (Conferences, often one or several states), and nationally. Our national offices are in Cleveland, Ohio. The modern UCC is firmly in the progressive Protestant tradition.


We recognize two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. The only theological belief that the Constitution of the UCC sets out is the belief that Jesus is Lord and Savior. The UCC (and predecessor denominations) has had women clergy for well over a hundred years, was the first mainline denomination to ordain LGBT clergy, and has taken many progressive social justice stands over the years. Because of our polity, however, individual congregations may or may not support these stands. In worship style, theological beliefs and church governance, if you have been to one UCC church, you’ve been to one!! You join a UCC church in one of two ways. If you are already a member of a church with whom the UCC has a formal relationship (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Reformed Church in America, Methodist, American Baptist) then you request a letter of transfer from your current church. If not, then you join by “Reaffirmation of Faith” during a liturgy in a worship service. Most UCC churches have membership classes of some kind which may be one or more sessions long.

Clergy are ordained in the UCC to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. That ministry can be exercised in local congregations, in chaplaincies of all kinds, in social service organizations and in teaching. While candidates can be approved for ordination pending a specific call, you cannot be ordained until an “appropriate” call has been made. For the first call, that usually means a place where you clearly need ordination. That means the need to Baptize or consecrate Holy Communion. The decision to ordain is made by the Association. Clergy hold membership in their local congregation, either the one they serve or, if not in parish ministry, one they choose.


Ordination Process:

  • Join a UCC congregation and be a member for at least one year.

  • Request that the congregation receive you as a Member in Discernment (MID). Most churches have a committee or Board of Deacons who work with those seeking ordination. Each congregation will have different requirements, but all will include working on a paper discussing your call to ministry and some basic beliefs about God, Church and ministry.

  • If church recommends, you apply to Association for MID status. Paper will go to them along with other materials they will specify (usually includes recommendations, transcripts, etc.)

  • Association accepts and appoints an advisor/mentor/liaison. You will meet with the Association Committee on Ministry at least once a year.

  • When you have fulfilled all their requirements (see above), then you may apply for approval for ordination. This usually involves a paper and meeting. If the Committee approves, then

  • Ecclesiastical Council. This is a larger meeting where you make a presentation based on your Ordination Paper and then clergy and lay delegates from all the Association congregations will vote on your fitness for ministry. If vote is affirmative, you are approved for ordination pending call. For ordination to happen, the Committee on Ministry will need to approve a call as an “ordainable” call.

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