The Common Good

United Church of Christ

Washington-area UCC Votes to Boycott Washington NFL Team

The United Church of Christ for the mid-Atlantic region passed a resolution Saturday asking its 40,000 members not to buy game tickets or wear any souvenir gear of the Washington NFL club until it changes its embattled team name.

The resolution, which also calls on the team to change its name and refrain from using American Indian imagery, passed unanimously at the UCC’s Central Atlantic Conference in Dover, Del.

“I hope this debate will continue to draw attention to an unhealed wound in our cultural fabric,” the Rev. John Deckenback, conference minister, said in a statement. “Changing the name of the Washington NFL team will not solve the problems of our country’s many trails of broken promises and discriminatory isolation of our Native American communities. However, a change in the nation’s capital can send a strong message.”

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En Route to Sotheby’s, Bay Psalm Book Traces Nation’s Seesaw Religious History

Three hundred and seventy-three years ago, when the chief Puritan “divines” of the young Massachusetts Bay Colony printed their own translation of the Bible’s Book of Psalms, they prided themselves on importing the continent’s very first English printing press and establishing the colony as a cultural and educational center.

What they were certainly not anticipating — the little books sold for 20 pence apiece — was that next Tuesday, Sotheby’s will be auctioning off one of the 11 surviving copies of the Bay Psalter for between $10 and $30 million dollars. In that expected price range, it will be the most expensive book ever sold in public.

A Puritan might read this extraordinary markup as an example of God’s unknowable Providence. An economist might cite the laws of supply and demand. Either way, the blockbuster sale of “The Whole Book of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Meter” caps a fascinating seesaw act of American theology and marketplace. And depending on who wins the auction, it may say a bit more.

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D.C. Clergy Join Push to 'Change the Mascot'

The Oneida Indian Nation’s campaign against the Washington pro football club’s team name picked up new supporters this week when more than two dozen clergy in the Washington region committed to taking the fight to their pulpits.

“Black clergy have been the conscience of America,” Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said to a gathering of roughly 40 people on folding chairs in the basement of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. “This is not a fight we could do by ourselves, or should do by ourselves.”

The Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior minister at Plymouth, asked for a show of hands Wednesday to indicate which clergy members in attendance would be willing to preach against what he termed the “R word.” More than a dozen raised their hands. Hagler said that a different dozen committed to the cause at a clergy breakfast meeting Wednesday and that, all told, he has commitments from roughly 100 clergy members to talk to their congregations in coming weeks.

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Church That Stood Up For Gay Rights Faces Closure

The small stack of envelopes that arrives at Grace Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul, Minn., each day are filled with good will and small bills – ones, fives and tens mostly.

The donations lift the spirit, said Rev. Oliver White, but they likely won't be enough to save the church.

“Technically, we should be packing,” White said.

On June 1, the church will likely default on a high-interest loan and lose its building, unless it can come up with $175,000 to buy the loan out.

As of Wednesday (May 16), Grace Community was about $170,000 short, but its plight has gained considerable attention within and without the UCC, thanks to one of several reasons the predominantly African-American church may lose its home.

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Minnesota Church Finds the High Price of Supporting Gays

A small Minnesota church is finding out the high cost of standing up for same-sex equality — as well as an unexpected lifeline from the very people it decided to support.

When the Rev. Oliver White voted in favor of the United Church of Christ's endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2005, 72 percent of his predominantly African-American flock at Grace Community United Church in St. Paul couldn't stand with him.

The UCC's 2005 vote, he said, was "the beginning of the end of many UCC churches." Predominantly black churches like his suffered the most, he said, because the black community "was, and still is, very homophobic."

Because of White's vote, his church developed a reputation of being a "gay church" and people stopped coming. And stopped giving.

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More than 1,000 Arrested Protesting Keystone XL Pipeline

As of yesterday, more than 1,009 Americans have been arrested to bring national attention to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. This is what church looks like. Liturgy means "the work of the people" in service of the common good.

If President Obama permits the Keystone pipeline, thousands more will sit on his doorstep and in front of bulldozers. This movement doesn't have money to match the influence of oil companies, lobbyists, or politicians with conflicts of interest, but we do have our bodies and we are putting them on the line.

Here are what people of faith -- Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Quakers, Unitarians, and more -- are saying about why they have been or will be arrested to stop the Keystone XL pipeline:

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Observing the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 by Sharing Faith

The email came just a few days before two Jewish rabbis and two Muslim friends joined two of us Christian ministers for a Sunday morning service. This service was part of a national event called Faith Shared.

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Libya, Just War, and Augustine

It was on the shores of North Africa that one of the greatest Christian thinkers tried to work out the relationship between Jesus' teachings about loving even enemies and the impending invasion by
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In the Midst of Fasting, I am so Grateful

On day three of my prayer fast, I woke up with the hymn, "I Am So Grateful," which the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ Children's Choir sang beautifully yesterday, running through m
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