Our community is Congregational in its operation and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its worldwide programs. We are a United Church (covenanted) and a Uniting Church (promoting ecumenical understanding and cooperation with all Christian and faith communities).
The United Church of Christ is a non-hierarchical church based on the belief that we are all called to ministry by our baptism. Each congregation is free to organize its own life and ministry under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; call and dismiss its own clergy; own its own property; elect its own officers; and establish its own budget.
This autonomy is lived out within a covenantal relationship with other congregations for sharing of insights and cooperative action.
Local churches within geographic areas band together in Associations to offer one another mutual support and to strengthen and expand their ministries. Associations, in turn, make up larger geographical areas called Conferences. The Massachusetts Conference (www.macucc.org) has more than 4000 churches in 11 Associations. In covenant with each other, then, we have some 6000 congregations in the UCC, in 198 Associations, and 39 Conferences, doing mission and ministry.
The origins of the UCC
Its foundations are in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century Europe where the Protestant Reformation changed the face of Christendom – and oppression, war and poverty sent men, women and children to different parts of this land. First came the Pilgrims and Puritans from England, who formed Congregational churches. They were soon followed by Swiss and southern German immigrants, who started the Reformed denomination. Later Prussian immigrants arrived and started the Evangelical churches. In the 19th century, frontier congregations joined to form a uniquely American denomination simply called Christian.
While each denomination was different in terms of ethnic origin and specifics of religious belief and practive, all were ecumenical at heart, resulting in the 1931 merger of the Congregational and Christian churches and the 1934 merger of the Evangelical and Reformed branches. The United Church of Christ was established in 1957, when these two denominations joined to form one new church…in response to Jesus’ prayer for his followers: “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).