Offered to the newly gathering Mashpee United Church of Christ as a study/working document and a focal point for theological, biblical and general discussion.
As God gathers a new United Church of Christ congregation in the Town of Mashpee, Massachusetts there is a clear calling to "do a new thing" (Isa. 44:19). In covenantal relationship with UCC churches whose roots go back to the 17th century, we celebrate the call to become the first new congregation of our tradition on Cape Cod in over 80 years.
We are a Still Speaking congregation with extravagant welcome and evangelical courage in this 50th anniversary year of the denomination.
We understand ourselves to be responding to the repeated calls of our General Synods that we be a people committed to inclusion, justice, and care for creation in the name of Christ.
Guided by the Spirit and with the hope of spreading the love of God and the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we announce our vision for this new church:
We will live as a safe place in which people are accepted no matter who they are or where they are on life's journey.
(Eph. 2:19) We will seek to help people encounter the holy and to be transformed by God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. We encourage questions of faith and hope to help all find their own answers. As an Open and Affirming congregation (Col. 3: 11) we seek to provide a place for all people that will help them move deeper into relationship with God and others, living together with care, forgiveness, reconciliation and joy.(Col. 3: 12-17) We take the Bible seriously but not literally knowing that there is "yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word." We will seek to help our children build a foundational Christian basis for their daily lives.
We will live as a community deeply concerned for the environment.
We commit to being a "Green" church as we make all and any decisions around the development of a future site with special consideration of the fragile ecosystem of Cape Cod. As individual members, we will be open to changing personal life patterns and choices that contribute to global warming by seeking to reduce the carbon footprint of our homes. (Gen. 1: 26)
We will strive to be a Covenant Keeper Church.
We affirm the declaration: "Our Church's Wider Mission: It's who we are." We intend to commit a minimum of 10% of our annual total church income to OCWM and to be a congregation that speaks freely and openly of both church and personal stewardship. (Gen. 9: 9; 28: 22)
God is still speaking and as a new congregation in the 21st century of Christianity, we intend through worship, fellowship and education to listen to that voice. We love our rich heritage and joyfully embrace it. But the world is changing quickly and the time for bridge building is now. If we want to leave our children a sustainable world, then the opportunities for reconciliation, peacemaking and a relevant Christian faith must not escape us. (Micah 6: 8)
Glossary of Terms
General Synod XXV
-we gather as a national church every two years. General Synod XXV occurred in June of 2005 and the minutes of all the plenary sessions may be reviewed at www.ucc.org/synod
Open and Affirming
-the Open and Affirming (ONA) process began on the national level of the church in 1985. For a full explanation see www.ucc.org/lgbt/ona.html
"God hath yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word."
- John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrims who set sail from Holland for the New World in 1620. For his writings go to www.pilgrimhall.org/robinson.htm
- "Green or sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. Research and experience increasingly demonstrate that when buildings are designed and operated with their lifecycle impacts in mind, they can provide great environmental, economic, and social benefits." (www.epa.gov/greenbuilding
- "A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide." (www.carbonfootprint.com
Covenant Keeper Church
- "Covenant Keepers" are UCC churches that support Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) Basic Support with "leadership generosity." They step out and take the lead in annual giving to the financial lifeblood of the United Church of Christ. There are only 284 Covenant Keeper churches (out of a total 5,633 UCC congregations). Each one of them gives more than 10% of their operating budget to OCWM Basic Support.
Some "Covenant Keeper" churches have big congregations and big budgets... and some are small churches with modest budgets. They have this in common: they put a priority on sharing from what they have with the wider church. www.ucc.org/steward/covenantkeepers.