Creating a new progressive ecumenical church

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The Rev. Chuck Currie calls for a new progressive ecumenical church relationship.

The divisions that we face within our denominations, the decline of the mainline church over the last generation, and the changing realities we face in a society more pluralistic than ever beg the question of whether or not we are — any of us, regardless of denomination — doing church in the right way. So today, I come with a proposal. Let’s throw out the rule book, break with tradition, look to the future with our eyes open and hearts centered on living out the Greatest Commandment, and perhaps even bring together some of our denominations under one new banner — a new united church — that reflects a belief that living out God’s mission for the world is more important than bureaucracy and polity, the laws that govern our churches.

What am I suggesting? Within the mainline tradition there is a growing consensus moving our churches in a progressive theological direction. We read the Hebrew Scripture and the stories of the Prophets, and their battles for economic justice resonate with our own times. As we reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus as shared with us in the Christian New Testament we hear God calling us further to be a people of justice concerned with the “least of these” and with those on the margins. Jesus’ own teachings have called many of us to embrace movements of liberation for Africans, Latin Americans, women, and gays and lesbians. We believe that those who use the Bible to justify discrimination or who wield Holy Scripture as a partisan political weapon to divide are the heirs of those who just a generation ago used the Bible to justify Jim Crow laws and worse. Those of us who still hear God speaking — a slogan of the United Church of Christ that can also be explained as feeling the Holy Spirit opening up our hearts in new and exciting ways just as Jesus did for his community and time — need to band together and live out the unity that we are called to live in Christ in new and more substantial ways. Hear it all below:

This sermon was delivered by The Rev. Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ minister, at Portland, Ore.’s First United Methodist Church on April 29. The Scripture readings included 1 John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18.

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Peter Pearson
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Peter Pearson

Consolidating a number of churches does not create a new church or more churches but actually lessens the number if I am understanding the goal here. I am for anything that brings believers together to pray and to serve. But institutions live to perpetuate themselves and I cannot see a bunch of bishops and church house staffs eager to join the ranks of the unemployed no matter how lofty the goal. That part will need to be well considered and planned.

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Chris Epting
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Yes, well that was the dream of COCU (the Consultation on Church Union) over 40 years ago. This proposed union of AME, AMEZ, CME, Disciples, TEC, UMC, PCUSA, and UCC is now a shadow of its former self called "Churces Uniting in Christ." Mergers are easier dreamed than accomplished.

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Nicole Porter
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Nicole Porter

I think "giant" might be a bit of an overstatement, don't you think? Conservative churches vastly outnumber the ones who have taken a liberal bent.

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Josh Magda
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Josh Magda

What would happen, if say in 15-20 years when the mainline church is even smaller, the traditional denominations consolidated their financial, liturgical, real estate and theological wealth, and became an institution that was much more lightweight, but also more effective, with the ability to bring the best of tradition forward with what Spirit has been trying to get us to do the last 150 years, in a multitude of geographically and culturally appropriate forms, as a clear alternative to the fundamentalist presence in the US?

I'm excited by the prospect, as we really are a sleeping giant.

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Nicole Porter
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Nicole Porter

Isn't there enough churches already? Like some 33,000+?

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