A Statement Passed at the Annual Meeting of First Congregational United Church of Christ on January 26, 2003
We, the community of First Congregational United Church of Christ, have long been committed to social justice, and to racial and cultural diversity. We celebrate the diversity of our membership, of the many who use the hospitality of our building, and of our city.
We were founded in 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War by Abolitionists committed to racial equality. The founding of Howard University in 1867 was a major early achievement of our church. A dispute over welcoming African-Americans at the same communion table divided the new church, culminating in 1869 when the segregationists, led by the pastor, withdrew. Howard University purchased the note on the new building, saving us for this day.
Our denomination, the United Church of Christ, was formed in 1957 from four distinct denominations, inspired by the prayer of Jesus Christ that they may all be one. The new denomination was dedicated to being a united and uniting church. This tradition of inclusion is a prophetic call to our ministry.
In 1973 and again in 1986, we responded to the exclusion of gays and lesbians from full participation in many churches. In 1973 we entered into a covenant with the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington to share space and ministry. In 1986 we declared ourselves an Open and Affirming church.
We declared ourselves a Just Peace church in 1985, dedicating ourselves to work for a peace based upon social justice. We strive to be an accessible church for people with disabilities, overcoming both physical and attitudinal barriers.
In 1993 the 19th General Synod of the United Church of Christ in St. Louis, Missouri adopted A Pronouncement and Proposal for Action on Becoming a Multiracial and Multicultural Church calling on us to be racially and culturally inclusive throughout the life of the church. We are responding to that call.
Despite varied and recurrent efforts, racism and cultural biases have not been extinguished from our midst. When we read the Apostle Paul declaring that there is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, we recognize the call to claim an identity which is deeper than race and culture, one which affirms our unity and calls us to be a beloved community, a community where each and every one is the beloved of God.
We therefore declare ourselves a Multiracial and Multicultural church. In a Multiracial and Multicultural church all have a place at the table of Christ within the household of God: one body, one family, no insiders, no outsiders, each person’s gifts recognized and affirmed. Further, we pledge that the fruit of the Multiracial and Multicultural church will be manifest in our staffing, our music and worship, our programs, our relationships, and our outreach.
By affirming ourselves as a Multiracial and Multicultural church, we are expanding our response to God’s call to be the beloved community. Our purpose is not simply to welcome the stranger, but to know ourselves as one with the stranger; not simply to make our community more diverse, but to become one with the whole community of God. By claiming our identity as a Multiracial and Multicultural church, we commit ourselves to a path of discernment and action which will lead us toward the fulfillment of Christ’s prayer that we may all be one. We acknowledge that our essential identity is grounded in that oneness. We commit ourselves to proclaiming this message beyond our walls and to supporting others who likewise seek to be the beloved community.