The United Church of Christ is a non-creedal denomination. There is no list of things that people have to believe in order to be part of our community. But while we might not have a list, we do have things that tend to bind us together. We often use seven phrases from scripture and tradition to describe these.
That they may all be one (John 17:21).
That they may all be one is the motto of the United Church of Christ. Our denomination was created when several denominations joined together as one in 1957, and this motto reflects the spirit of unity on which we are based. It also points towards a future where the divisions of the body of Christ are healed. We are a united church, and we are a uniting church.
In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity.
The unity that we seek is not about the uncritical acceptance of all points of view. It also isn’t about maintaining a rigid dogma. We seek to be in an ongoing and loving conversation about which aspects of our life together demand our total agreement and which aspects give us the freedom of diversity.
The unity of the church is not of its own making.
The unity of the church is a gift from God. Expressions of that unity are incredibly diverse, but these is a common thread running through all of them: love.
Testimonies of faith, not tests of faith.
Faith can be expressed in many different ways, so we have no single formula that is a test of faith. We respect the creeds, confessions, catechisms, and other statements of faith that the church has created through the centuries as important testimonies of faith. The testimonies that are particularly important to us are the Bible, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform, the Kansas City Statement of Faith, and the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ.
There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s holy word.
This statement, by one of the founders of the Congregational tradition, recognized the Bible as the authoritative source of understanding the gospel and as a foundation for all statements of faith. Even though the Bible was written in specific historical times and places, it still speaks to us in our present condition. The study of the scriptures is not limited by past interpretations, but it is pursued with the expectation of new insights and God’s help for living today.
The priesthood of all believers.
All members of the United Church of Christ are called to minister to others and to participate as equals in the common worship of God, each with direct access to the mercies of God through personal prayer and devotion. Some of our ministers are specially trained in pastoral, priestly, educational, and administrative functions. These clergy are servant-leaders, not unquestionable authorities. Their task is to guide, to instruct, to enable the ministry of all Christians rather than to do the work of ministry for us.
As individual members of the body of Christ, we are free to believe and act in accordance with our perception of God’s will for our lives. But we are called to live in a loving, covenantal relationship with one another, gathering in communities of faith, congregations of believers, local churches.
As a congregation, we are free to act according to the collective decisions of our members, guided by the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. We are also called in live in covenantal relationship with other congregations and bodies of the United Church of Christ.