Becoming an Affiliated Congregation of the UCC

We welcome your inquiry into the process of your congregation affiliating with the United Church of Christ.  The purpose of this document is to introduce you to a three-step process of mutual exploration to guide your local church, the local Association and Conference of the UCC in deciding whether they wish to affiliate. The process is intended to move toward a mutual affirmation of covenant.  The steps leading to this decision are; Exploring, Developing and Affirming Covenant.

We recommend that you and your congregation become familiar with the United Church of Christ, exploring both the UCC web site (www.ucc.org), and the Southeast Conference web site (www.secucc.org).

Chronology of Steps Toward Affiliation

Exploration:

  1. The Pastor of a local church contacts the Conference Minister for an appointment, the purpose of which is to be introduced to the process of affiliation, and to determine whether to take next steps, and what those steps might be.
  2. An informal meeting is held with the Pastor, the Conference Minister and appropriate leaders of the congregation to begin framing the questions that might arise from the congregation and the Association, and then determine a mutual process by which those questions can be addressed.
  3. An Exploration Committee of 3-5 leaders is organized by the church.
  4. If the congregation is currently affiliated with another denomination, the Conference Minister and leadership of the congregation determine how and when the denomination should be informed about the conversation.
  5. As the time line of exploration is developed, the Conference staff in consultation with the congregation determines when they will meet with representatives of the Association.
  6. Elements of the exploration may include but are not limited to:
    1. Meetings with leaders and members of the congregation in both formal and informal settings, including involvement in worship
    2. Presentation to the congregation of an overview of the UCC and the resources available through the denomination
    3. A UCC History and Polity Class appropriate to the needs of the congregation ranging from five to thirteen sessions
    4. A visit for the local church leadership  to the national headquarters of the UCC in Cleveland
    5. Visits with the Conference staff to become familiar with the staff and the program available through the Conference
    6. Visits by Conference staff to worship, including possible invitation to preach
    7. Visits by leaders of the church to meetings of the Conference and Association
    8. Set a date to evaluate the process to this point and determine whether or not to proceed to the next step. If the decision is not to proceed, the congregation may remain in ecumenical relationship with the United Church of Christ.

Developing Covenant:

  1. Select a sponsoring church within the Conference to partner with the church seeking affiliation as it explores a covenant with the United Church of Christ.
  2. Meet with the appropriate committee to be accepted as a Church in Covenant Development, with voice without vote in the life of the Conference.
  3. Establish a Covenant Development Committee, comprised of representation from the church seeking affiliation, the sponsoring congregation, the Conference staff and other representation from the Conference   The purpose of the Committee will be to review the process to this point and determine next steps to assure open and widespread conversations about the affiliation, full knowledge of and familiarity with the UCC in all of its settings.
  4. Begin drafting a Covenant between the congregation and the Conference, in which each names responsibilities and rights in relation to each other, each is called upon to honor and respect the other, and each offers to listen and carefully consider the advice, counsel and requests of the others.
  5. The Local Church in consultation with the other partners determines its readiness to enter into covenant with the United Church of Christ, and when ready, makes a formal request for standing as a congregation of the UCC. If the church does not wish to proceed, they may remain in ecumenical relationship with the United Church of Christ.

Affirming Covenant:

  1. The Church in Covenant Development submits a formal request to the Commissin on Ministry to be received as a congregation with standing in the United Church of Christ. The documents to be attached to this request are to include:
    1. The Constitution and Bylaws of the church revised to reflect membership in the United Church of Christ
    2. Articles of Incorporation
    3. List of Officers
    4. Minutes of the Congregational Meeting at which the congregation voted to join the United Church of Christ
    5. Roster of membership
    6. The most recent  two Annual Reports of the congregation
    7. The most recent Treasurer’s Report
    8. A letter requesting membership in the United Church of Christ
    9. Resume(s) of the pastoral leadership
    10. A letter stating the intention of the minister(s) to seeking ministerial standing in the  UCC
    11. Overview of the program and ministries of the congregation
    12. The Covenant with the United Church of Christ
    13. Other information that present a picture of the church (i.e. news clippings, website, photographs, DVD’s, etc)
  2. At the appropriate setting, the Congregation is voted into membership in the United Church of Christ.
  3. A worship service is held on a Sunday morning with the Local Church, Conference staff and Association representatives present.

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