The United Church of Christ
First Congregational Church is part of the United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC is a diverse denomination that came into being when several distinct Christian traditions merged in 1957. One of those root denominations, The Congregational Church, traces its history back to the Pilgrims. Today, the UCC is a “united and uniting” church that welcomes everyone and actively cooperates with other faith traditions. Throughout its history, the UCC has lived out its faith in God by responding to the needs and concerns of the world through social responsibility and action. Today, the United Church of Christ has almost 5,000 congregations with about 3/4 million members spread across the United States.
Sometimes the United Church of Christ is jokingly referred to as the comma church, being known for the phrase, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" which is attributed to Gracie Allen. The comma speaks to how scripture/sacred text is interpreted. Many like to suggest that scripture is unchanging, "God has spoken." In the UCC, it is believed that revelation is ongoing. The period is replaced by a comma. God is continuing to speak. When read, the Bible is to be heard in its historical and literary context. Not everything is literal, for instance a parable and metaphor are obviously not to be taken literally. Historical understandings change. Norms and customs change. An example might be that of the family which evolves throughout the Bible as does the understanding of God. This historical and literary reading of scripture/sacred text has been taught in seminaries and embraced by many denominations, it is simply that the United Church of Christ has more openly affirmed that revelation is fluid, multi layered, and ongoing.
The relatively new United Church of Christ logo is the blue circle with a three layered comma folded into it. The comma itself looks a little like a praying person. It is intentionally more "spiritually" oriented than "religiously" oriented. In this particular case, the new logo has been attached to another new innitiative called Three Great Loves (Love of Children, Love of Neighbor, Love of Creation) and a "Just World for All". It is intentional that the comma (see above paragraph) is speaking to all of these. This also calls attention to the denomination as being justice oriented that very much believes loving children, others and the world calls the church into active engagement. As a result, the UCC and its antecedent denominations (Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, Reformed) were at the forefront of anti-slavery, women in leadership/empowerment, a woman's primacy over her own body, Civil Rights, LGTBQIA+ rights, environmental justice, education for all, healthcare, and racial justice. The United Church of Christ is constantly changing and evolving as it listens to God's call for justice, inclusion, and love. Each decade brings new initiatives.
To learn more about the United Church of Christ, visit: Home - United Church of Christ (ucc.org)
In Illinois, First Congregational UCC is a part of the Illinos Conference: Illinois Conference | Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ (ilucc.org)