We mourn the victims of mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. As people of faith, we publicly declare our love for LGBTQ people, especially Latinx and Black queer folk. We embrace our Muslim friends, family and neighbors and wish them a Blessed Ramadan. As we pray for peace, we also recommit ourselves to working for a world without violence and oppression.

We acknowledge that this shooting is part of a larger culture of hostility toward transgender, gender nonconforming, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. We reject the use of religion to promote judgment or violence toward LGBTQ people. We disavow rhetoric that seeks to devalue and dehumanize Latinx people. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community against Islamophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry, and the scapegoating of Islam for this act of violence.

As people of faith, we long for a world where love triumphs over hate and fear. Our faith calls us to seek justice. We commit to working so that all people can flourish and live whole, authentic lives. #LoveForOrlando

Our Congregations Are Our Pope

by Jeanine Elliott, Bethel Congregational UCC, Beaverton, OR

be_the_change stand upThe recent death of theologian Marcus Borg saddens me, because I have appreciated his voice as a liberal New Testament scholar and faithful Christian.  Another important current voice is Pope Francis, who courageously speaks about issues of justice.  His voice sometimes startles, sometimes challenges, and occasionally I don’t agree with him.  As head of the Catholic Church, he uses his authority to call for justice.  The pope is making a difference.

In the UCC tradition, we don’t have a pope. Authority is vested in the congregation.  If we don’t speak out and act for justice, who will?  The November 2014 gathering at First Congregational UCC Vancouver, “Stoking the Fires of Justice:  A Revival for Social Change,” brought together local churches and folk from the national UCC Justice and Witness office.  The intent?  To strengthen justice advocacy work in the UCC congregations of the Pacific Northwest.  The meeting raised a question for me:  “What issue does my congregation care enough about to develop a public voice on its behalf?”  Will our church speak like the pope?


by Aleita Hass-Holcombe, First Congregational UCC, Corvallis, OR

just peace church thistlewaiteDid you know that the UCC celebrates 30 years as a Just Peace Church movement in 2015? ( Just Peace Pronouncement ) What does that really mean? For those of you who attended the social justice revival held in Vancouver, WA on November 8, 2014, there was a wonderful opportunity to hear about the legacy of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries. The national staff was awesome and did a great job of “Stoking the Fires of Justice: A Revival for Social Change”.

In particular, the workshop with Michael Neuroth (National Policy Advocate for International Issues), Denise Andersen (Clackamas UCC Pastor) and Chuck Currie (Director of the Pacific University Center for Peace and Spirituality) was especially informative about the value of intentionally identifying as a Just Peace Church.