The Congregational Way

“We covenant with God, and one with another; and we do bind our selves in the presence of God, to walk together in all God’s ways, according as God is pleased to reveal unto us in the blessed word of truth.

—from the Salem Covenant of 1629

Part of what makes MCUCC and the broader United Church of Christ different is the way we’re put together, the way we organize ourselves for doing the work of people following the way of Jesus.

While other churches have bishops and district superintendents and conventions and local clergy who tend to enforce uniformity from the top down, the UCC is a bottom-up organization. We use what’s called “congregational polity,” meaning that members of local congregations make almost every decision in the life of the church.

To do what the local church can’t do alone, such as international mission work, congregations like ours come together as larger regional conferences (ours is the Central Pacific Conference) and a national General Synod, which meets every odd year. But local UCC congregations call our own pastors, elect our own leaders, have our own missions, and organize ourselves any way we see fit.

We hold congregational meetings early and often, in the tradition of the New England town meeting, so that everyone can be heard on how the church is run and what it ministry is.  The congregation is organic, changing with the needs of the congregation and the community it serves.

It can be a bit messy—The United Church of Christ has been called “a heady, exasperating mix”—but this Congregational Way keeps us diverse, builds in a lot of breathing room for the Holy Spirit, and unleashes creativity as we seek to put the gospel to work in the world today.