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Friday, February 24, 2006

Come worship Satan at St. James UCC

You might know United Church of Christ from their comma campaign. It was based on a quote by Gracie Allen, who I think was a comedy star in the 30’s. "Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” Not exactly a world class theologian.

It features, for some reason, a particularly sinister looking black comma on a red background with inclusive statements like, “God is still speaking.” They have commercials depicting a well-dressed white family being let into a church while bouncers keep out those of other races, homosexuals, and a person in a wheelchair. I think this is pretty funny but is it necessary to promote one church by tearing others down? They are insinuating that all the other churches don’t allow these people to come.

Really, what church doesn’t allow people with disabilities? That’s just stupid.

If you’re Baptist, think back through your life. Can you remember a single church, even the tinniest one in Podunk, Alabama that didn’t have at least one wheelchair? Did you play with it as a kid?

The website of St. James UCC in Limerick, PA featured a logo with a quote from Satan, “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. –Luke 4:7”

You could really butcher this and come up with something like, “Satan is still speaking”. “Never quote Satan, where God has placed a church.”

They finally noticed and replaced the quote with a phone number. Hopefully it isn’t Satan’s phone number.

For those of you who were kind enough to inform us about our
previously inaccurate quote…

Actually, the quote was dead on. They faithfully quoted Satan word for word using Luke.

There’s a list of firsts on their home page which also has some rather dubious claims.

They claim to be the first denomination to ordain a woman(Antoinette Brown).

I suppose the accidental female pope doesn’t count.

Printed evidence exists that the Society of Friends (Quakers) began discussing the issue in 1660. It appears that they allowed women to serve as ministers at 1700’s possibly sooner. Here is a picture of a woman preaching in a Friends meeting.

(Factoid:Quakers also originated the term “Weighty Friend”.)

The ordination of Antoinette Brown was not recognized by other congregationalist churches and the UCC was not formed until 100 years later. Her seminary did not want to admit her, refused to let her participate in graduation exercises, and denied her a license to preach as was given to other students after graduation, claiming she was not a registered student.

Olympia Brown was the first woman to achieve full ministerial standing recognized by a denomination. She was ordained as a Universalist minister in 1863.

“…we were the first mainline church to take a stand against slavery (1700),”

Once again, it was not a denomination back then and the anarchical nature of congregationalism makes it difficult to claim that the whole church was united and these sentiments were consistently shared. Quakers can much more easily make this claim.

There are records that Society of Friends were discussing the morality of slavery in the early 1700’s. It’s possible that their egalitarianist views may have led to these considerations even earlier than is known.

“…the first to ordain an African American person (1785),”

George Liele, an African American and Baptist who lived in Georgia and South Carolina, was licensed to preach in 1773. His story is really interesting. He started what would eventually become First Baptist Savannah and his churches predate the white Baptist churches in Savannah. He started the first black Baptist church in America and went to Jamaica as a missionary in 1783.

“…the first to ordain openly gay[,] lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons (1972),”

The Catholic church has been looking the other way on this for a long time.

The Rev. James Stoll, a Unitarian Universalist Association minister came out in 1969 and was openly accepted by the UUA.

In 1870, Phebe Ann Coffin Hanaford, who had filled the pulpit for Olympia Brown (first ordained woman), felt what “seemed to be the Lord’s call” and left her husband and children to preach at First Universalist Church of New Haven, Connecticut. The church later split over her political activities and her “wife” Ellen Miles. She formed another church and continued to preach.

Side note here. If ever there was a good example of the necessity of comparing what you think is God’s will to scripture, this is it. Does scripture support a woman ditching her family to preach in

a Universalist church and taking a lesbian lover? If you can exegete your way around that, you probably should be a Universalist.

I think the UCC’s category, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered
persons was too broad as this is obviously a big step from ordaining a

The UUA ordained their first transgendered person in 2000.

“Sara Herwig”, a man who underwent a gender alteration surgery, is actively preaching and was a candidate for ordination in the Boston Presbytery in 2003. I haven’t been able to find if he, uh, this person has been ordained yet.

Nowadays they can turn a man into a woman and a woman into a man but we are still waiting for a cure for cancer, chicken pox shots, laser guns, flying cars, anti-gravity boots, hover boards, holodecks, and a moon base. It seems to me like there are some scientists that need to get their priorities straightened out.

“…the first in foreign missions (1810),”

Laying aside the fact that churches have been following the great commission for 2000 years, let’s go with the context that is intended. Catholics were also probably sending Americans abroad for ministry much before this.

As I previously mentioned George Liele was doing missions 30 years before the UCC. Also I suspect that "First in missions" does not mean actually went but more along the lines of started a mission society. This is certainly legitimate but bear in mind that the following research is all about actually going.

They may be claiming Luther Rice and Adoniram Judson or others who were both affiliated with the Congregationalists but were actually Baptist. You can't just claim your church did everything that wasn't done by Episcopalians.

It could be argued that David Brainerd was a foreign missionary as he went to the Natives in the early 1700’s and that part of continent was not exactly the U.S. or Britain.

William Carrey reached India in 1793. You might be interested to know he helped found The

Particular Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen

(later named the Baptist Missionary Society).

Rice Started a mission society at Williams College some time after 1807.

Judson, Mills, Newell, and Rice were at seminary at Andover starting the missionary movement

sometime from 180?-1812.

Samuel Marsden, a Wesleyan, left for New Zealand and New South Wales from England in 1793.

Henry Nott left for Tahiti in 1796 on a ship named the Duff.

They also claim to have founded Harvard and Yale. This is a bit of a stretch because as was formerly mentioned Congregationalists

were not a denomination back then. John Harvard was a minister for less than a year and then died leaving £800 to a college that already existed.

What I want to know is what did St. James wish for? Did Satan deliver? Did he hold up his end of the deal and give all?

Yes my weighty friends, be proud of your past and that your denomination still knows the bible. The future is up to you.


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