Creating a new progressive ecumenical church

The Rev. Chuck Currie calls for a new progressive ecumenical church relationship.

The divisions that we face within our denominations, the decline of the mainline church over the last generation, and the changing realities we face in a society more pluralistic than ever beg the question of whether or not we are — any of us, regardless of denomination — doing church in the right way. So today, I come with a proposal. Let’s throw out the rule book, break with tradition, look to the future with our eyes open and hearts centered on living out the Greatest Commandment, and perhaps even bring together some of our denominations under one new banner — a new united church — that reflects a belief that living out God’s mission for the world is more important than bureaucracy and polity, the laws that govern our churches.

What am I suggesting? Within the mainline tradition there is a growing consensus moving our churches in a progressive theological direction. We read the Hebrew Scripture and the stories of the Prophets, and their battles for economic justice resonate with our own times. As we reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus as shared with us in the Christian New Testament we hear God calling us further to be a people of justice concerned with the “least of these” and with those on the margins. Jesus’ own teachings have called many of us to embrace movements of liberation for Africans, Latin Americans, women, and gays and lesbians. We believe that those who use the Bible to justify discrimination or who wield Holy Scripture as a partisan political weapon to divide are the heirs of those who just a generation ago used the Bible to justify Jim Crow laws and worse. Those of us who still hear God speaking — a slogan of the United Church of Christ that can also be explained as feeling the Holy Spirit opening up our hearts in new and exciting ways just as Jesus did for his community and time — need to band together and live out the unity that we are called to live in Christ in new and more substantial ways. Hear it all below:

This sermon was delivered by The Rev. Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ minister, at Portland, Ore.’s First United Methodist Church on April 29. The Scripture readings included 1 John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18.

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