Blaine UCC belongs to the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination. The UCC is a fairly young denomination. It formed in 1957 with the merger of the German Reformed Church, Evangelical Church, Christian Church, and Congregational Church. Blaine UCC comes from the Congregational line and still uses “Congregational” on its outdoor sign and most of its stationary. To understand Blaine UCC, you must understand both the present day UCC and the Congregationalist history.
First, Congregational Church history: Congregationalists are best known for being early settlers in the United States. They controlled both the political and social arena. In fact, one had to be a member of the Congregationalist church to vote (UCC History n.d.) Luckily, church and state have now been separated; however, being a “member” and voting is still important to the Congregationalist church including Blaine UCC. In Congregationalist churches, the laity, not the clergy, hold the power. Every year there is an annual meeting where lay delegates are nominated to offices such as Moderator, Vice-Moderator, Secretary, Treasurer, and to various committees (Finance, Outreach & Social Justice, Worship. Faith & Fellowship, & Trustees). Then, the various committees then meet and elect chairpersons. The chairpersons and the church officers then meet on a regular schedule to conduct church business. This is often called the church council. The pastor attends church council gives a report, and shares a vision or goals, but has no vote. Should something require a by-law change or change to the constitution, it goes to a special vote of all the members. This is very different from most churches where the pastor holds power and can make decisions. The pastor at Blaine UCC cannot make decisions about who can use the church or purchases that need to be made without church council approval
The relationship between Blaine UCC and the national UCC is similar to that of the church and its pastor. The denomination is headed by an executive council that was voted on by general synod, a meeting made up of conference delegates that meets every four years. Conferences are larger areas that have yearly meetings made up of delegates from local churches. Everything trickles down to the local church. However, the denomination cannot mandate decisions for the local church. It can pass resolutions, but the local church doesn’t have to follow them. “The first national UCC body to affirm civil rights for LGBT people did so in 1969” (About Our LGBT Ministries n.d.) but Blaine UCC did not become open and affirming (welcoming of all genders/sexualities) until fifteen years ago, and there are still churches within the denomination who do not officially welcome LGBTQIA folks in their worship spaces.
To learn more visit UCC.org
Blaine UCC belongs to the Pacific Northwest Conference which covers Washington, parts of Idaho, and Alaska. Learn more about them at PNCUCC.org.