Frequently Asked Questions
What do we believe?
This is a challenge to answer, as the UCC has no overarching governing body that determines the specifics of faith and practice. There is a great deal of theological diversity within the UCC, and within Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ. Perhaps the best way to tell you about the UCC is with the help of seven phrases from Scripture and tradition which express our commitments.
- That they may all be one. [John 17:21] This motto of the United Church of Christ reflects the spirit of unity upon which the church is based, and points toward future efforts to heal the divisions in the body of Christ. We are a uniting church as well as a united church.
- In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things charity. The unity that we seek is based on mutual understanding as to which aspects of the Christian faith and life are essential.
- The unity of the church is not of its own making. Unity is a gift of God. But expressions of that unity are as diverse as we are as individuals. The common thread that runs through all is love.
- Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith. Because faith can be expressed in many different ways, the United Church of Christ has no formula that is a test of faith. Historic statements such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and others, are valued as authentic testimonies of faith.
- There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s holy word. This affirmation recognizes that the Bible, though written in specific historical times and places, still speaks to us in our present condition. It declares that the study of the scriptures is not limited by past interpretations, but is pursued with the expectation of new insights and God’s help for living today.
- The Priesthood of All Believers. All members of the United Church of Christ are called to minister to others, and to participate as equals in the common worship of God, each with direct access to the mercies of God through personal prayer and devotion. Ordained clergy and other leaders in our church serve to guide, instruct, and enable the ministry of all Christians, rather than to do the work of ministry for us.
- Responsible Freedom. As individual members of the Body of Christ, we are free to believe and act in accordance with our perception of God’s will for our lives. But we are called to live in a loving, covenantal relationship with one another.
Each United Church of Christ congregation is free to act in accordance with the collective decisions of its members, guided by the working of the Spirit in the light of the scriptures. But it also is called to live in a covenantal relationship with other congregations for the sharing of insights and for cooperative action under the authority of Christ.
Where did this church come from?
The church was founded in 1923, and is the oldest established building and organization in Coral Gables. George Merrick, the architect and developer of Coral Gables, was the son of a Congregational Minister. To honor his father, he built this church, which has continued to be both a historic site and a significant force in this community. Known for its inspiring worship, outstanding music and arts program, a premiere Early Childhood Center, and a bold and prophetic outreach program, the church is a place of solace, sanctuary, and spiritual growth for thousands of people every year.
Who runs the church?
Ultimately, the congregation decides all matters by consensus in public meetings. The biggest such meeting is the annual congregational meeting, which occurs over lunch on the last Sunday in January. For the rest of the year, regular business is delegated to various boards and the church council, whose members are elected by the congregation at the annual meeting.
To what denomination do you belong?
Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ is part of the United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. Each of these was, in turn, the result of a union of two earlier traditions. Our roots are in the great Reformation movement, as well as with the Pilgrims who came to the United States searching for religious freedom.
What is distinct about the United Church of Christ?
We in the UCC cherish not only our rich and profound history, but also our dynamic and vibrant ministry and mission yet today. The UCC has about 1.1 million members nationwide in over 5,200 congregations. The UCC is a church of many “firsts.” We were the first mainline church to take a stand against slavery (1700), the first to ordain an African American person (1785), the first to ordain a woman (1853), the first in foreign missions (1810), and the first to ordain openly gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons (1972). We value education for all people. We founded Harvard and Yale, as well as many historically black colleges, six of which remain affiliated with the UCC to this day.
What is worship like at Gables UCC?
We are a traditional Church, which means that we have candlesticks, hymnals, choirs, organ music, and pews. But we are also a church that believes God is Still Speaking. On one Sunday you might hear a classical piece by Bach, and the next week a jazz interpretation of Amazing Grace. We find humor in the ordinary and grace in the extraordinary. Sometimes the mood is gentle and quiet, and at other times it is exuberant and spirit-filled.
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