You never know what will catch you’re attention. This morning I was looking at the United Church of Christ web site (I check all the major mainline denominations every day, to see what new zaniness might be out there), and came upon a promotional video for “Our Church’s Wider Mission” (OCWM), the UCC mission offering. It’s eight minutes long, and trumpets the mission work of the UCC in what it calls “plain talk.” It’s really a remarkable presentation.
There’s a lot of talk about what the UCC does and where OCWM dollars go, about all the good works being done, the people being helped, the injustices being fought (no specifics given on that last, of course). The most amazing thing about it is that with one single exception (a reference to “God’s big church”), one would never know that God had anything to do with all the good things the UCC does. The denomination is “changing lives,” it’s “fighting injustice,” it’s helping disaster victims, it’s doing all kinds of things without God having anything to do with it, apparently. The word “church” is used repeatedly, and there’s a reference to “worship services” as one of the things done by the local church, but other than that, the video could just as easily be explaining the work of FEMA or U.S. AID or ACORN or Amnesty International or the Shriners or government social workers. Based on the evidence of this video, there’s no gospel in what OCWM does, except of the most generic humanitarianism. And yet, according to the person in charge at OCWM, this was all the rage at the recent General Synod:
“Conference ministers were stopping me every 15 minutes at Synod asking ‘When can we have that?,'” says the Rev. Jane Heckles, the UCC’s minister for OCWM. “They’re looking forward to using this video as a means to explain how giving builds partnerships across all settings of the church.”
They may be “building partnerships,” and I’m sure they’re helping folks in need. Since that’s all they’re doing, I suppose it makes sense that they don’t need God to get involved. He’d just mess up a good thing, anyway.