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Every denomination needs one of these...

NY Times ad will tell the truth about UCC

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just got an email from JT:
Dear James,

We want to place a full-page ad in The New York Times - perhaps as early as next Wednesday - to proclaim the truth about who we are as the United Church of Christ. Will you help make this a reality?

One week ago, I received a call from the Rev. Tom Stiers of Riverside Church in Manhattan, who said his congregation was sending a check for $6,000 for the purpose of supporting the purchase of a prominent, full-page ad. He encouraged us to invite others to join this effort.

The vision for the ad is to speak proactively to the breadth and diversity of our denomination, while also acknowledging the hurt that many in our country have experienced in recent weeks, including the members of Trinity UCC in Chicago.

This will be an occasion to explain the uniqueness of our polity, to acknowledge the freedom of our pulpits, and to affirm the rights of our members to agree or disagree in love. The statement will speak to our oneness in Christ, who strengthens us to be agents of justice, peace and reconciliation.

Of course, the cost will be significant, perhaps in excess of $120,000. That's a lot of money. But the potential positive impact of such a statement is worth much, much more.

People are looking at the UCC like they never have before, and that's why it's critical that we respond proactively and tell our church's story. Otherwise, we will let others continue to define us in narrow and distorted ways.

We have a few days to raise a significant amount of money. Can we count on your support?

The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
Here is my response back to JT:

Thanks for the email - it's good to hear from you. I'm glad you haven't caved in and resigned, otherwise my blogging days would be over.

This advertising thing bugs me. Do you really think a one time, $120,000 ad is the magic pill to change the public perception of the United Church of Christ?

I have a better idea at a fraction of the cost. It's going to take a little backbone, but I have confidence you can do it. Since the UCC is getting buzz these days in the media, use it to the denomination's advantage and go right into the lion's den and speak truth to power... go on Bill O'Reilly and tell our story. Yes, Bill O'Reilly!

The key here is to be honest and talk straight with him. If you start spinning this whole "context" thing with Jeremiah Wright's sermons, you are going to get smoked. No one is buying that you need "context" to understand Wright's claim that the government created the AIDS virus. You can successfully affirm Wright and Trinity UCC and all the great things they have done without affirming every single word he speaks.

Also, I wouldn't refer to Wright as a "prophet"... that isn't working either and shooting yourself in the foot again is only going to make a bigger mess. Just speak honestly. Talk about the diversity in our churches and talk about the research that shows the political makeup of our denomination.

People inside and outside of the church want to hear someone who is plain spoken and honest. Sieze the moment and aspire to make us the church that we want to be.

One last thing... and this is important: If Ben Guess gives you a set of talking points, thank him, fold it up and slide it into your pocket until after the interview.

Good luck John. You can do this buddy.

posted by UCCtruths, Friday, March 28, 2008


The first paragraph of your response to J.T. made my day. No, my entire weekend.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 4:53 PM  
fwiw, I sent:
"I'm guessing the ad's pretty well finished, but mightthere be a way to point out that Barack Obama's message of hope and change via unity are very "UCC," very much in accord with our motto and founding vision? Just thinking."

I think I'm more realistic in my expectations. :-)
commented by Blogger Don, 5:35 PM  
Mr. Thomas talks about UCC breadth and diversity. Putting moderate and conservative UCC members in the "ejection seat" does not promote diversity in the church. I can testify to having felt that I was "ejected" by people like Mr. Thomas.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 5:47 PM  
Two comments James.

You have not been keeping up with JT and his comments to the press.

As for - No one is buying that you need "context" to understand Wright's claim that the government created the AIDS virus - JT has already said he doesn't affirm that statement.

As for prophet, you are using the wrong term. Should be prophetic. Big difference. So, on both points you are not getting it right or fothing the pot to your own advantage.

The less froth the better.

As for the ad? You can put me on record as it being a lousy idea.

Really, I just wish everyone would just shut up. William
commented by Blogger (->} --]-----[, 7:08 PM  
Why the NY Times? Try reaching out to the Washington Times instead--it's conservative, but much less expensive and enjoys a readership that is actually respectful of religious thought. A well reasoned narrative in this publication would be difficult for the electronic media to ignore. Better to skip the "talking head" shows until we've comprehended the lacerations that Triniy and the UCC are absorbing at places like AmericanThinker.com
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 7:42 PM  
Why would he sign it "The" Rev. John Thomas?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:00 PM  
Why would he sigh it The ..... ? Because it is an automated signature fund-raising form letter. William
commented by Blogger (->} --]-----[, 10:53 PM  
$120-K toward a search committee for JT's replacement might be a better use of money. I'll start checking the cushions on the couch to see what I can scrape up!
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8:26 AM  

Scroll down a few posts, I've covered JT's comments.

Also, read Thomas' "What Kind of Prophet?"


This is more than being "prophetic"
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 2:55 AM  
I don't buy the great gulf fixed between the words prophet and prophetic.

Both are making the same claim - and it is kind of disingenuous to pretend speaking prophetically means spouting a leftist agenda while prophet has some different meaning.

Both claim the nature, "Thus sayeth the Lord".

Saying Rev. Wright was speaking in this manner - it wasn't him that said, for example, "God damn America" - it was God that said it - is not going to work. Mostly because it isn't true and isn't honest. It is just a way to try to say God supports his behavior.
commented by Blogger will, 3:20 AM  

Right on. I wish JT would take your advice; both he and Jeremiah need to check their egos at the door and deliver the message you suggested. The body of work is so strong it is unfortunate that a few, but very toxic, ideas that shoulod have been apologized for and disavowed, may become the legacy of two leaders.

As to Ben, Amen! After the marriage equality resolution efforts from Ben I would hope John would have more sense.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8:06 AM  
"People are looking at the UCC like they never have before..."

That's certainly true of me. Now that I've looked, it looks for all the world like an appendage of a political party.

Now that I've looked, I'm surprised that I've heard so much concern about the religious right, but so little about the religious left.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:39 PM  
Your response to JT was correct - the money can be spent better elsewhere... I'm a PR guy and in my opinion the less conversation about Rev Wright's Wrongs the better. The retirement home issue just makes things worse.

Maybe it's time for Rev Wright to respond for himself. My sense is that he will do a very good job.

JT should go on sabbatical and return after November.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:18 PM  
Weird. Thomas' letter to you was respectful. Your reply was sarcastic and childish.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:17 PM  

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