The United Church of Christ's has sent an appeal to President-elect Barack Obama to attend a UCC church in the Washington D.C. area once his family moves to the White House. The public invitation from UCC President John Thomas was part of a post-election letter to President-elect Obama. In light of the problems Obama faced with Trinity United Church of Christ, picking a church may not be as easy as it sounds. From The Hill:
There’s also the potential for Obama, sitting in the pews, to be linked with remarks made at the pulpit. Religion already created problems for Obama during the campaign, first with false rumors that he was secretly Muslim and then with the incendiary remarks made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, prompting the Obamas to leave Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in May.
But the sudden departure from the Chicago church didn’t stop the national church from inviting the Obamas to try a new location.
“[The letter] invited him to consider finding a spiritual home for him and his family at one of the UCC churches in the Washington area,” said Sandy Sorenson, the UCC’s associate for communications and media advocacy in Washington.
“So the invitation has been extended, and I think some of the local churches themselves have extended an invitation. But I have not heard anything yet about where he’s thinking about attending.”
In my less-than-humble opinion, the public invitation to Barack Obama is yet another publicity stunt for our denomination that is plainly begging to be relevant. A private invitation would have gone much further in demonstrating a respect for discretion that should be afforded to any public figure and their family looking for a house of worship. And whether intentional or not, the public invitation creates an awkward test for Obama: If he selects a UCC church, it provides validation for the denomination and if he does not, it is a snub... which is an incredibly unfair position to force on someone.
"If you believe love should be uncritical, you
may soon be thinking that I do not love this church. But my experience has been
that to be a member of the United Church of Christ is, almost by definition, to
be a critic of it. To be uncritical is to be the real oddball in this church.
Perhaps to be uncritical is to be un-Christian".
-From The United Church of Christ
Tomorrow, THEOLOGY AND IDENTITY: TRADITIONS, MOVEMENTS, AND POLITY IN THE
UCC (Pilgrim Press: 1990), edited by Dan Johnson