Pastor’s Corner: UCC Associations

September 20, 2023

I hope you can indulge me in a geeky moment of United Church of Christ Polity.

(Even “Polity” is a geeky word. In most organizations, they’d use the word “governance” or “organization.” But I digress.)

We’re familiar with the local church, of course. We’ve heard of the denomination, and many are aware that there is a Hawai’i Conference that exists across the islands. You may not realize that our church is a part of a smaller body called the Hawai’i Island Association, and that this body has powers none of the other organizations have.

Associations consist of a local churches in a certain area, though a few are gathered by common background rather than geography. Uniquely in the UCC, Associations have the ability to authorize ministers. A local church calls a person to be their pastor, but an Association has to do the work to discern that that person has been called to ordained ministry. My first church call in 1988 was to two congregations in Maine – but my ordination was approved and conducted by the Tolland Association in Connecticut.

Not only do Associations determine what people are authorized as Ordained, Licensed, Lay, or Commissioned Ministers, they also determine what churches are members of the United Church of Christ. After some time of consideration and discernment, the Hawai’i Island Association received the United Church of Christ of Pohnpei in Hilo church into the Association and into the broader UCC(USA). The church also maintains its place in the UCCP.

It’s a remarkable thing. These vital and considerable powers have been vested in a body which almost never has staff, possesses very little money, and which few have even heard of. Yet it works.

Thanks be to God!

In peace,

Pastor Eric

Photo by Jonathan Roach

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on September 20, 2023

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