From the United Church of Christ newsroom:
Jesus sole head of church, Thomas affirms
Written by Will Matthews
Tuesday, 28 June 2005
Refuting claims to the contrary, the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and President of the UCC, unequivocally re-affirmed Monday that â€œJesus Christ is the sole head of the church, Son of God and Savior.â€
In a letter submitted to the Bergen County Record, Thomas responded to a story that appeared in the New Jersey newspaper June 15 that centers on a proposed General Synod resolution.
The proposed resolution, slated to be debated by close to 1,000 General Synod delegates who will gather in Atlanta this week, asks the UCC to affirm the Lordship of Jesus.
The story quotes the pastor of a New Jersey UCC church that is one of a handful of sponsors of the proposed resolution as saying that denominational leaders are â€œfuzzyâ€ about their belief in God.
But Thomas in his letter said such a statement couldnâ€™t be farther from the truth and that the UCC in fact is firmly grounded in its belief in both God and Jesus as â€œour crucified and risen Lord.â€
â€œOur faith is not in a book or tradition, but a Sovereign who is risen, is present with us and thus a Word that â€˜still speaks,â€™â€ Thomas wrote.
The resolution, sponsored by eight geographically-diverse congregations, asserts that the greatest issue currently facing the denomination is whether to acknowledge the Lordship and divinity of Jesus.
But Thomas in his letter said the question is a moot point.
â€œWhen the delegates to the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ gather for opening worship in Atlanta on July 1, they will join in an affirmation of baptism that begins with the public confession of the triune God, including belief in â€˜Jesus Christ, the only one begotten of God before all worlds.â€™â€
The full text of Thomasâ€™ letter, as well as the link to the June 15 Bergen County Record story follows:
Letter to the Editor:
It will take more than a resolution to the General Synod and an article in a local newspaper to create an identity crisis for the United Church of Christ. The fact is, the only reason we can use a comma along side our more traditional emblem of the cross, crown, and orb, is because of our confession that â€œJesus Christ is the sole head of the church, Son of God and Savior.â€ Our faith is not in a book or a tradition, but a Sovereign who is risen, is present to us, and thus a Word that â€œstill speaks.â€
Ask anyone baptized using the liturgical rite of the United Church of Christ Book of Worship: â€œDo you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?â€ Ask worshipers in our local churches who Sunday after Sunday read from the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith, printed in our hymnal, â€œIn Jesus Christ the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to Godâ€™s self.â€ Ask our ecumenical partners, including Lutherans, Presbyterians, Disciples, and members of the Reformed Church in America who as recently as1997 recognized the UCC as a â€œchurch where the gospel is rightly preached.â€ Ask Christians around the world who share fellowship with the United Church of Christ in the World Council of Churches on the basis of our common confession of â€œthe Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures.â€ Ask our pastors who affirm at their ordination that they â€œhear the word of God in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,â€ and who â€œaccept the word of God as the rule of Christian faith and practice.â€
When the delegates to the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ gather for opening worship in Atlanta on July 1, they will join in an affirmation of baptism that begins with the public confession of the triune God, including belief in â€œJesus Christ, the only one begotten of God before all worlds.â€ In the remembrance of these baptismal vows, the delegates will begin five days of listening for the living Word from the living Christ, a Stillspeaking God whose voice is never bound by the periods of time, culture, or convention.
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ