UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

It's up to us to make clear that not all Christians are cut from the same cloth

By Muriel Duncan

United Church people aren't inclined to proclaim their faith on bumper stickers. You don't see too many of them wearing "Jesus is my homeboy" T-shirts.

That doesn't mean we aren't good Christians. We pray but not on prime-time TV. It's just not our way.

We're more likely to sit in church basements, in small groups, Bible in hand, faithfully seeking God's message for us today. We like Micah 6:8 -- "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

It is probably the justice part that gets us into trouble -- sometimes with powerful sources in society, sometimes with other Christians and sometimes within our own house. United Church people don't all think alike, so we've learned to give each other a little room for following our own beliefs and interpreting the Bible for ourselves.

These days, the United Church isn't flavour-of-the month in some inter-denominational circles. Our support for same-sex marriage rights puts us on the opposite side of the debate from some other large Christian groups. We will be on opposite sides of the courtroom when the Supreme Court of Canada considers same-sex marriage this fall.

And it is harder now to explain our position since most secular media tend to lump all Christians together, much as they have done for those of Jewish and Islamic faiths.

So we read newspaper reports that Christians oppose gay marriage rights but make no mention that there is a wide spectrum of Christian belief in this area. Reporters aren't helped when some groups appropriate the word Christian and talk as though there is only one true Christian viewpoint.

There is no point in lamenting this tendency if we're not prepared to speak up more for ourselves. Press releases, Web site information and stories in this magazine can help. But what is really needed is a concerted national media campaign to raise the profile of United Church-style Christianity.

We know there are supposed to be close to three million people who identify themselves as United Church at census time. We also know that most of them don't show up at Sunday morning worship. They may not see themselves fitting in because they are still thinking of a church of an earlier generation.

But the United Church has done a good job of applying its belief to the changing times. This is a church that believes God is still speaking to us. We change, stay current and relevant. So maybe we should let more people know who we are and what we believe.

The good news is the notion of strengthening United Church identity throughout the country has already been proposed by staff to General Council Executive. The goal is to help people, especially those between the ages of 30 and 45, have a higher awareness of our values. Some American denominations have used short television spots centring on family issues, ethical decisions. We should know more in the fall.

In the meantime, it isn't a bad idea to remind yourself and any reporters you know that Christians don't all think alike and don't need to, not all the time. Even Christ's disciples had their disagreements.


Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image