UCC Community of Learning

The United Church of Christ Community of Learning (UCCCL) at Boston University School of Theology is a collaboration with the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ and other interested New England UCC conferences. Its mission is to form a community of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to nurturing and preparing United Church of Christ students for future leadership and service in and through the church. The UCCCL seeks to nurture the next generation of leaders for the UCC, equipping them in both UCC and ecumenical traditions of Christianity and providing them with curricular and co-curricular opportunities to ground their academic, spiritual, ecclesial, professional, and social-global growth. The UCCCL is guided by the aim of cultivating the “Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers” developed by the UCC (http://www.ucc.org/ministers_marks).

The first phase of the UCCCL will begin in the fall 2017 and includes the following opportunities:

(1) Coursework: STH is committed to hiring faculty and offering courses that support the cultivation of the above-mentioned “Marks.” Cultivation of those marks is not associated with any precise list of courses or simple correspondence between marks and courses. However, STH offers several courses that are of relevance to UCC students and that connect powerfully with the UCC commitment to congregational life and social engagement:

  • STH TC 724 The History, Polity and Theology of the United Church of Christ (offered every other year in rotation with Harvard Divinity School)
  • STH TH 826 The Reformations
  • STH TH 810 The Bible in the Reformation
  • STH TC 838 Church Renewal
  • STH TC 825 Prayer and Social Engagement
  • STH TC 899 Practicing Justice
  • STH TR 850: Sociology of Congregational Life

(2) Co-curricular opportunities such as

  • a UCC student group
  • an annual UCC alumni/ae day
  • “Mock Ecclesiastical Councils” for students or alums who are approaching their own Ecclesiastical Councils. The Mock Ecclesiastical Councils have become an annual event that supports persons preparing for them, and encourage participation by those UCC students who are discerning their ministries or at early stages in their ordination journeys.

(3) Contextual education opportunities in UCC ministry sites. In addition to placing UCC students in regular parish placements and already coordinated by the STH Office of Contextual Education, we will participate with several UCC churches in a “Collaborative Master of Divinity” that transforms the MDiv degree into a contextually rich opportunity for re-thinking theological education. This collaborative MDiv will include courses taught by pastors in their churches with a cohort model. Our hope is that this model may instigate similar models for other cohorts of learners at STH.

(4) A full range of weekly spiritual life offerings and retreats, coordinated by Rev. Dr. Charlene Zuill, the STH Coordinator of Spiritual Life.

  • an annual UCC student-led worship service in chapel
  • regular UCC leadership on the Worship Team
  • UCC preachers in chapel

(5) UCCCL mentors and consultants: in the form of faculty advisors and area UCC ministers who have agreed to serve. These individuals work together to support students in the UCC tradition, preparing themselves with the requisite knowledge for UCC requirements and convening colloquia each semester. Some of those who have agreed to serve as mentors are:

  • Rev. Dana Allen Walsh, South Church in Andover, MA
  • Rev. Natalie Austrian
  • Rev. Barbara Callaghan
  • Rev. John Edgerton
  • Rev. Dr. Chapin Garner, The Congregational Church of New Canaan, CT
  • Rev. Anastasia Kidd, Director of Enrollment, BU STH
  • Rev. Dr. Paul Shupe
  • Rev. Alex Will, South Church in Andover, MA

Other consultants to the UCCCL include Massachusetts Conference regional staff.

(6) Special opportunities to engage the UCC tradition. Some examples, include engaging work for EcoJustice (see for example, the Keep it in the Ground “Preach In”, http://april2016.uccpages.org/) or engaging the UCC Liturgical Tradition (http://april2016.uccpages.org/KeepItintheGroundLiturgy.rtf).

Other opportunities to be phased in later:

A UCC Certificate Program: In addition to the offerings that will be fully available in and after the 2018 academic year, we will also begin to develop a Certificate in UCC Studies either stand-alone or in concert with other degree programs. The Certificate program will be optional for STH students, as they will be able to fulfill UCC coursework requirements within the regular curriculum. Certificate requirements will be developed by STH faculty and deans in collaboration with UCC leaders, particularly in the Massachusetts Conference. To begin the conversation, we offer an example of what might be required of students seeking the certificate:

  • Complete at least 3 courses listed in UCC Studies
  • Complete a contextual education placement in a UCC setting
  • Reflect each semester with one’s faculty advisor and/or UCC Mentor regarding one’s movement through the degree program and certificate requirements, as well as one’s preparation for ministry in the UCC communion.