With 1.3 million regular attendants, the United Church of Christ (UCC), a mainline Protestant denomination, approved a same sex marriage resolution on Monday. From 884 member General Synod, about 80% supported wedding policies ¡§that do not discriminate against couples based on gender.¡¨ The resolution also asked for support outside of church against resolutions that bans same sex marriage.
UCC was established in 1957. In New England, it has a very strong authority and tradition. In 1970, UCC became the first denomination to appoint a gay pastor. Ten years later, they declared to treat homosexuals with ¡§open¡¨ and ¡§affirming¡¨ hearts.
According to UCC, president Rev. John H. Thomas said that the church has ¡§acted courageously to declare freedom.¡¨ He said, "On this July Fourth the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has acted courageously to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of same gender couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate and bless those marriages,"
Yet, not everyone agreed upon this extreme measure. A small group of traditionalists pushed for a resolution for ¡§defining marriage as between a man and a woman,¡¨ but the resolution did not pass.
Like other mainline denominations, churches under UCC are independent. What this means is that the internal administrations of churches are not directed by the authority of the General Synod. Yet the synod itself does represent the current standpoint of the churches within its denomination. Rev, Brett Becker said that the decision on Monday might force him to leave UCC. He is one of the few evangelicals who remained in UCC. He told the media that he had hoped to change the denomination directly through the establishing network within UCC. Also, many members of the denomination were shocked at the resolution, and have expressed that if the resolution were to take place, they will request to leave the denomination.
Rev. Becker did not agree that the vote on Monday represented the majority of the denomination. "If we had put it to a vote of the people in the pews, it would have failed overwhelmingly," he said. "This is truly Independence Day for the UCC ¡X we have declared ourselves independent from the teachings of Jesus and the clear teachings of Scripture."