Welcoming Congregations of Kansas City - Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ

Tucked between 65th Street and its Terrace in the Armour Hills neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, is a sleek chalk-white edifice that houses the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ. Its founding worshippers began meeting in Brookside in 1922 and in 1925 members of Country Club Congregational dedicated the new building that still stands today.
Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination formed in 1957 by the union of two denominations, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. These two organizations had themselves come together through mergers, so the modern church has a four-path history. Church leaders emphasize the “united” portion of the name, i.e., they stress a unified church body. However, church governance is rooted at the congregation level, allowing for broad application of ecclesiastical doctrine among individual churches.
Historically, UCC has had a true social conscience and a long legacy of firsts. Congregationalists were among the first Americans to take a stand against slavery; in 1785, Lemuel Haynes was the first African American ordained by a Protestant denomination. In 1853, Antoinette Brown was the first woman since New Testament times to be ordained as a Christian minister. And 33 years after the UCC’s Golden Gate Association ordained William R. Johnson as the first openly gay minister in a mainline Protestant denomination, the 25th UCC General Synod (2005) affirmed its support for “equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.”

Many have seen the UCC’s “God Is Still Speaking” campaign, with its intentionally dangling comma. These commercials that pronounced, “No matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” were inexplicably censored by several major networks. The advertisements featured, among other things, the contrasts between churches that exclude LGBT persons from worship and those that are welcoming, such as UCC. The spots took a light-hearted approach to these differences that apparently didn’t sit well with executives at ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and the WB.

Like the parent denomination, Country Club Congregational (CCC) welcomes all. It has been an “open and affirming” congregation with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity since January 1997. The church combines the traditional with a modern flair. It employs a youth minister and draws members from a wide geographic radius.

Community involvement is paramount at CCC, which is determined to reclaim the prevailing message of scripture rather than cherry-pick disparaging passages. Country Club has a longstanding relationship with the Good Samaritan Project, and it lends support to, among other programs, MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) and Literacy Kansas City. The congregation sponsors Kristkindl Markt, a German Christmas festival, hosts children’s events, and makes the church building available to community groups like the Kansas City Coalition for Welcoming Ministries.

Country Club Congregational will be hosting the OutFront Kansas City Conference February 9-11, 2007. This conference will be co-sponsored by the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, and is expected to draw 150 to 200 attendees. Its purpose is to provide information to congregations of all faiths and denominations that are interested in becoming "welcoming" or "open and affirming." OutFront will feature the Heartland Men's Chorus and the Kansas City Women's Chorus, workshops, and a keynote presentation by marriage equity advocate Rev. Jimmy Creech.

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