Governance Institute

Syllabus and Readings

All required reading assignments may be downloaded from this website or from other websites.  These materials can be downloaded using Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this software on your computer, you can download a free version at Other practical field assignments may be made requiring interviews, site visits, or attendance at meetings. Additional reading related to the topics covered is encouraged, but not required. These UCC Institutes are enrichment opportunities for all members of the UCC who want to learn more about the history, governance, theology and ministry of the UCC.

Amber Henry Neuroth, Senior Pastor
Hope United Church of Christ, Alexandria, Virginia

Daniel Sack

Francis Smith

Goals for the Governance Institute:
(from the Essentials document)

Participants will obtain knowledge of

* Constituent parts of the United Church of Christ i.e., local church, conferences and associations, national setting, General Synod (Constitution and Bylaws)
* Past and present structure of the United Church of Christ (“covenantal polity”)
* Patterns of accountability and autonomy in the various settings of the church

Pre-Institute Assignments:

Read the complete “Short Course on the History of the UCC”

1. What is UCC Polity?
Read Edward Long, Patterns of Polity: Varieties of Church Government, “Introduction” pps. 1-9 “Associational Congregationalism” pps. 119-128.
Read Toward an Understanding of Local Autonomy 1963

Review UCC Polity through the concept of “covenant:”
Jane Fisler Hoffman’s small book “On Covenant”
Read United Church of Christ Manual on the Church (draft, Jan. 2005)
Randi Walker, The Evolution of a UCC Style: History, Ecclesiology, and Culture of the United Church of Christ, Chap. 5 ”Covenant Community: Congregationalism and its Discontents.”

Consider the various settings of the UCC and how they affect our polity:
a. Constitution and By Laws of the United Church of Christ
b. Prism articles on Conferences and the Role of the Conference Minister
c. Peter Schmiechen, “The New Constitution and By Laws,” Prism 2000
d. “On Pronouncements” General Synod 1959
e. “Delegates” First Congregational UCC Washington, DC 1965

2. Visit at least three of these conferences’ websites:


What do you think is the role of UCC Conferences?  How should boundaries be drawn?  How should money be spent? How can justice and equity in representation be achieved? Read and

3. Governance

In a system built on covenant, power and privilege are very important.  We structure our leadership and our congregations in order to share power and create bonds of covenant.  How have you seen this work well in the UCC?  Where have you seen power misused or covenants broken? Read reflections on what has happened and is happening to UCC polity around power.


Summary of Pre-Institute Assignments:
1. Read basic information about polity and what polity is. Read two major essays about “covenant” polity and how it works. Read the current Constitution and By Laws of the UCC and several articles about how the various settings of the UCC relate to each other.
2. Read the websites of three UCC Conferences, including CAC. Read about changing Conference boundaries.
3. Read about power and covenant.  Think about ways power and privilege can be shared in UCC Governance structures.

(Updated 11/3/2020)