Theology Institute

Syllabus and Readings

All required reading assignments may be downloaded from this website or from other websites. Many are in pdf format; you can download a reader here. 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, polity, theology and ministry of the UCC. Everyone is welcome; when attending the institutes for successful completion, please make a commitment to attend the entire time.


Please contact the instructors if you have any questions. 

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

Daniel Sack

Francis Smith


Goals for the Theology Institute:

Participants will obtain knowledge of

  • Theological documents and texts (e.g. Statement of Faith, Basis of Union, Prism articles, various working papers of the national setting, ecumenical documents, pronouncements of General Synod, etc.)
  • Worship (including Book of Worship, New Century and other hymnals)
  • Ecclesiology (the nature of the church)
  • Creeds and confessions (“testimonies, not tests” of what is commonly held among us)

Assignments for the Institute

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

1. Examine general expressions of UCC theology These documents, some historical and some more recent, reflect the general shape of theology in the UCC.

Statements of Faith

  1. A brief statement about UCC beliefs
  2. The UCC Basis of Union
  3. The Preamble to the UCC Constitution

The Work of Theology in the UCC

  1. The introductions to sections 4 (“Doing Theology”) and 5 (“Making a Difference”) from Volume 7 of The Living Theological Heritage of the UCC
  2. Reflections on the UCC Statement of Faith from its author Roger Shinn

2. Learn about worship traditions and practices within Christian history and the UCC
The church’s theology is witnessed in its worship of God. Reflections on the theology of worship in the UCC:

  1. Historian Louis Gunnemann on baptism
  2. Historian Louis Gunnemann on Eucharist
  3. The introduction to the UCC Book of Worship 

 3.  Go deeper into the theologies of the four main pre-1957 traditions in the UCC.
As you have learned (or will learn) in the history institute, the United Church of Christ has roots in four separate traditions. The following materials are key theological texts for those traditions.






4. Examine various UCC theological statements since 1957. Those four traditions joined to form the United Church of Christ in 1957. Since then the denomination and individual theologians have issued a variety of theological pronouncements and papers. Here are several short documents reflecting the denomination’s theological work.

Choose one below and write a one-page summary paper.

  1. On Becoming an Open and Affirming Church (1985)
  2. Theological Foundations of a Just Peace Church (1986)
  3. Statement of Mission (1987)
  4. Toward the 21st Century (1993)
  5. Becoming a Multiracial Multicultural Church (1993)
  6. “Language Guidelines” and a statement by Davida Foy Crabtree on “Inclusive Language” (1985)
  7. Barbara Brown Zikmund, “The Trinity and Women’s Experience” (1987)
  8. Two early papers by UCC theologians on marriage equality (1998)
  9. Statement on theology and disability (2005)
  10. Pastoral Letter on Faith and Science (2008)
  11. Pastoral Letter on Faith and the Environment (2008)
  12. Sharon Ringe, “Feminist Theology” (1995)
  13. Lee Barrett, “Theological Worlds in the United Church of Christ” (2007)

5. Review materials that reflect how traditional conservative theologies continue to challenge and shape UCC theology.  The UCC is often called a “liberal” church, but there are significant communities within the denomination that maintain a more conservative theology. Here are some links to organizations representing those communities.

Choose one of these to read. Prepare a one-page synopsis about the community.

  1. The Biblical Witness Fellowship 
  2. Confessing Christ
  3. Faithful and Welcoming Churches

6. Review materials that show the theological and multiracial, multicultural diversity of UCC theology. Choose one of the readings from the theological and muticultural materials. Write a one-page paper on how UCC theology was shaped by diversity with a particular lens on the reading you chose

 7. Read about the UCC ecclesiology (theology of the church)

 8. Think theologically about the UCC’s practice of advocacy for justice

Go to the “Advocate for Justice” area of the UCC web site and choose one of the topics related to UCC social witness, peace and/or justice work that you are interested in.  Reflect on the theological belief or concept that underlies or informs the UCC witness in this area? Ask why the UCC advocates in that area. How are UCC motives different from those of other social activist groups? Come prepared to tell the other members of the class the topic you chose AND the theological rationale behind UCC involvement in that issue.


1. Read various general resources about UCC Theology
2. Read materials about UCC worship and music
3. Learn about the four pre-1957 theological traditions
4. Read about UCC ecclesiology. What is the UCC theology of the church?
5. Examine & write about UCC theological statements since 1957 [#4]
6. Examine & write about conservative theologies of the UCC [#5]
7. Examine & write about the multicultural and multiracial traditions in the UCC [#6]
8. Reflect upon & write about an issue where the UCC has an activist agenda and explain the theological rationale behind such activism [#8]

***For successful completion of the institute, the written assignments MUST be done in advance and brought to the institute***

(Updated 7/25/2019)