History Institute

Syllabus and Readings

All required reading assignments are listed below. Participants are also asked to prepare a few short reports based on reading and interviews.

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

Daniel Sack, Member
Cleveland Park Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, DC

Francis Smith, Minister
Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, DC

Goals for the History Institute

Participants will obtain knowledge of

  • Origins, development, significant documents, major events, important persons in the four primary constituent traditions (Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, Reformed)
  • Selected other traditions and/or groups within the United Church of Christ (especially, but not necessarily limited to, African American, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Asian American, Hispanic)
  • Founding of the United Church of Christ
  • Developments in the United Church of Christ from 1957 to the present

Pre-Institute Assignments

1.  Get an overview of UCC history by reading the short course on UCC history. You can also get graphic versions at:

2.  Read more deeply in the histories of the four main denominations/groups that came together to form the UCC plus another stream which is now receiving much belated attention.

3.  All history is local. The Constitution of the UCC says that the basic unit of the United Church of Christ is the local church. Research the history of one local UCC congregation and come to the institute prepared to share information in a three minute report. Prepare a one page description/outline.

You can do this research online and by telephone. Look at the church’s web site for the congregation’s history. Interview a long standing member or the pastor. Here are some possible questions: When was it founded? Why? What traditions are part of its past? What was it before 1957, if it existed before 1957? Where is it located? Why? Was it always in the same place? How many members did it have ten years ago, twenty years ago, etc.? Have its racial or ethnic or socio-economic characteristics changed?

Choose a congregation with some history in your association, ideally one that you do not know. Here are some possibilities if you are in the Potomac Association:

In the District of Columbia:

In Maryland:

In Virginia:

4. African Americans have a long history within the UCC and its ancestor denominations, but their stories have not yet been included in the standard narrative of UCC history. Choose one of these primary documents and come prepared to talk about it.

6.  In order to understand the events that led up to the formation of the United Church of Christ in 1957, read:

What were the challenges involved in the formation of the UCC?  Why did the process take so long?

7.  Many accounts conclude the UCC’s history with the 1957 merger, but we have done a lot in the succeeding 64 years. The best index for that work are resolutions by the General Synod. What do you know about that story? What would you tell someone in your congregation who is interested in the denomination’s recent history? Take look at the list of General Synod resolutions, identify the three that seem most important to you, and come prepared to explain why. In many cases the resolution’s full text is available.


  1. Read some brief materials to understand how the UCC fits into the history of Christianity.
  2. Read materials about the histories of the groups that came together to form the UCC.
  3. Prepare a brief history of one local UCC congregation.
  4. Prepare a brief presentation about a text from the African American history of the UCC.
  5. Read about the history leading up to the merger or union in 1957.
  6. Look at the list of General Synod resolutions since 1957 and choose the three that seem most important to you. Come to the Institute prepared to share your list.

(Updated 2/9/2023)