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

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

  1. A brief statement about UCC beliefs
  2. The UCC Basis of Union
  3. The Preamble to the UCC Constitution
  4. The UCC Statement of Faith (1959, 1977, 1981)

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 
  4. Twelve principles behind the 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 to present to the class.

  1. On Becoming an Open and Affirming Church (1985)
  2. Davida Foy Crabtree, “Language Guidelines” on inclusive language (1985)
  3. Theological Foundations of a Just Peace Church (1986)
  4. Statement of Mission (1987)
  5. Toward the 21st Century: A Statement of Commitment (1993)
  6. Becoming a Multiracial Multicultural Church (1993)
  7. Sharon Ringe, “Feminist Theology” (1995)
  8. Called to Wholeness Resolution (accessible to all) (2005)
  9. Lee Barrett, “Theological Worlds in the United Church of Christ” (2007)
  10. Pastoral Letter on Faith and Science (2008)
  11. Pastoral Letter on Faith and the Environment (2008)

5. Review materials that show the diversity of UCC theology. The readings below reflect the diversity of theological thought within what is widely seen as a white and liberal church. Choose one and write a one-page paper on how UCC theology was shaped by diversity with a particular lens on the reading you chose.


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
5. Examine & write about UCC theological statements since 1957 [#4]
6. Examine & write about the diverse traditions in the UCC [#5]

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

(Updated 12/20/2020)