The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries concluded a successful General Synod today (June 25) by honoring two special anniversaries: the UCC itself, and the ordination of the Rev. William R. Johnson, the first openly gay man ordained by a mainline Protestant church in the modern era. Johnson was ordained into Christian ministry June 25, 1972, at Community UCC in San Carlos, Calif.
During the final plenary’s Speak Out session, CHHSM President and CEO Michael J. Readinger spoke from one of the floor microphones, thanking Synod attendees for the warm welcome CHHSM received as presenting sponsor. He also praised the denomination and its membership.
In a Synod that saw difficult delegate debate over leadership decisions, Readinger’s final words reminded those in attendance of the UCC’s role as a courageous and innovative voice in the religious landscape.
“I think back to 62 years ago today when this church came to be at the General Synod in Cleveland, Ohio in 1957. And I think about the courage of this denomination 47 years ago today when Bill Johnson was ordained as the first openly gay UCC minister,” Readinger reflected to much applause.
As his time at the microphone neared its conclusion, Readinger urged delegates to remember the UCC’s specialness.
“We are the United Church of Christ,” he said. “We may not always be united but we are always the United Church of Christ.”
“So let us BE the UNITED Church of Christ. Let’s agree to disagree. Let’s forgive each other and let’s keep working together to create a just world for all,” he ended. “And I can’t wait to see you in two more years!”