Bring your church together
Discover Faith Practices, an exciting online resource that’s transforming congregations into communities that worship together, learn together, and serve together.
Faith Practices is for everyone in your congregation:
• Multiage & Intergenerational
• Adult (ages 35+)
• Young Adult (18-35)
• Older Youth (15-19)
• Youth (11-15)
• Older Children (7-11)
• Younger Children (3-7)
Faith Practices encompasses every setting in your congregation:
• Christian Education
• Workshop Rotation
• Worship, Music, Arts, & Story
• UCC Identity & History
• Living Practices in Daily Life
Here's what Faith Practices gives your congregation
• 12 different faith practices to explore over the coming years - 6 already available!
• 600+ activities per faith practice from which to choose – that’s 50+ activities per age group or setting!
• Online downloads that are always available when you need them.
• Accessible content and attractive presentation that volunteers and professional educators will love.
• Non-linear activities that weave education into the full fabric of congregational life, including worship.
The following Faith Practices are available
1) Giving and Receiving Hospitality
Create a community that welcomes all, especially those who are different from the mainstream of the current community.
2) Keeping Sabbath
Be intentional about rest, worship, and working for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.
3) Living Stewardship
Live in harmony with others and the world, through relationships, liberation, grace, justice, peace, mutuality and material possessions.
4) Playing and Living Joyfully
Include God in your recreation and re-creation, doing justice and moving outside yourself into sharing one with another.
5) Giving Testimony and Witness
Recognize God's action in your life and find ways to express it meaningfully with others.
6) Encountering Scripture
Listen to what the sacred texts tell us about our common family story and the Christian community.
New Practice partially Available
7) Praying and Making Ritual
Prayer is an essential practice of faith and tradition—many of us long for a deeper life of prayer, whether it’s a conversation with God or an activity that permeates every facet of our life. This practice will guide you to living prayerfully so you may begin to develop a worldview that understands our daily lives as an extension of our communal worship. You will reclaim familiar rituals; explore new ones; begin to recognize the holy in the ordinary; mark time and space as sacred; and give meaning to the whole of our experience.
Faith Practices is the best investment for your congregation:
Your congregation will pay only $300 to get Faith Practices – an amazing price for such a versatile, all-encompassing resource! This will be your only payment. No passwords, renewals, or expiration dates! And since Faith Practices materials are not dated, they are yours to keep and use...over and over...forever and ever...in many exciting ways:
+ Have your congregation or leadership choose a practice as a theme for the year, then infuse every event and activity with the related Faith Practices materials. Include the items in your church newsletters, too.
+ Gather groups in your congregation according to their vocations: business people, public educators, medical folks, scientists, farmers, tech folks, and others; use the Living Practices in Daily Life resource as a conversation starter to help them link their faith to life.
+ Meet at a coffee shop or café with anyone who is interested in talking about using a practice in daily life.
+ Use prayers and other worship ideas to begin and end board and committee meetings, potlucks and other church meals, choir practices, mission activities, youth group gatherings, church work days and more.
+ Send activity suggestions to parents/guardians/caregivers for use at home.
+ Encourage your stewardship committee to adopt the Living Stewardship theme for a year and use the materials throughout the congregation. Do the same with other practices and committees.
+ Find someone in the congregation with a passion for a particular practice and talk with them about working with those resources to get the congregation started on using them.
+ Use the Multiage/Intergenerational resource for a particular practice at monthly/quarterly/other regular gatherings.
+ Pick a practice and use that resource during an all-church retreat or camp.
+ Use Scriptures from the resources to plan congregational worship and Bible study sessions.
+ The list goes on and on – there are so many fantastic ways to make Faith Practices work for your congregation! Think outside the box – there’s no wrong way!
+ If you've found a cool way to use Faith Practices, please share with: email@example.com
Doing justice, seeking peace and building community are central to the identity of the United Church of Christ. We invite you to explore the breadth and depth of the UCC's justice work. Join us in building a stronger faith-based movement for peace, justice, equality and inclusivity. Our work is rooted in the teachings of scripture and the policies of our General Synod. Questions about anything you see here? Send us a message.
To explore JWM issue areas, click on the categories below.
What is Summer Communities of Service?
Summer Communities of Service (SCOS) is a leadership program for young adults aged 19 and above. Summer Communities focuses on intersecting faith communities, service and justice advocacy. This national network is part of the joint work of the United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists. Participants live and serve from late May to early August in host congregations around the United States. Housing, Food, Health Insurance and a $1,000 summer stipend is provided. While participating in SCOS you will have the opportunity to attend national orientation and debriefing events throughout the United States.
The "Intentional Christian Community Element" makes this program distinct and effective. Interns share a common food allowance, transportation funds and spiritual growth insights. Participants live in community with each other and with their hosts in their temporary city.
In the UCC and Alliance of Baptist diversity is a big piece of our identity. Both churches uphold socially progressive statements and advocate politically from a faith perspective. Diverse, community-service-integrated ministries show interns, congregations, the wider church and world where this faith-inspired work is happening in our midst. The SCOS experience helps interns develop long-term commitment to engage in this kind of ministry.
Hands-On Justice Advocacy/Service Opportunities:
Grow professionally and change the world. Your summer will consist of lead youth groups, assist in freedom school activities, plan art based initiatives, camp counsel, assist with community gardening and serve as a disaster volunteer.
Grow personally and grow spiritually. Go deeper and explore the meaning of life in a supportive environment.
2019 Summer Communities of Service Locations
Questions or Inquiries? Contact Mary Schaller Blaufuss, UCC Volunteer Ministries
firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-736-3214
What is Young Adult Service Communities?
Young Adult Service Communities are unique opportunities for you to live in intentional community with others who share your commitment to service and social justice. Young Adult Service Communities are leadership programs for young adults aged 21-35. Participants live and serve fall through summer * start dates vary according to location . Housing, food, living stipend, health insurance are provided. Together, you will find the space to reflect on questions of meaning and to network for change. Young adult leaders are transforming communities through a faith-inspired pursuit of justice, collaborative action and intentional living.
Placement Interviews begin February 15th, 2019.
Service and Justice Internships:
The YASC network gives you the opportunity to grow professionally and change the world through intern placements with local nonprofit agencies, which are dedicated to justice advocacy and collaborative action.
Your placement will allow you the opportunity to grown spiritually and practice skills as you serve in a leadership position at a United Church congregation. Through this work you can see the convergence of church and world.
YASC provides you a space to grow personally by living in community with other young leaders, exploring together your direction, calling and future action in the world.
Named to the 2018 national class of Service Programs that Change the World
Certified by the Service Year Alliance
Questions or Inquiries? Contact Mary Schaller Blaufuss, UCC Volunteer Ministries
email@example.com or 216-736-3214
Compassion in Action
Your service as a UCC Disaster Recovery Volunteer helps people rebuild their physical homes and is an act of presence that demonstrates the commitment to walk beside people as they seek to rebuild their lives. Together, we can be the body of Christ in the world. UCC Disaster Ministries has arranged the following opportunities for mission groups to help homeowners in the intermediate and long-term recovery process.
Serve as a group or as an individual for week-long periods.
Disaster Sites Accepting Volunteers
Puerto Rico (Hurricanes Irma and Maria)
Work may include repairing cement roofs, light carpentry, metal and wood roofing repair, and painting interior ceilings and walls. Most of the work will be done in the Humacao city area, the hardest hit area in Puerto Rico. Click here for more information and to volunteer.
Port Arthur, Texas (Hurricane Harvey)
Volunteers are helping to repair homes for low income renters who were displaced by the floods. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting. Click here for more information and to volunteer.
Volusia County, Florida (Hurricanes Irma & Matthew)
Repair/Rebuild homes. Roofing, gutting interiors, replacing insulation, siding, drywall repair and painting, flooring and other interior work as needed. Click here for more information and to volunteer.
BE INSPIRED – Create community. Practice discipleship. See God and other people and creation in new ways. Resources to help you prepare your group are available at UCC Mission Trip Opportunities.
LEARN – You are an important part of a larger system of response and recovery. Explore the networks in place for disaster response and recovery. Know your UCC Conference Disaster Coordinator. Follow UCC Disaster Ministries on Facebook at One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC).
SHARE – Your skills help rebuild and repair homes and lives. Construction skills: Framing, Plumbing, Roofing, Painting, Electrical, Landscaping
ADVOCATE – Use the authenticity gained by this experience to be a public voice for a just world for all in your local, state and national media and government bodies. Join Justice and Peace Action Network!
VIDEO RESOURCE - Houston pastors share the experience of going through Hurricane Harvey in this video, "Love Them Back to Life."
Disaster Ministries also has t-shirts available for sale in the UCC online store here.
The UCC Washington office works to project the vision of change that is offered by UCC members in the halls of congress. Every two years our members come from across the country to gather for General Synod - to pray, reflect and discern a faithful response to God’s vision through resolutions and pronouncements on the issues facing our world.
It is through the actions of General Synod that we prioritize our advocacy.
Our staff monitor and seek changes in legislation at local, state and federal levels through a variety of coalitions and working groups. Through these coalitions we lobby and send letters to our elected officials advocating for changes if public policy.
While we work hard to represent and promote the views expressed at General Synod on Capitol Hill, it is you - as constituents - who make the best advocates.
How can the DC office help you engage in advocacy?
constituency Education and Mobilization - E-Advocacy through the Justice and Peace Action Network, Petitions, Rallys and more
Direct Capitol Hill Advocacy - Advocacy training, meetings with government officials and their staff
What is the Justice and Peace Action Network?
The UCC Justice and Peace Action Network is common action arm of the four covenanted ministries of the United Church of Christ that is charged with mobilizing UCC members for concentrated action as issues emerge.
Our vision is a just, compassionate and peaceful world that honors all of God's creation. In keeping with this vision the JPANet seeks to equip its members through issue education and weekly opportunity for public policy advocacy. By joining the JPANet you have access to resources that are beneficial to advocates of any experience level. they include:
An electronic Public Policy Briefing Book at the beginning of each two year Congressional session as an overview of policy priorities and work in all areas.
Weekly electronic actions emailed to your inbox with direct "take action" links to key decision makers.
A monthly electronic newsletter with notices about upcoming events, new resources and opportunities for action.
Using these tools you can begin basic advocacy or expend your current work. Our resources make it easy to engage or to engage your congregation in advocacy. Sign up here!
In responding faithfully to God’s call for abundant life for all people, a common life in which no one is left behind, we are drawn inevitably to engage in public policy advocacy and decision-making.
This is the goal of the UCC JWM Washington office; to make a better world possible by addressing the systemic problems that we face as a country and as part of the world. Hunger, poverty, peace and security, racism, care for the earth. These are among the types of justice issues that we work to improve through federal policies.
“If a single decision in the halls of the U.S. Congress can either enhance or undo literally millions of acts of Christian caring, I should try to influence such decisions?"
The UCC Washington Office was called into being by a resolution at General Synod 10 in 1975. This predecessor body to Justice and Witness Ministries, then called the Office for Church in Society, was created to assume a leadership function for social action concerns in the UCC and to provide resources to the national, conference and local churches.
Foremost among the tasks assigned to the office was identifying, analyzing and forecasting emerging social issues which call for the attention of the denomination.
Today the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries staff in Washington, DC, in partnership with UCC staff, Conferences, Associations, congregations and individual UCC members, continues this mission by monitoring and seeking changes in legislation at local, state and federal levels through a variety of coalitions and working groups.
The policies that guide our work are crafted by UCC members who gather for General Synod to pray, reflect and discern a faithful response to God’s call through resolutions and pronouncements on the issues facing our world.
Want to learn more?
Introducing sexuality education into your congregation can be a wonderful opportunity to put faith into action. The impetus may come from the youth of your congregation, a parent's group, the pastor, a health professional, or someone else.
There are people throughout the United Church of Christ who have been trained as Our Whole Lives facilitators and have successfully implemented Our Whole Lives/ Sexuality and Our Faith —and many of them are willing to share their journeys with you.
The main ingredient in the success of implementing Our Whole Lives is a commitment to the sexual health and wholeness of the community. Other practical considerations many have found helpful are:
- building allies
- forming an oversight committee
- educating and inspiring the congregation, and
- implementing the program and including it into the congregation's ministry on an ongoing basis.
Choose the age group you want to start with (K-1, Grades 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 grades, Young Adult or Adult) and then check out the Our Whole Lives Training page to see where a training is being held near you. Trainings are held throughout the US and Canada, and often in partnership with Unitarian Universalist Association churches; however, wherever you go, you will receive training from Approved Trainers in the levels you are planning to implement. The training page updates frequently, so check back often. You may also choose to work with your local church, association, conference or national setting to host a training. There is more information about hosting in a downloadable guide on the Our Whole Lives Training page.
How long are the programs?
Good sexuality education takes time, especially in a culture which is raising its consciousness regarding sexual harassment, assault, and toxic gender roles and expectations. Don’t let the length of the programs deter you. Contact us to find out more.
8 sessions, 1 hour each
Parent meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
10 sessions; 75-minutes each
Program Information meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
25 sessions, 1.5 hour each
Parent Orientation: 1-2 sessions, 2-4 hours total
14 sessions, 2 hours each
Parent Orientation: 1-3 sessions, 3-4 hours total
12 sessions, 2 hours each
14 sessions, 2 hours each
*These levels of curricula are modular. You may choose to do only one workshop, or work through the entire manual, depending on the needs of your group.
What is Sexuality and Our Faith?
Sexuality and Our Faith is the faith companion to Our Whole Lives. Each level of Our Whole Lives has a corresponding Sexuality and Our Faith manual that provides faith-related information and questions for each workshop. Our Whole Lives itself is secular and can be used in community settings and schools in addition to churches. One half of each Sexuality and Our Faith manual contains material written by the Unitarian Universalist Association that brings in how their principles relate to the Our Whole Lives workshops, and one half by United Church of Christ authors who bring in prayer, scripture, litany and song to support what is being taught in Our Whole Lives.
What are the visual components? Who can use them?
The Sexuality and Our Faith DVD for Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12 are designed for use only in UUA and UCC congregations who have approved trained Our Whole Lives/Sexuality and Our Faith facilitators for those grade levels, and can only be used in the context of the UUA or UCC church offering the appropriate level of Our Whole Lives. They are an optional resource that require parent permission to be viewed by youth. Comprehensive and effective sexuality education programs can be conducted without these visuals. Both the DVDs seek to underscore the values of the curriculum and were designed to answer participants questions about what sexual anatomy and activity look like in an environment of responsibility, respect, safety, and trust.
The DVDs can only be purchased by UU or UCC congregations and only after the congregation's Our Whole Lives facilitators have successfully completed training in the use of the resource. Individuals cannot purchase them. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about purchasing them.
Are the program lengths and sessions adaptable?
Our Whole Lives programs are flexible and can be adapted to your program needs. The older grades courses can be used in a retreat setting. In order to maintain the integrity of the program, it is highly recommended that all sessions of the resources in any program from K-1 through 10-12 be taught.
Can we collaborate with another church or community organization?
If there is another United Church of Christ congregation in your area, or a church that believes that sexuality education is an important part of their commitment to youth, it is appropriate to collaborate. The more diversity in a group, the richer the program. Because Our Whole Lives was written to be used in a secular setting, it does not contain religious references. The Sexuality and Our Faith manuals provide that optional addition. Be sure to have at least two trained facilitators before offering any Our Whole Lives program with any group.
How much does it cost?
What you need:
- A copy of Our Whole Lives for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- A copy of Sexuality and Our Faith for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- Training for your team
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying text called It’s Perfectly Normal, which some churches choose to provide for participants to borrow or keep.
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 or Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying Parent Guide which should be purchased for each family.
The United Church of Christ offers a significant 25% discount to UCC members who attend Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith trainings for materials for the training they are attending. In order to take advantage of this special offer, participants need to call the United Church of Christ warehouse and order their own resources. This needs to be done at least 10 days before a training to insure delivery. The number to call is: 1-800-537-3394. When calling, tell the customer service person that you are a UCC member attending an Our Whole Lives training and would like to receive a 25% discount. Orders can be charged to your church's United Church of Christ Resource account. Click here to see what the pre-discount cost is for the resources you will need.
Congregations must also budget for Our Whole Lives facilitator training. The total cost for a congregation will be determined by how far they must travel and how many days it will take. Once the facilitators are trained, the actual cost of implementation in a congregation is small and includes costs such as printing, supplies and snacks.
What are the criteria for selecting good facilitators for Our Whole Lives?
The success of the Our Whole Lives program depends on the qualified and caring persons who are selected and trained to be Our Whole Lives facilitators. Keep the following criteria in mind when choosing your facilitators:
- Their commitment to value-based, comprehensive sexuality education. A facilitator needs to have values (responsibility, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity) in harmony with the Our Whole Lives program and goals, and to feel comfortable with their own sexuality.
- Their experience, skill and comfort with the specific age group they will work with and its developmental needs.
- Their anti-bias awareness. A facilitator needs to understand, appreciate, and celebrate diversity of race/ethnicity, culture, age, ability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. A facilitator needs to have the skills to create a safe and engaging/learning environment.
- Their ability to be an advocate for sexual health and safety. The facilitator must support your Safe Church Policy and must follow your state's process for reporting any alleged abuse.
- Their ability to build relationships with participants, and with their parents and caregivers. Facilitators need to build community in the classroom and develop relationships of respect and responsibility.
- Their faith. A facilitator needs to be a person who is respected by the congregation and comfortable discussing the integration of sexuality and spirituality with members of the faith community. They should be aware of their own spiritual and religious grounding.
At the facilitator's training, the facilitators are being trained and evaluated. Occasionally our Approved Trainers identify individuals during the trainings that might not be appropriate for teaching Our Whole Lives. Churches should know that their facilitators may not be approved if there are concerns that arise during the training. If this is the case, the facilitators will be notified directly by the trainers and the congregational contact person(s) will be notified.
Should we screen potential leaders?
The United Church of Christ Insurance Board and Church Leaders strongly advise that churches screen all people working with youth and children. We recommend conducting background checks on facilitators of Our Whole Lives.
Our Whole Lives and most Safe Church policies insist on having at least two adults with the children and youth in the program at all times. In addition, if concerns arise during an Our Whole Lives training about a facilitator's appropriateness for facilitating Our Whole Lives, the trainers leading the workshop will speak to the potential facilitator and to the professional leadership of your congregation about their concerns.
What are people saying about Our Whole Lives?
In addition to articles being written in major newspapers throughout the country, pastors, facilitators, students and parents have expressed gratitude for Our Whole Lives. Here are just a few quotes:
"Sexuality is too important a subject for youth to be without a trustworthy source of accurate, reliable information. To be involved with these young people in one of the most important stages of their lives is an honor which is not taken lightly." (Our Whole Lives facilitator and parent)
"The information presented in the Our Whole Lives programs is straight, honest talk about respect for one's self, friends and community. Our Whole Lives provides answers to basic questions and offers many opportunities to digest and reflect on what it means to be a healthy teen. How wonderful that, as a caring church community, we can offer so much to our children in a safe learning environment." (Our Whole Lives parent, nurse practitioner)
"Don't ever stop offering Our Whole Lives at church. I took it when I was in high school and I think it saved my life. Every kid should see themselves the way Our Whole Lives sees them." (College student)
"One parent gave me a hug and thanked me for introducing Our Whole Lives into the church. Another was near tears as she told me how excited she was that we would be offering the Our Whole Lives program, how impressed she was by it, how important it was to be doing this, and so pleased that her children would be in the program. Another just said, 'Look, you can tell how moved I am, I am trembling.'" (Pastor)
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. The training I received this weekend was the best training I've ever received. I arrived very nervous—what am I doing here? Now I'm leaving knowing that the youth from my church will be receiving excellent information—and I can do this!" (Our Whole Lives Facilitator)