When Christians talk about a “call,” we mean that God is calling us—in our mind and heart—to take an action or make a choice with our lives. The Latin word for “call” — vocatio — is the root of a word often used to describe a call that leads us into a way of life: a “vocation.” A call to ministry includes the community’s recognition of and calling forth gifts for ministry. One of the distinguishing aspects of ministry in the United Church of Christ is the affirmation that ministerial leadership is always defined by an ongoing sacred covenant among the minister, the congregation and the denomination; thus ministry is more communal than individual, and the call to authorized ministry is always discerned with others.
A great theologian from the early days of the United Church of Christ, H. Richard Niebuhr, identified four aspects of a vocation:
1. The call to be a Christian is the beginning of any call to ministry, including yours.
2. The secret call between God and you, when you feel an inward invitation to become a minister.
3. The providential call when you recognize that God has given you specific gifts–intellectual, spiritual, psychological, and moral–that God wants you to use in ministry.
4. The ecclesiastical call (from the Greek word ekklesios, meaning church or assembly) when the community affirms your call, helps you prepare for ministry, and then ordains or commissions you for that ministry.
On Sunday, February 28th 2016, St. John’s United Church of Christ will receive a special offering that benefits our three regional seminaries Chicago, Eden and United (CUE). The CUE Regional Seminary Support Program brings together over 2,000 United Church of Christ churches in mid-America, Local Church Ministries, and Chicago, United, and Eden Theological Seminaries, our three United Church of Christ seminaries in this region.
Our mission is to:
1. Strengthen the relationship between our churches and our seminaries.
2. Further the mission and work of these seminaries.
3. Provide financial support for our seminaries.
We live in challenging times and we recognize the vital impact of our seminaries as they:
1. Prepare leaders for church and society.
2. Increase theological thought and scholarship.
3. Provide multiple resources to the local churches.
Current seminary statistics show that:
1. Tuition and scholarships currently pay for about 32% of the total costs of seminary education each year.
2. The CUE Seminary Support Program raised about $547,000 in 2014, covering another 7% of these costs.