That We May All (Finally!) Be One | Covenant, Hospitality, and the Expanding Identity of the United Church of Christ (Gast)

That We May All (Finally!) Be One | Covenant, Hospitality, and the Expanding Identity of the United Church of Christ (Gast)

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With our diverse cultures and histories, with our organizational autonomy and individual freedom of belief, our UCC identity is complex, says the Rev. Mary Susan Gast. Our unity is not always apparent. Who are we as the United Church of Christ? Sometimes the pronoun “we” seems too puny to handle us. The varied voices of the UCC can put a strain on the power of the first person plural pronoun to adequately represent (all of ) “us.” Who is “we” in the UCC?

Questions for reflection, comment, and conversation are included throughout the book.


“When people ask me to define the United Church of Christ I am overwhelmed. How can we capture, clearly and accurately, this complex faithful community that honors difference and upholds unity. Gast insists that threads of difference are weaving new sustainable patterns that incorporate past, present and future. She is not resistant to change. She has said for years that in the UCC ‘Those who were them yesterday are us today, and we are forever changed.’ She has written a practical book, addressing patterns of structure and accountability and inviting members and critics to remain open to God’s future.”Barbara Brown Zikmund, UCC historian, seminary leader and educator

“Gast addresses tensions that lie at the heart of every united or uniting church. Using a characteristic UCC style of language, Gast describes for us the ways we have expressed these tensions in our denominational polity and forms of ministry, and have found ways forward toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for us: 'That they may all be one.'”Randi Jones Walker, author of The Evolution of a UCC Style: Essays in the History, Ecclesiology and Culture of the United Church of Christ

“Does not sugar coat or downplay the tensions and stresses to our unity. The topics for conversation invite dialogue, which is how we learn, explore and define ourselves in the UCC. Should be required reading for clergy and lay persons in leadership in the church.”Roy Mosley, UCC layperson

“The book is helpful for many reasons, particularly its concise model of how the UCC works. The author’s storytelling style allows room for deeper reflection and questions.”Dakota Brown, UCC Member in Discernment

“Gast has undertaken the writing of living history and interpretation of UCC polity. By including contemporary citations and examples, she pulls polity forward as something worth examining  now and into the future.”Ally Vertigan, UCC Member in Discernment

“The book speaks directly and penetratingly into not only the “who we are” but the “how we are who we are” of UCC members and ministry. I am pushed to self-reflection and examination of my own religious life.”Jerry Bolick, Buddhist, teacher, and poet


Mary Susan Gast is Conference Minister Emerita of the Northern California Nevada Conference United Church of Christ, and has served the UCC in many capacities since her ordination in 1975. Her liturgical materials, poetry, and commentaries on church life and contemporary culture have been widely published.  She lives in Benicia, California, and is active in interfaith advocacy for human rights.

Publisher: The Pilgrim Press
Pub date: October 1, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8298-2031-7
280 pages, 6" x 9"