Williston-Immanuel United Church is an intentional merger of two, active congregations in Portland, Maine, one a United Church of Christ Church (UCC) and the other an American Baptist Church (ABC). This union illustrates a synergy in which the sum becomes greater than the addition of the separate parts. The new church is neither one nor the other, but both. Its merging has brought together the best of two historic, American denominations, resulting in an emerging faith community made up of some of the following ingredients:
THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST (UCC)
The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. As a church rooted in the Congregational and Reformed traditions, we believe that faith can be expressed in many different ways, that there is no formula that is a test of faith. Through the centuries, however, Christians have shared their faith with one another through creeds, confessions, catechisms and other statements of faith. So we, along with Christians of all ages, stand in the streams of the historic statements as well as other testimonies of faith shaped and stated by our forebearers.
The UCC has roots in the "covenantal" tradition—meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Among these, the simple words of the Salem Church Covenant of 1629 affirming our covenant “with the Lord and one with an other. . .to walke together in all his waies, according as he is pleased to reveale himself unto us in his bless word of truth.” and the soaring phrases of the United Church of Christ’s Statement of Faith reminding us that “God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world. . .” have particular meaning for us.
Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.
THE AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCH (ABC/USA)
American Baptists are a Christ-centered, biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people called to radical personal discipleship in Christ Jesus. Commitment to Jesus propels a congregation to nurture authentic relationships with one another, build healthy churches, transform communities, nations and the world, engage every member in hands-on ministry, and speak the prophetic word in love.
As a people of prayer, purpose and passion, American Baptists are in the forefront of creating a diverse community of faith where people of every race, nationality and culture gather as one in worship, witness and work.
The heart of the gospel is God’s redemptive love. American Baptists hope that in them, the world will see the energy of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the power of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, and the victory of faith over doubt.
Through the cross of Christ, American Baptists embrace the world as neighbor. A vision for mission energizes a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, new church development, social justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development and education. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, American Baptists work together in mutual trust, humility, love, and giving, so that the gospel might be preached and lived in all the world.
GOALS OF SYNERGY
Williston-Immanuel United Church attempts to be grounded by faith in God, sustained by the love of Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit. Its mission is to become compassionate, reconciling disciples of Jesus Christ who bear witness to God's love, to people in and out of the congregation. Acceptance without conditions, affirmation without discrimination - these are the goals of Williston-Immanuel. As an emerging faith community, Williston-Immanuel maintains a commitment to being open to all people, with welcoming arms and affirming attitudes.