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The UCC – A Witness of Unwavering Apostasy and Decline


By Carman Bradley

The United Church Observer, a monthly denominational magazine, conducted a poll in 1981, which showed only 10 per cent of the United Church membership was evangelical.[i]  By 2000, Moderator, Marion Pardy, said this conservative remnant had fallen to 5 per cent (say 30,000 souls).[ii]  UCC Rev. Dr. Donald Faris writes for the Community of Concern within the UCC:

With the approval of gay, lesbian, and bisexual marriage - the foolhardy blessing of behavior that God condemns - the paganization of the United Church is almost complete.[iii]

UCC Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill writes: “Our own United Church is in a state of free fall…76% of our theological professors think it is not important to affirm Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.”[iv]  He quotes comments made by UCC theological professors:

I am doing my best to get Jesus Christ out of the centre of the United Church, life beyond death, salvation of the soul, redemption from a miserable earthly into a blissful heavenly one are totally foreign to the faith and message of Jesus.

In the context of our consciousness of diverse forms of authentic religiousness, I take it as accepted that we can no longer see Jesus as ‘the only name,’ ‘the only way’ to salvation.’[v]

In testimony on behalf of a Wesleyan congregation choosing to separate from the UCC, Rev. Dr. Victor Shepherd, chair of Wesley Studies at Tyndale Seminary, said in 1996:

The [UCC] documents on sexuality cannot be reconciled and would be rejected outright by Wesley.  The new Creed and the Amendments to the Hymn Book ‘Voices United’ are non-Methodist.  The ‘Authority of Scripture’ is totally offensive to Wesley’s 25 Articles and Mending The World violates the principle centre piece of the Christian Faith…namely the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ…it is my opinion that the United Church of Canada has, in its articulation of its formal theology, and in its fostering of its day-to-day operative theology, contravened the Twenty-five Articles of Faith.  Such infringement has occurred not once but many times, and not witlessly by inadvertence (as might be the case with a denomination that drifted doctrinally on account of theological naiveness).  Such infringement has occurred, rather, as successive positions and policies have been adopted intentionally.”[vi]

In 1997, UCC Moderator Right Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christ’s divinity.   When asked, “Is there any truth that the United Church, or Bill Phipps, agrees with?”  Dr. Phipps replied, “The fundamental truth to me in the biblical story is that God loves us and the world unconditionally…The whole biblical story is one of unconditional love.” [vii]After publication of the Phipps interview, the UCC leadership backed his response.  Indeed, reflecting the level of support for such thinking within the UCC, Dr. Phipps was the first of the 36 UCC moderators elected on a first ballot.  And the future portends more of the same.  The New Statement of Faith for the UCC, issued for the 2006 General Council, names the Trinity: “Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,” “God, Christ and Spirit,” “Mother, Friend and Comforter,” and “Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love.”[viii]  Jesus Christ is not acknowledged as Lord or the Son of God.

Geoff Wilkins, Chairman of the National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations (100 reform churches of 3,500 UCC congregations) describes what may be called evangelical dissonance within the UCC:

At the end of 2003…membership stood at 608,243, down a massive 460,692 from 1965... We are an exhausted, depleted church.  Those who still have the energy to care, once again find themselves divided by controversy.” [ix]

The decline is in its 39th consecutive year with an average of 16,000 members leaving each year since 1988 - “one good sized congregation every 5 days.”[x]  And the recent chronology of events ending in full mutation into a declining pseudo-Christian church (a denomination empty of biblical Christian theological content) follows.  Ironically we start with a rare statement of orthodoxy:

1960 - First Report on a Christian Understanding of Sex, Love, Marriage.  This report stated: "Marriage is an intimate personal union to which a man and woman consent, consummated in sexual intercourse, and perfected in a life-long partnership of mutual love. Marriage is also a social institution recognized and regulated by the laws and customs which a society develops in order to safeguard its own continuity and welfare. A Christian marriage is one in which husband and wife have publicly covenanted together with God..."[xi]

1962 - Sanction divorce and remarriage.[xii]

1965 - Condone pre-marital sex.[xiii]

1968 - Issue a New Creed that does not name the Father and does not declare Jesus as God’s Son, Savior or Lord.[xiv]

1971 - The 24th General Council states, “abortion is morally justifiable.[xv]   UCC policy as amended in 1989: “As a forgiven people in Christ, it is possible for us to live in the midst of moral dilemmas…A child has a right to be wanted, so that it may have some assurance of this essential element in human development.  Bringing unwanted children into the world is irresponsible…Some practice of abortion is inevitable for the next few years while contraceptive techniques are imperfect and contraceptive ignorance is widespread, but the aim of all education, research and social pressure must be always to reduce the incidence of abortion and to promote effective contraception…We affirm the inherent value of human life, both as immature in the foetus and as expressed in the life of the mother and related persons. The foetus is a unique though immature form of human life and, as such, has inherent value. Christians should witness to that value by stressing that abortion is always a moral issue and can only be accepted as the lesser of two evils. Therefore, abortion is acceptable only when, after careful consideration, the medical, social, and/or economic situation makes it the most responsible alternative…We do not support ‘abortion on demand.’ We believe that abortion should be a personal matter between a woman and her doctor, who should earnestly consider their understanding of the particular situation permitting the woman to bring to bear her moral and religious insights into human life in reaching a decision through a free and responsive exercise of her conscience…We URGE the government of provide early access to early diagnosis and if necessary, termination of pregnancy so that any abortion should be as early as possible… We draw attention to the action of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada at their meeting in June, 1971: ‘That for the time being the fees for the performance of termination of pregnancy should not exceed that set in the local and provincial fee schedules.’”[xvi]

1980 - Issue sex report approving of marriage infidelity - In God’s Image: Male and Female: “it [fidelity] includes openness to secondary relationships of emotional intimacy and potential genital expression but with commitment to the primary marriage.”

1984 - Declare God indifferent to all sexual orientations.

1986 - Report on AIDS.  Under the title, “Theological Affirmation”: “We affirm that the Christian conviction that God loves and cares for all people includes persons with AIDS, and we reject the argument made by some that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuals.”  We call upon the church: “to affirm that the well-being of both individuals and communities requires not only social responsibility but also personal responsibility to refrain from high-risk behaviors and to adopt responsible behaviors, with a view to the care of one's own body and the care of those to whom we are bound in relationship, family and community.” [xvii]

1988 - Unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus can join and be ordained.

1991 – Work begins on the new hymnal Voices United.  Rev. Dr. Victor Shepherd writes: “… I am stunned to find Voices United naming God ‘mother’ and ‘goddess’ in six hymns and three prayers. Two of the prayers name God ‘Father and Mother’ (as in the rewritten prayer of Jesus, ‘Our Father and Mother...’)... Hymn #280 of Voices United exclaims, ‘Mother and God, to you we sing; wide is your womb, warm is your wing.’ This hymn squares perfectly with the fertility cults of old, together with their sacral prostitutes and their religiously sanctioned promiscuity…Voices United has virtually eliminated ‘LORD’ from the Christian vocabulary. The reason it has done so, according to the hymnbook committee, is because ‘LORD’ is hierarchical and therefore oppressive. In The Hymnbook the Trinity is referred to in over 50 hymns out of 506. In Voices United the Trinity is referred to twice out of 719 hymns. Plainly, the Trinity has all but disappeared. This is no surprise. After all, if God isn't to be called ‘Father,’ then God certainly isn't going to be known as ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’…Voices United combines fine hymns and terrible hymns on the assumption, apparently, that ‘nothing should be left out; no one should feel left out; there should be something here for everybody.’  For this reason what we call the ‘Lord's prayer’ has been re-written, ‘Our Father and Mother,’ even as ‘Father, Son, Holy Spirit’ is retained (twice only) for die-hard traditionalists.”[xviii]

1992 – Moderator clarifies policy on inerrancy of Bible in the report titled “The Authority and Interpretation of Scripture.”  Moderator Marion Pardy summarized the position: members are “to engage the Bible to experience the liberating and transforming word of God…with an awareness of our theological, social and cultural assumptions…with a sense of sacred mystery and in dynamic interaction with human experience, understanding and heritage…trusting God’s Spirit to enliven our understanding and to empower our acting.”[xix]

1997 - Adopt a policy to lobby teacher’s unions to promote homosexual affirming programs in public schools.

1997 - Moderator, The Right Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps, denies Christ’s divinity: “No I don’t believe Christ was God.”[xx]

2000 - Adopt a resolution to affirm civil recognition of same-sex unions.

2003 - Amend the resolution from 2000 to redefine marriage inclusive of homosexual couples.  Rev. J. Clark Saunders reports, “Out of over a hundred commissioners, I saw only four hands raised in opposition to the motion.  So I think we can say that the General Council’s support was overwhelming.”

2005 - UCC “prophecy” on marriage redefinition.  Rev. Dr. Jim Sinclair, General Secretary of the General Council declares, “Marriage will be enhanced, not diminished, religious freedom will be protected, not threatened, and Canadian society will be strengthened, not weakened, as a result of this [same-sex marriage] legislation.”[xxi]

2005 - FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE by the Committee on Theology and Faith states that Jesus Christ is not the only way, truth and life; the Bible is not really authoritative; the Trinity is deconstructed in a pluralism of new-age lexicon including “Bond of Love;” the Talk denies the day of judgment, denies original sin, asserts that all shall be saved: Divine creation does not cease until all things have found wholeness, union, and integration with the common ground of all being;” and, obviously, denies the Law (Christian moral code): ‘Scripture is not too hard to live out, nor far off, nor in heaven, that we should say, who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it.”[xxii]


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[i]Steven Chambers, This is Your Church: A Guide to the Beliefs, Policies and Positions of The United Church of Canada (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1993 Third Edition), p.13.

[ii] Laurie-Ann Zachar, “Moderator Controversy,” footnote 5,, 10/30/05.

[iii] Don Faris, speech titled “THE PAGANIZATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH,” before the Community of Concern AGM, April 29, 2004.

[iv] Allen Churchill, “At The Crossroads,” CONCERN, Vol.XIV No. 3, 10 August 2003, p.6.  Adapted from his Presidential Address at the 12th Annual Meeting of COC.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Gwyneth I. Lightbourne, The Sparks among The Ashes (Enumclaw, WA: Winepress Publishing, 2002), pp.112 and 113.  Available at or 877-421-7323.

[vii] “A Church leader’s view of Jesus’ life,” Hamilton Spectator, 27 November 1997, p.2,, 4/20/2001.

[viii] Committee on Theology and Faith, The United Church of Canada, FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE, , January 2005.

[ix] NACC Letter to MPs, 1 February 2005, regarding the January 17 Letter of the Moderator of the United Church of Canada to MPs,, 10/30/2005.

[x] “What General Council Never Mentioned: United Church Membership Loss (1988-2002), CONCERN, Vol. XIV No.5, December 2003, p.2.

[xi] The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, 38th Moderator, “Chronology of Marriage and Equality Rights in The United Church of Canada,” 8 October 2003,, 10/30/05.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] “Creed of The United Church of Canada,”, 4/20/01.

[xiv] Don Faris, “Choose Life!” CONCERN, Vol. XIV No. 3, 10 August 2003, p.2.

[xv] Child Birth Choice Trust, “Abortion Law, History and Religion,”, 10/30/05.

[xvi] United Church of Canada Social Policy Positions, “Contraception and Abortion,”, 10/30/05.

[xvii] Executive of General Council, United Church of Canada, Social Policy Positions “Report on AIDS,”November 1986,, 10/30/05.

[xviii]Victor Shepherd, “You Asked For A Sermon On Voices United,” February 1997,, 10/30/05.

[xix] Marion Pardy, “Moderator Calls for ‘Holy Manners’ in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate,” August 2003,, 4/20/2001.

[xx] Head of church denies Resurrection of Christ! Hamilton Spectator, Nov 27, 1997, p.A2,, 4/16/2001

[xxi] United Church News Release, “Same-Sex Marriage Legislation Offers a Win-Win Solution, Says The United Church of Canada,” 1 February 2005,, 10/30/05.

[xxii] Committee on Theology and Faith, The United Church of Canada, FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE, January 2005.