Looking for a church community for me and my child, young adult college age. So far trying to decide between ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and UCC (United Church of Christ). What are the differences between these two communities?
I can't give you a text book answer. I can say I am a member of a small church here on the ND/MN border where it is a combination of ELCA and UCC. We are not formally/legally one entity but we act as one with one unified Church Council and a retired Presbyterian minister. All I know is it works wonderfully, because we want it to. It is this works or both congregations would cease to exist. The biggest difference is Lutherans tend to be what is called "high church" and UCC is "low church." What that means is Lutherans, including the ELCA, have more liturgical structure, more ritual than the UCC. For us we just compromised so the ELCA in our church is getting "lowered churched" and the UCC is experiencing a "higher church." And our Presbyterian minister reworked communion so both camps are happy. As a UCC I would not be able to handle the true high church of eh ELCA but our arrangement works. If you have kids ask about the Sunday School and what sources they use. So far our UCC and ELCA parents are happy. A great think about the ELCA and the UCC is they both have progressive stances on gay issues and marriage. The UCC was the first church to hire an openly gay minister in 1972 and our formal language was worked out about 1985. We use the phrase "open and affirming." The Lutherans had a harder, much harder time getting there so I would say about 4 years or so ago they too went progressive (this is the ELCA) and use the language "Reconciled in Christ." So on that critical social issue the UCC and ELCA are very compatible. The UCC has a reputation for being very strong on social and economic justice. Many ELCA are in line with that. I am UCC and will always be UCC but I love my ELCA church members.