UCC Polity & History [Winter/Spring 2017]

This 12 week course examines the historical development and structural polity of the United Church of Christ. This course also spends time focusing on the emerging UCC and gives students a chance to explore social justice, world missions, ecumenism, and new and renewing congregational ministry within the UCC. Join instructor Rev. Dr. Timothy Downs (UCC Scholar and former UCC Pastor and UCC Conference Minister) for a course that will transform your denominational identity.

Registration for this class is currently closed.
Contact Rev. Jim Keat, the Director of Online Learning, for information about joining a summer cohort.

Important Dates

Registration deadline is Tuesday, January 10, 2017!

This course will run 12 weeks, Wednesday, January 11 - Wednesday, April 12.

There is an initial live session on Wednesday, January 18 at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

There will be a break Wednesday, March 1 - Wednesday, March 8.

There is a closing live session on Sunday, April 12 at 8:00 pm EST.

Information on how to sign in to the webinar is available in the online classroom. You will receive an invitation to the online classroom after registration has closed.


Learning Themes

  • Historical background of the UCC
  • Four foundational traditions and the UCC as a United and Uniting Church
  • Theology and polity of covenant, statement of faith, and extravagant welcome
  • Hidden histories of the UCC, the AMA, and the Afro-Christian Connection
  • Worship and sacraments in the UCC
  • Theological and structural implications of justice work of the UCC
  • Global Ministries and ecumenical partnerships
  • The UCC of the future: church revitalization and new church starts
  • General Synod: structure, purpose, and implications on ministry


Recommended Background

Whether you are seeking ministerial authorization in the UCC or a lay person interested in learning more about the denomination, this course is designed for you.


Course Format

The course utilizes the online classroom combining live webinars, recorded lectures, reading, online research, student discussion and interaction, and weekly assignments.



Course Textbooks

Please obtain the following books prior to the beginning of the class:

  • Hollyday, Joyce, C. On the Heels of Freedom: the American Missionary Association’s Bold Campaign to Educate Minds, Open Hearts, and Heal the Soul of a Divided Nation
  • Post, Margaret Rowland, History and Program, Revised and Updated
  • Thayer,  A. and Jacobsen,  D., eds. "Christ, Creedsand Life
  • Walker, Randi, The Evolution of a UCC Style
  • Zikmund, B. ed., Hidden Histories in the United Church, Vols. 1-2 (also available online)

Recommended texts (but not required)

  • Book of Worship, UCC
  • Living Theological Heritage, Vols. I-VII Ed: Barbara Brown Zikmund (available on flash drive from UCC Resources)



How much time will I spend engaged in this course?

This is a rigorous course with extensive reading, online research, student interaction and weekly assignments. Be prepared to devote 8-10 hours a week for successful completion.

Can I receive academic credit for this course?

This course has been approved as a three hour course by a number of Seminaries and Schools of Divinity. Students interested in receiving credit through their seminary should contact the instructor, Dr. Tim Downs (timothy.c.downs@gmail.com) directly.

Will my association or conference accept this course as a part of authorization requirements?

This course has been widely accepted to meet History & Polity requirements for Ordination and Privilege of Call in many UCC Associations and Conferences. It is the student’s responsibility to check with their local Association/Conference to determine the acceptance of this completed course.

I’m not great with technology. Is training available?

Technology training videos are available and a staff member is available to students who need further training.

Can I arrange a payment plan?

Contact Director of Operations Chris Hamel (chris@progressiverenewal.org) for more information.