Pilgrim Congregational Church is a member congregation of the United
Church of Christ (UCC). The United Church of Christ is the result
of the gradual union of different traditions: the Congregational Churches, the
Reformed Church in the United States, The Christian Churches, and the Evangelical
Synod of North America. The UCC was founded on June 25, 1957, and has continued
to grow and mature since that time. The United Church of Christ is presently
composed of over 6000 congregations around the world, with a total of more than
a million members.
The movie Amistad, directed by Steven Spielberg, depicted an episode
in the battle against slavery. The Amistad Committee, which helped the African
Mendi slaves gain their freedom, was composed of New England Congregationalists.
The Amistad story is
an integral piece of UCC history.
Our tradition has valued local church autonomy and respect for individual belief,
while bringing people together in faith witness and action. We gather in covenant
and maintain a statement of faith which expresses our common sentiment but never
serves as test of individual belonging. We are inclusive in spirit and open-minded
Our Relationship to the Church and Conference
Our relationship to the national UCC organization is not that of a
subservient donor or passive recipient. There is no “central authority”
in the UCC; rather, congregations (and their members) hold the ultimate accountability
for their own beliefs and actions.
Every two years, representatives from all the congregations meet at the National
Synod, which is a “town meeting” of all the congregations. At Synod,
representatives discuss issues that affect the entire Church, as well as the
entire world. Frequently, discussions at Synod result in proposed policy changes
that may be instituted throughout the UCC.
In addition to the national body, member congregations may choose to gather
together in member associations or regional conferences. These intermediate
bodies exist for the purpose of helping local congregations with issues or
questions that are too big for one congregation, but too specialized for the
national Church. We are a member of the New Hampshire Conference of the
UCC, which supports congregations throughout the state. In turn, the NH Conference
is composed of eight Associations, which are geographical clusters of churches
that meet for support and for the maintainance of standards for clergy and
churches. We are a member of the Hillsborough Association, which was founded in 1827.