A Letter from Our Associate Conference Minister

Dear Friends, Members, Seekers, and Visitors who have wandered on to this page somehow: Grace and peace be yours in the name and Spirit of Jesus Christ!

Welcome to the Fox Valley Association, Illinois Conference and the United Church of Christ – the church of tradition, the realities of present day living and, most of all, the future of the Church.  With the writer of Hebrews, we believe that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Yet the UCC affirms the responsibility of the church in each generation and community to make faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.  It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to lead the church in its creative and redemptive work in the world in new ways as our world and society constantly changes.  One of the UCC’s distinguishing characteristics is its penchant to believe that: “God is still speaking!”  That means to us that while the Bible is central to our faith understandings and belief’s, God is still revealing that same “Good News” in new and vibrant ways in the context of the 21st Century!  God speaks anew to us individually, as a community of faith and as a world.

The Fox Valley Association is a microcosm of the UCC – a “big tent” where we find each church seeks to live their own unique expression of our faith in ways which speak to its community.  So you will find some who are very traditional, some even evangelical, while others quite progressive in their worship, ministries and mission.  The UCC embraces the reality that faith is a combination of intellect, heart, spirit and soul.  We echo the Apostle Paul when he wrote: “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also.”

We believe that diversity doesn’t “water down” the Gospel of Jesus but rather explores and shares the wide diversity which is the God who expresses God’s self in the diversity of Trinity.  In our diversity, we find that though I may hold one view of faith and you another, together in covenant and dialogue we learn from each other.  We may change in our views, we may agree to disagree or, when the Spirit enters in, we can both rise to a broader, higher, understanding of who and what God is calling us to be today.

So if you are new to the UCC, I invite you to explore more through this website, the Illinois Conference and United Church of Christ websites.  Here you will find something familiar yet something very different in the variety of church communities you might have come from or explored.  Welcome to a challenging adventure of faith as together we seek to follow the teachings and example of Christ in our lives, our communities and our world – and even doubt and ask questions!  If you are a long time member of the UCC, I invite you to listen for what our Still Speaking God is saying to you and to stretch your mind and spirit and faith that you may grow and express the Good News of Jesus Christ in fresh ways in your life.

Again, welcome to the God is Still Speaking Big Tent diversity of the United Church of Christ – and know that whoever you are, wherever you are in life’s journey, you are welcome here!  Explore, pray, do something for God’s sake!

Blessings,
The Rev. Dr. James J. Olson, OCC, Acting Associate Conference Minister

Serving Fox Valley and CMA

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