UCC to run ad in NY Times tomorrow

I can only imagine how uncomfortable and challenging the recent examination of Jeremiah Wright, retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, where Sen. Barack Obama is a member, has been for the members of the United Church of Christ. The UCC has raised funds to put out an ad in the New York Times tomorrow. The ad (PDF) isn’t what I would have wanted — it dwells too much on its history, subtly implying its best days are behind them; the UUA is prone to do the same thing — but it was wide to do so.

There’s also a video on the UCC site responding to unnamed interest in the denomination. Nice enough, a bit stiff and stereotypically churchy: kinda like a tuna casserole in media form. And it’s hosted by Hans. But I get the strong feeling that I’m not the audience, but anxious and edgy United Church members, because the tone is very cheering.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. It has been challenging. There are lots of questions and lots of indignation at least in my church. We seem like such nice people, after all. What a shock to find out out otherwise! It makes one wonder what other people think we actually do on Sunday morning…

    I didn’t think the NYT ad was all that hot either, but man, I missed Hans (which is something of a surprise). Perhaps I’m getting nostalgic for the days when folks got us confused with the Church of Christ and worried about swearing in front our pastors…

  2. Huh. I liked the UCC ad. As someone who has done a little sales and marketing, ads are supposed to be conservative, and supposed to reach a wide audience — mentioning the Mayflower seems right on target to me, as did mentioning Declaration of Independence, and Armistad. From a marketing perspective, I would expect the average reader to take about two seconds scanning the ad, and to get approximately the following out of the ad:

    “UCC, the Trinity Church Jeremiah Wright whackos … huh, Mayflower … Armistad, yeah, good movie … God … Jesus Christ … ” … at which point the average reader will move on to the next shiny thing, but somewhere in their reptilian brain is the equation “UCC = Mayflower = Christian.”

    Remember, you’re not supposed to like ads and marketing. You are supposed to be mildly annoyed by them. That way you pay attention to them, and the content soaks into your reptilian brain while your logical brain is telling itself what a crappy piece of marketing this is. And yeah, I do know what I’m talking about (a little), I was high gross and high net in my department when I did sales. But come to think of it, I hope you completely don’t believe me because then I can use my sales/marketing wiles on you next time I see you (mwahh-ha-ha).

  3. I will assume Dan is right on all counts. God knows I am attracted to/horrified by some of the local ads on spot cable right now. Er, but wait. No. The UCC may have got that message (and believe it), but I still the ads are bit too eager and too wordy by half. (A malady Unitarian Universalists share, alas.)

    So I’d suspect the best outcome is “this is a necessary response to those that don’t know us, and a way of reassuring our own.” Good use of the money, either way.

  4. For what its worth, my Dad said he liked the ad and couldn’t put his finger on why. Of course, my mom is UCC minister, I am UUA/UCC, and Dad is big Obama supporter. Its like winning your home game…

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