Irvine United Congregational Church, Irvine, California
www.iucc.org
 
Irvine United Congregational Church (IUCC) has sometimes been styled as "that church," a name we warmly embrace.  We swim in a sea of conservative ideas in Orange County, California, the home of mega-churches like Saddleback (where Rick Warren presides), and Mariner's, and others.  In that milieu, we have stood for progressive ideas in theology, and inevitably, in other areas as well.  We are in a university town (University of California, Irvine), which matters a great deal; and the political elites in our city have been progressive / Democrat, which also helps.  We cherish a relationship of longstanding with a local Jewish congregation, University Synagogue, which is reconstructionist and very progressive.  http://www.universitysynagogue.org/   We are Open and Affirming, and Just Peace, in terms of formal appellations offered by the United Church of Christ.
 
As of summer 2009, IUCC is "on a roll" in the view of many of its leaders.  We have a talented senior pastor, Dr. Paul Tellstrm, whose capabilities in homiletics (delivering sermons) impress both first-time visitors and long-time members and friends.  Growing in number, and with formally-adopted goals for growth, we have a search committee working hard - and swiftly - to recruit a full-time associate pastor whose focus will principally be children, youth and young families, albeit with a community-wide sensibility where the health of children, youth and young families beyond the congregation is explicitly included.  That, we think, may nicely vindicate our Just Peace posture while seeking to reach out to a demographic that local churches everywhere name as important.
 
Pastor Paul and a music program that greatly excels for a church our size surely constitute part of our appeal, as visitors and new members continue to find us.  However, California's Proposition 8, which took away the rights of GLBT Californians to marry has brought to our door, gays and straights alike, who like IUCC were appalled at the injustice done at the ballot box.  We lent energy and publicity and talent and space and dollars and other resources to the fight against Prop 8, and no doubt we will continue to stand in that place.  We wish the proposition had failed - evidently.  We wish it had never been on the ballot.  Yet its presence on the ballot, and perhaps even the success of the anti-gay state constitutional amendment, have contributed to the fresh interest and stream of new visitors to our Sunday morning services.  At new member classes we hear again and again that our stand as a Christian church against Prop 8, when so many claiming the Christian mantle took the other side of the debate, brought IUCC to the attention of many who seek a Christian expression that radically welcomes all, very much including GLBT persons.  Our active membership list just passed 300, and we welcome an average of roughly 220 people in worship each week.
 
We take as a lesson to be shared, this:  stand for justice and lend energy to efforts to secure it.  Like-minded persons will find you.  When they do, the tasks of persuading them to come a second, and third time, and to join the congregation, become urgent, and we are grappling with those tasks.  It is a marvelous job of work to address.
 
The IUCC Moderator is presently Keith Boyum, who is reachable directly by e-mail at keith.boyum@gmail.com  Sharing of ideas is always welcome!
Yours faithfully,
 Keith Boyum