St. John’s United Church of Christ is more than just a place of worship. We are an enduring family. Some of our members have been attending our church since they were children. Some still remember when the sanctuary had a balcony with a lovely view of the little stained-glass window in what is now the attic, or when the back wall of the sanctuary was covered in decorative organ pipes before we hired a struggling, formerly-incarcerated person during the Great Depression to paint the now-iconic “Man with a Hoe” which adorns the sanctuary wall.
We are a loving family. We’re located in the heart of downtown Jackson because we believe this is where we can do the most good for our community. We provide showers for houseless persons, our Samaritan Fund provides financial assistance to people facing evictions and utility shutoffs, our Food Pantry feeds hundreds of people each month, and our Annual Baby Shower provides diapers, clothing, and education for hundreds of mothers. Through thick and thin, we are bound together by a transcendent love.
We are a family who stands up for what’s right. We are an LGBT+ friendly church. We acknowledge the systematic oppression of black, brown, and indigenous people in our country and in our communities, and the ways in which we benefit from that system. We believe in the dignity of human beings, regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, heritage, nationality, citizenship status, race, ethnicity, incarceration status, medical condition, socioeconomic status, marital status, body art, ability, disability, drug use, education level, etc. We’ve put that belief in action by helping to found the Jackson NAACP, the Jackson Pride Center, and Partnership Park, and by sharing our space with the American Red Cross, the Jackson NAACP, and Head Start and Early Head Start.
No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
Every historical movement begins not with an organization, building, or land but with an idea implanted in a people. The idea provides the inspiration for organizing, building, and establishing the movement.
This was true for our faith ancestors, Abraham and Sarah, who set out on a journey of faith possessing only an idea born of God. It was an idea of promise and hope that the Lord would lead them in establishing a blessing for all the families of the earth. The idea was implanted in their children, and in their children’s children. Generations later, a faith community was organized around it. It was established in a land, and a nation was built.
In the same manner, St. John’s heritage goes back further than the organization of a congregation, the purchase of land, and the laying of a cornerstone. We, too, started with an idea born of God. It was an idea of unity among diverse communities of faith, union among peoples adhering to different confessions. The promise and hope was that the Spirit of Christ would lead us to breaking down the dividing walls that separate people.
This same spirit of unity in liberty was a part of the formation of the German Evangelical Church of the West which organized in 1840 at Gravois settlement near St. Louis, Missouri. From these roots the Evangelical Synod of North America was born, and our local church.
We have always been an open church, seeking to join with others in building up the beloved community Christ. We continually added other churches to the fold of our denomination. Our motto has been “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The United Church of Christ is part of a movement bringing people of faith together. We welcome all people. We are a member of the Open & Affirming Coalition.
As a part of the United Church we have continually joined with others throughout the years to serve God and build community. We were among the churches who initiated the Greater Jackson Habitat For Humanity affiliate, which has now built or remodeled over 50 homes. We helped initiate the Jackson Interfaith Shelter and the Aware Shelter.
St. John’s was the first church to become life members of the Jackson County branch of the NAACP. Now we are united with the Partnership Park Downtown Neighborhood Association. Through this non-profit corporation we are joined with residents, four churches, and agencies in strengthening ties that bind people together. We host a Community Baby Shower, and work together on a Community Garden.