Proposed Social Creed seeks global acceptance

September 27, 2007

A small task force of six under the leadership of the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has been working on a 2008 Social Creed to replace the revised 1972 version, which can be found in the Book of Discipline ¶166.


The 2004 General Conference designated the period of 2005–08 as a time of celebration, education, and study of the Social Creed and Social Principles leading up to the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Social Creed. As part of that celebration, GBCS took on the task of writing a contemporary, timeless version to offer for future generations.


The final document was presented and approved at the GBCS meeting of directors held Sept. 13-16 and now goes to the 2008 General Conference.


The Discipline recommends the Social Creed be emphasized regularly in every congregation and used frequently in Sunday worship. However, even Bishop Susan Morrison acknowledged that she was not sure what the creed said or where it could be found when she was asked to chair the task force. “I have used it, but it wasn’t part of me,” she said. “One of the first decisions we made as a task force was to make it user-friendly.”


Another priority was to make sure a new Social Creed reflects the global nature of the church. The task force took a draft to Europe, Africa, and the Philippines for feedback and suggestions. “I was inspired by the level of enthusiasm and the knowledge among the participants and look forward to seeing a global perspective in the final draft,” said Bishop Øystein Olsen, episcopal leader for the Nordic and Baltic Area, who was present at the Oslo, Norway, consultation. Speaking from the consultation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, composer and organist Albert Tyre said, “We Africans have been so excited about the Social Creed more especially as it has been put into a song we could be singing.” Of the consultation held in Tagaytay City, Philippines, Nathanael Arnel De Pano, a songwriter and musical director at Kamuning First UMC, Quezon City, said he liked the idea of a more “reader-friendly, easier-to-digest” Social Creed.


“At the three consultations, every time we got to the music was the most exciting time,” said the Rev. Grace Cajiuat, a musician, conductor, and associate pastor at Appleton (Wis.) First UMC. The task force will send the creed to other musicians in hopes of receiving different arrangements in a variety of genres, including jazz, hip-hop, gospel, and rock ‘n’ roll.


The UM Social Creed has been the inspiration for other faith traditions to develop their own creeds, including the National Council of Churches, according to Morrison.


The new creed is poetic and follows the sequence of the Social Principles from the natural community to the world community. “It is written as marching orders for social holiness,” said the Rev. Mike McKee, a task force member, of the creed. Morrison said approving a new creed could be an important milestone at the upcoming General Conference: “If in the end we can approve a Social Creed that becomes part of the DNA of the future generations’ faith stories, praise the Lord,” she said. — Kathy L. Gilbert (UMNS)