While (United Church of Christ) UCC congregations have never shied from taking public stands for social justice, they have typically been less forthright in communicating about themselves.
Not so for Peace Congregational Church in Clemson, SC. Spurred on by dynamic leadership and the marketing and graphic design talents of two members, Peace Congregational has been not-so-quietly leading a movement in the Southeast Conference of claiming and proclaiming our UCC values in the communities we serve.
A relatively recent SECUCC church plant, Peace Congregational Church knows the importance of marketing, which is why members began a marketing campaign last year centered around 10 posters, widely distributed, and aimed at catching the public’s attention. With messages like, “Rock Bands Don’t Make a Church Modern,” or “Bible Belt Too Tight?” Peace Congregational did not shy away from walking the line of gentle provocation and controversy.
“They’re a little edgy, which is what we wanted, and they speak to the South,” said the Rev. Susie Smith, church pastor, in a recent article published by the national UCC News. “We knew we needed to reach a new group of people. There aren’t many UCC people around here that have grown up in UCC churches.”
And reach them they did. According to the Rev. Ms. Smith, at least four new members have joined Peace Congregational specifically because they saw the posters. Countless others have come as visitors.
Additionally, the existing congregation received a huge boost in morale from the project. “The whole congregation was invited to make suggestions, and we actually used almost everyone that was suggested,” said Smith. With the whole congregation involved, not only the creative energy was shared – but the goodwill it created as well. “We were proud of [the posters] and proud of the response we were getting to them from everyone who saw them, whether they were part of our congregation or not,” she said .
A lot can be gleaned from Peace Congregational’s successful campaign – from the congregation’s unabashed marketing efforts, to a congregation-wide engagement in the process. But not every UCC congregation has the capacity to build and recreate as successful a marketing campaign. Thankfully, Peace Congregational Church is as generous as its people are talented. While the congregation has specifications for use, the people happily share the poster files to all UCC congregations who want to use them.
The SECUCC could not be prouder and more grateful for the faithful efforts of Peace Congregational Church!