The Congregational Church of La Jolla, gathered in 1889 and incorporated in 1897, is a faith community in the seaside village of La Jolla in San Diego, California. Our branch of the Christian church is known as the Congregational Way, which we believe was followed by the earliest Christians. This faith expression first arrived on American shores with the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620, and was the predominant faith of New England during the colonial era.
In 1957, Congregational Christians united with the Evangelical & Reformed Church (a predominantly German denomination) to form the United Church of Christ. Our congregation quickly voted to join this new denomination, a relationship that continues today.
Though it is not incorrect to identify New England Congregationalists with stern Puritanism, it should not be forgotten that the Puritans placed a high value on learning—demonstrated in the founding of early American universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. When the United States moved west, Congregationalism moved with it, and the founder of the University of California at Berkeley was a Congregational minister.
Many are surprised to find that these same stern Puritans were the first to ordain women into the ministry, and the first to openly oppose the institution of slavery. Much later, the successor United Church of Christ was the first American denomination to ordain openly gay and lesbian ministers, and the first church on a nationwide basis to advocate for marriage equality, regardless of sexual orientation.
No two UCC churches are identical to one another, but we all believe that the body of Christ is fully present in each local church, and that Jesus Christ is the sole head of each congregation. Though we treasure both our denominational ties and our ecumenical relationships, we do not believe we need look beyond our own congregation to be complete.
Just as we believe that each congregation is guided by the Holy Spirit to interpret the Christian faith according to its own principles, so we believe that each individual possesses God-given integrity to relate directly to the Divine with no intermediary other than Christ. This spirituality does not result in individual autonomy, but rather in a deeper sense of community and interdependence, in which we feel that sharing, listening, and mutual respect results in edification and growth.
Today, about a million Christians in over 5000 congregations call the United Church of Christ home. We are committed to covenant theology, inclusiveness of all persons, peace and justice, and the integrity of each congregation and each believer. As is the case with most churches in our denomination, you will not be told in our worship service what to think, but you will be given much to think about.