It began with the vision of one man, Rev. Kirby Hensley (July 23, 1911 - March 19, 1999). This vision was of a physical organization, a physical church that stood for, and upheld, the freedom and basic religious, moral, and legal rights of its individual members, ministers, and congregations. These individual members, ministers, and congregations would be free to exercise their own personal spiritual convictions, or beliefs, as long as they did not interfere with the same rights of others. This vision became a reality in the 1950's with the formation of the Universal Life Church with its International Headquarters in Modesto, California. From its modest beginnings, the Universal Life Church now has members, ministers, and congregations, around the world, standing for, and upholding these principles. The sun never sets on the Universal Life Church. Its members come from all walks of life and spiritual traditions.
Manzanita Hensley Lowarch, a daughter of Rev. Kirby Hensley, wrote:
"Traditionally, what do we expect from our church? We expect unity, a social network, a teacher of moral values, a forum for the exchange of ideas, a champion for the needy and downtrodden, a safe haven for all who enter, and (we hope) the truth. My church, the Universal Life Church, is all that, and more! On our letterhead you will find the phrase, "We Are One." We are one. We are one people united in our quest for religious freedom. We are united in our fierce defense of the First Amendment that we, too, are entitled to worship our God in our own way." (Universal Book)Being established on these basic freedoms and rights, the Universal Life Church International Headquarters does not interpret or set in judgment of a persons beliefs, creed, religion, race, color, or sex. It has only two tenets, doctrines, or basic beliefs. These are:
The first tenet is in complete agreement with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: Or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."The second tenet is also the essence and spirit of the Golden Rule in the Bible:
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12).The Universal Life Church has thousands of independent congregations and ministers and all are parts of the one church, like the hand and eye are parts of the body.
Its congregations are integral - not separable, parts of the Universal Life Church. They are parts in a sense only, for they are the physical manifestations of the church. It is the purpose of the church which sets the limits which our creativity works within. That work is: separating our purpose into functions and determining what the shape and sense of the parts - our congregations - need be. What they need be to fulfill our purpose. [adapted from the Universal Book]
A major purpose, or function, of the Universal Life Church International Headquarters is the Legal Ordination of ministers. The Universal Life Church is a recognized International organization and has fought many court battles through the years (and winning) to insure the legal rights of independent churches and ministers. The Universal Life Church stands between the minister and the government and not between the minister and God. The Universal Life Church believes that its ministers were ordained by God, according to the Bible, before becoming ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. This is in accordance with the Scripture,
After being ordained by the Universal Life Church, its ministers are free to carry on their ministry as they feel God directs them. They are authorized to perform all religious services including the rites of marriage and baptism. They have all the legal rights of any minister of any church or religious organization.
The Universal Life Church International Headquarters is not strictly a Christian ministry because of the non-restrictive nature of the two tenets which are established on basic human rights leaving its members, ministers, and congregations free in the exercise of their own the spiritual beliefs. In consideration of this, in 1995, and in complete agreement with its two tenets, its objective, its goal, and its slogan, Rev. Dr. Ken Allen, a minister ordained by the Universal Life Church, established True Grace Ministries, as a specialized Christian ministry, under the broad canopy of spiritual traditions encompassed by the Universal Life Church. Therefore, True Grace Ministries is an integral part of the Universal Life Church, with a definite Christian orientation.
Concerning the existence of True Grace Ministries as a specialized Christian ministry among the spiritual traditions under the auspices of the Universal Life Church, a few words quoted from Harry Emerson Fosdick's book, "Dear Mr. Brown, Letters to a Person Perplexed About Religion", pp. 110-113, are in order:
" . . . . this attitude -- Christians saved, all others damned -- runs into head-on collision with the whole concept of God in the New Testament as the merciful Father of all mankind . . . . . That seems to me stark blasphemy against the character of God. . . . . . . "Fosdick goes on to write:
"Having written this, however, I wonder whether we can now agree on a second matter -- namely, that what we have said does not mean that one religion is just as good and true as another. No one could think that unless he first believed that the whole realm of spiritual truths and values is illusory, so that it makes no difference one way or another what anyone thinks about it. Here, let us say, is a primitive tribe where illness is attributted to demonic possession or witchcraft, and where cure is sought by magic spells. Is that just as good as modern scientific medicine? Or here is a primitive agriculture, faithfully carried on in utter disregard of soil conservation, rotation of crops, and all modern techniques. Of course, that is not just as good as scientific agriculture. That is to say, wherever we think we are dealing with realities, we do have to distinguish between better and worse ways of conceiving them and dealing with them. So, because God and man's spiritual life are so real to me, I cannot suppose that utterly different ways of conceiving them are equally true. This need not involve any arrogant supposition that I know the whole truth, nor any unfriendly condescension, but it does mean the necessity of discrimination between better and worse in religion."These thoughts, so ably explained by Harry Emerson Fosdick, give impetus for the existence of the True Grace Ministries and its web site.
While True Grace Ministries believes in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind, it also believes in the special spiritual relationship of God with those who are in Christ.
"Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10, RSV)Therefore, True Grace Ministries accepts as "Christian" brothers and sisters all who have this special relationship to God through Christ.
As a Christian ministry, True Grace Ministries is established to be free of denominational barriors with Christian fellowship to be shared with anyone who through faith accepts personally that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He came in the flesh, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures." (see Matt. 16:16; 1 John 4:3; 1 Cor. 15:1-4) This is the "gospel ... by which also ye are saved" as stated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-2. With unity of the faith and Christian fellowship based upon this essential principle of faith, there is room for diversity of beliefs within the other non-essential doctrines of Christianity. This is true Christianity, based upon the freedom that is in Christ, as it was instituted in the very beginning.
True Grace Ministries strives to promote faith in God and unity of the Spirit among believers, and love and understanding
among all people. We pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). We seek to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called, with all lowiness and humility, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
True Grace Ministries
believes that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are
the only sufficient rule of faith and practice, and while not believing in
the authority of man-made "Creeds," the following is a listing of "Five Principles of Faith" and
Profession of Faith" that is used by True Grace
Ministries. These are summaries of some of the major doctrines
stated in the Scriptures.
True Grace Ministries believes that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the only sufficient rule of faith and practice, and while not believing in the authority of man-made "Creeds," the following is a listing of "Five Principles of Faith" and a "General Profession of Faith" that is used by True Grace Ministries. These are summaries of some of the major doctrines stated in the Scriptures.
For more infomation on doctrines, see the articles:
Everyone is welcome at True Grace Ministries and official membership is also available to those who subscribe to the above principles.