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About Us

Our Mission

New Union Christian Church is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.

The historic and current mission of New Union Christian Church is:

  • to present the Gospel of Jesus with intellectual integrity appropriate for our time;
  • to offer a context and place for spiritual discernment, growth in faith and hope;
  • to support the ecumenical cause of unity of church and humanity; and
  • to promote peace with justice in our world.

We affirm the uniqueness and worth of every person and welcome all persons to the life, worship and community of this congregation. We extend Christian hospitality to all. Our congregation offers a traditional worship service with the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper combined with a reasoned and experientially based approach to Christianity.

In a time when modern life overflows with too much busyness, New Union, with its simple beauty and pastoral setting, seeks to be a place of peace, serenity, caring community, and hope.

Our Staff

Our Minister: The Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Kemper is the current minister of New Union Church and has served our church since 1996. She is the retired executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, which she served for 18 years.  She will retire from her service to New Union Church on June 30, 2017.

Rev. Kemper is a native of Lexington, a graduate of Transylvania University, and of Yale University Divinity School. She has received many honors and recognition in  50 years of active ministry within the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and in ecumenical settings. In 2001, she was honored by the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice with their Humanitarian of the Year Award, and in that same year, Transylvania University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on her, on the occasion of their annual commencement. Dr. Kemper gave the commencement address that year as well.

She has preached on Kentucky Day at the Washington National Cathedral (2002), and is well-known across the Commonwealth of Kentucky for her work on public policy issues and social justice, which have included such matters as health care reform, environmental stewardship, gun control, separation of church and state, economic justice, tax reform, pay-day lending reform, children’s issues, racial justice, abolition of the death penalty, gambling expansion, minimum wage and living wage legislation, housing, domestic violence, and many other matters of public concern.

Yale University Divinity School honored Rev. Kemper  with the 2010 William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Peace and Justice Award at its October 11–14, 2010 Convocation.   The Coffin award was instituted in 2003, and is given in honor of the ministry of William Sloane Coffin, former chaplain to Yale University, and one of the 20th century’s most significant religious leaders.  The recipient of the Coffin award is someone who shares Coffin’s passionate and prophetic witness, a courageous devotion to the dignity and worth of all persons, and who has made a notable contribution to the work of peace and reconciliation.   Rev. Kemper is the first female graduate of Yale Divinity School to receive this honor.

In 2016, Rev. Kemper was the Democratic candidate for Kentucky’s 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

 

 

Playing the Allen Organ, given by Arlyn and Elizabeth Wagner

Our Organist: Martha Jane Stone was the organist at New Union Christian Church beginning Easter, 1938.  We were deeply saddened by her death on Dec. 28, 2016.   After 78 years, she played three different organs—the first of which was a “pump organ”, and served with seven ministers, and has worn out five automobiles.  Much loved by the congregation, she provided musical support for our worship and meditations in music each week.   A graduate of Transylvania University, with a Masters degree from the University of Kentucky,  and with continued studies in music at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, she was also  a member of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘cello section until 2010.

Currently serving as organist is Theodore (Ted) Gentry, and outstanding musician and organist, who brings great beauty to our worship services.

 

Our History

Begun in 1834 when a group of Baptists who were members of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (also located on Old Frankfort Pike) separated from that church in a dispute over their desire to hear an itinerant evangelist who was presenting the ideas had emerged from the Stone-Campbell movement for Christian unity, that had its genesis in the Cane Ridge (KY) revivals in 1800 and in the burgeoning Enlightenment philosophies brought to America.

For a period of about 5 years, the separated Baptists met in their homes.  It is said that some of the wives of the men who were pursuing these new ideas were not happy about it, and so would often leave their petticoats to dry on the fire screen when the men gathered in an attempt to embarrass them and subvert their meeting!

In 1839, a brick meeting house, plain in design and simple in its architecture, was erected on a plot of land near Elkhorn Creek.  Over the years, the church grew to its largest size with a membership of 90+ adults.  Around 1850, the congregation delegated a number of its members to be the founding members of the Midway Christian Church, and Dr. L.L. Pinkerton, the pastor at that time of New Union, went with the delegation to form the new church.

The original meeting house stood until 1960 when it was determined by architects that a new roof could not be installed on the building without the walls collapsing.  Several of the members took the responsibility of razing the old building, which had no running water, and which had only had electricity since 1952.  They saved the old bricks and the pews, and these were utilized in the new building that was erected on the same footprint as the prior structure.  The new building was erected and dedicated in 1963 with great faith that the church would continue to exist in the future.  It included an undercroft with a kitchen, a nursery room for small children,  space dividers to create additional classrooms, two bathrooms (to replace the outhouse—a real luxury), and a larger entry way.

The glass in the windows reproduces antique wavy glass and is  very faintly tinted in hues of yellow, pink, and blue.  There are two round windows in the building, at the front, above the divided chancel, and over the entry doors.    In the outer circle, there are 12 panes of glass representing the 12 disciples; in the inner circle there are four panes of glass, representing the four Gospels.  The center frame  of the window forms a cross.

Other than symbolism embedded in the round windows and  a modest-sized brass cross behind the simple communion table, the building has no other religious symbols, denoting the lack of need of such symbols to mediate the sacred to the worshipers, who may find it in the fellowship, the worship, and the immediacy of nature as seen through the church’s large windows.  The communion table has center-place, suggesting that our remembrance of Jesus, the one whom we seek to follow, has primary importance in the congregation’s life.