Our UCC History

La Amistad: Schooner

On the first floor of the UCC Denomination’s headquarters building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, you will find the Amistad Chapel, named after La Amistad, the schooner that held an uprising at sea of slaves bound for Cuba in 1839. There was a subsequent trial that led to all the slaves on board being set free.

Members of a predecessor denomination of UCC were involved in seeking justice for the Amistad captives, all the way to the Supreme Court. Amistad Chapel ties into the United Church of Christ’s historic mission of bringing about social justice.

The chapel’s oval-shaped sanctuary mimics the hull of a ship, and the curved shape of the high-backed seating resembled the interior of a boat.Nautical shapes, themes and artwork can be seen throughout the space. Carvings of a ship, lighthouse, fish and anchor grace the front of the tall, slender pipe organ.  Overhead is a tiered, frosted glass art fixture suspended from the ceiling. The glass is embedded with prisms, which are rainbow refractions that remind of the UCC’s commitment to a multicultural, multi-ethnic open and affirming church that is accessible to all.

Our denomination had a significant role in the Underground Railroad, and the fight to end slavery, the Suffragette Movement, the right for people to marry across inter-racial lines, and most recently, marriage equality.

The chapel was designed to be like the schooner ship, everything in it from the baptismal font and communion table to the lighting is architecturally significant. In fact, the space was designed by members of The UCC Fellowship of Architects, a group of professional architects from across the country. A small congregation of  around 35 people are holding worship in the chapel, and they are doing some amazing things in the community. If you are ever in the Cleveland area, you really should try to visit to see this amazing chapel.

You can find more info online, or go to facebook.com/Amistadchapel. Encore movie channel is showing the movie, Amistad, on Monday Feb. 20 through Sunday Feb.26, first released in 1997.



Submitted by Deb Bornholdt, Moderator, Community Congregational Church