Tuesday, March 04, 2008

UCC Legal Defense Fund

Here's an update on preparations the UCC is making for a legal defense fund. Doesn't matter that this challenge to their tax exempt status due to Sen. Obama's speach at a denominaional conference is spurrious, it will still cost money to defend against it!

Dear members and friends,

As of this morning, UCC members and friends have contributed $59,564 to support the UCC Legal Fund. We are so grateful for the generous support that so many have provided since we were notified that the IRS had initiated a church tax inquiry due to a speech given by U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, a UCC member, at our 2007 General Synod.

Because of the overwhelming response from so many, we feel it is necessary, at least momentarily, to suspend additional requests for gifts to this important fund.
Today, we are announcing that WilmerHale, a prestigious Washington, D.C.-based firm, has been retained to represent the church.

Seth P. Waxman, former Solicitor General of the United States (1997 to 2001), will lead WilmerHale's top-notch team of attorneys working on our behalf. Read more.

As a sign of its strong support for the position taken by our church and the First Amendment issues inherent in this case, the WilmerHale firm also has graciously said it will not charge us for its attorneys' time.

While we know there will be other significant expenses associated with our defense, we are profoundly grateful to WilmerHale for offering its time without the customary hourly fees.

Therefore, at this point, thanks to the immediate and generous outpouring from our members and supporters, we feel it's best to suspend additional fundraising and to wait to determine, in the weeks to come, if additional money will be needed. We will keep a careful accounting of our costs, and we will ensure that the intent of our donors is honored. Questions about giving can be directed to our Financial Development Office at giving@ucc.org.

Again, the response over the past week has been incredible. Thank you!

The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

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