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Our Story

Progressive Christians Uniting was founded by John Cobb, Jr. and George F. Regas in 1996 as The Claremont Consultation, which soon took institutional shape as the Mobilization for the Human Family. In 2003 the organization’s name was changed to Progressive Christians Uniting. From the outset, PCU was committed to articulating and living out a positive alternative to the kind of religiosity expressed by such figures as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Today, PCU defines its mission as “engaging people and communities to embody Jesus’ way of compassion and justice in our world.”

We are a growing Southern California network of individuals and congregations seeking to express and embody a version of Christianity that looks more like the religion of Jesus than the religion of empire. Over the years, the organization has been supported by several hundred individual donors, regional conferences and judicatories, and congregations throughout Greater Los Angeles, as well as by significant foundation support for its criminal justice reform project and for other specific projects.

Under the day-to-day leadership of Peter Laarman, who served as PCU’s executive director from 2004-2013, the organization moved its headquarters to Downtown Los Angeles and began to engage more directly with the challenges posed by low-wage labor, a dysfunctional criminal justice system, and the rising threat of theocracy. PCU has also expanded its efforts to serve as a useful resource for congregations, for clergy leaders, and for peace and justice activists within congregations.

 

 

Our Founders

 

Rev. Dr. George F. Regas retired as Rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena, in May 1995 after serving 28 years in that position. The primary focus of his ministry at All Saints was peace and justice. He led his congregation to oppose the Vietnam War, the escalating nuclear arms race, and the first Gulf War. He also established many programs to respond to human needs in the Los Angeles area: the AIDS Service Center, a medical program for uninsured children, a shelter for the homeless, and others. Always deeply committed to interfaith work, Dr. Regas founded Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace in the immediate wake of the 9-11 attacks. ICUJP has since become the primary meeting ground and generator of creative ideas for committed interfaith activists in Los Angeles. Dr. Regas continues to write, preach, and lecture widely. He is without question one of the most prominent figures in the national constellation of progressive faith leaders and is well known internationally as well through his work in behalf of the Desmond Tutu Foundation and in combating nuclear escalation and military adventurism on the part of the United States. This year George Frank Regas is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his graduation from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. He later studied with John A.T. Robinson in Cambridge, England, and he received his doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology here in California.

 

Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr. was born of Southern Methodist missionary parents in Japan in 1925. Most of his childhood was lived in Hiroshima and the Kobe area, where he attended Canadian Academy. Furloughs were spent in his mother’s parents’ home in Newnan, Georgia. Because of the approach of war, he returned to Newnan around Christmas 1940, finished high school there, and then went to a junior college of Emory University, located in Oxford, Georgia. Before completing junior college he joined the army to attend the Japanese language school at the University of Michigan, completing that program at Camp Savage, Minnesota. His subsequent military service was mainly translating captured military documents at Camp Ritchie, Marlyand. Soon after Japanese surrender he became part of the army of occupation.

After discharge from the army he went to the University of Chicago where he entered the Humanities Division. After a year there he transferred to the Divinity School, where he received the MA and PhD degrees. He joined the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. His appointment for the first year was part-time teaching at Young Harris College and part-time pastoral responsibility for six churches. He founded a seventh. The next two years he was full time at the college from where he went to Emory University for five years (1953-58). The rest of his teaching career, until his retirement in 1990, was at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. He has been guest professor at the University of Mainz, Rikkyo University, Iliff School of Theology, Vanderbilt Divinity School, the University of Chicago, and Harvard Divinity School. He also served as a fellow at the Woodrow Willson Center at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

In 1947 he married Jean Loftin and they had four sons. They now have five grandchildren. Jean served as office manager at the Claremont United Methodist Church and as a librarian at the Claremont School of Theology. On retirement they moved to Pilgrim Place.