Who we are

For more than 140 years, First Congregational Church (FCC) has stood as a vibrant Christian community grounded in the radical good news of Jesus, alive to the Spirit, and engaged on a journey of faith.  We are an Open and Affirming congregation in the United Church of Christ, welcoming all who seek a more abundant life in relationship with God.  Our life together is animated by our experience of the living God, whom we come to know through the rhythms of worship, prayer, presence, generosity, service and growth.

FCC is a spiritual home to people at all places along life’s journey, believers and questioners.  In worship we draw on a variety of Christian traditions from ancient to contemporary.  We welcome diverse voices in our sanctuary through song and story.  Through inclusive language, thought-provoking sermons and inspiring music we worship with both heart and head.  Through service to our community we strive to be a part of God’s work of healing the world.

 HOW WE BELIEVE

Belief at FCC is best understood as a way of living, rather than an adherence to creeds or confessions.  Faith is not just a noun, but a verb, a process of sojourning with God, by which we are continually transformed.  As we seek to model our own lives after the life of Jesus, this way of living finds expression in several key characteristics.

Unabashedly Christian, Unapologetically Progressive.  FCC  is a Trinitarian church in the Protestant tradition.  We understand God as being expressed in  the world as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer (in the traditional language, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  We  are a member of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a denomination that  traces its roots to the Pilgrims and Puritans (we’ve loosened up a lot since then!).  As a Christian church, we  are empowered by the risen Christ to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,  pursuing ministries of mercy, justice, and beauty.

 Ours is a progressive theology characterized by intellectual curiosity and embrace of diversity: theological, political and personal.  We see the face of God in many peoples and places.  We acknowledge the Bible as the sacred stories of our faith, but we take them too seriously to take them literally.  We recognize the Bible as a human account of our long story with God.  Faith and reason are both gifts from God that accompany us on our journey.

We share an “open table” — all people present, including children of all ages and people of all faiths are welcome at the table of God.

We understand Jesus’ ministry on earth as profoundly counter-cultural, challenging the dominant powers and voices of his day.  He preached a gospel of peace, reconciliation and renewal, crossed accepted boundaries to welcome all to the table of God.  As one who came to “bring good news to the poor” he lived a gospel of liberation and love, emptying himself so that he might be one with the Spirit of God and a source of reconciliation for all people.  As followers of Jesus we are called to speak to and into the culture, institutions and laws of our own times, seeking justice and liberation for all.

A   Place  of Extravagant Welcome. We welcome into the full life of our community all who seek to know God and  live in love and fellowship with God, God’s people, and God’s earth, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, class, age, gender, marital status,  physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender orientation and  gender expression.  We believe that  we need everyone, because God could be speaking to – or through – any of us!

A Place Where We Come to Journey With God. We gather together as a  community in response to God’s invitation to the journey of faith, a  journey that is enlivened and animated by our worship together and sustained through our relationship with God and each other.  Worship of God is the heart and center  of our lives, a “deep time” where we are fed and challenged, inspired and  equipped to embark on this great adventure of faith.   We seek to enact worship that is beautiful, engaging, educational, authentic, honest and brave.  All the rest of our lives together – our service to the world, our learning, our fellowship – flow out from there.

A Place of Justice, Mercy and Peace.  As followers of Jesus we are called to be a part of God’s healing of the world together.  We walk in the footsteps of One who lived among the “least of these” and became servant to all.  We offer a range of  opportunities for service to the world including soup kitchens, food  pantry and homeless programs, HIV/AIDS nursing home, prayer shawl  ministry, and fair trade activities both local and global.  We believe that our love of God is shown through our love of neighbor – and everyone is our neighbor!

A Place Where God Is Still Speaking.  We believe that the promise of God is still alive, still whispering words  of truth and reconciliation into the world; that God didn’t stop speaking  at the end of the Bible, but has more to say; that God is still trying to  get our attention…trying to get us to look, to feel, to listen; that God is still speaking through the life and teachings of Jesus, even today.  To paraphrase words spoken  by our Pilgrim forebear, Pastor John Robinson, nearly 400 years ago, “there is yet more light and truth to break through from God’s Word.”

Despite his serious expression, the Rev. Amory Bradford, our founding pastor, believed in a joyful church “whose doors were always open to all.”

A Denomination of “Firsts”.  The United Church of Christ is a church of many firsts.  It was the first  historically-white denomination to ordain an African American (1805), the first to ordain a woman (1853), and the first to ordain an openly gay  person (1972).  Our founding FCC  members were abolitionists who fought to eradicate slavery and our      membership continued to include those who struggled for women’s suffrage, civil rights and LGBT rights.  Not  content to rest on the achievements of our predecessors, today FCC continues to stand as a public voice for mercy and justice.

A Place Where Life’s Too Short for  Long-Faced Religion.  We are confident that church doesn’t have to be boring.  In our life together we embody a belief  that a relationship with God is filled with depth, purpose and  excitement.  Our worship pairs      modern readings with the ancient story, world music with classic hymns,  and vibrant art with the awesome beauty of our Gothic Sanctuary.  We worship God with warmth and vitality and invite you to share it with us.

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