Who We Are
We’re part of the United Church of Christ, a denomination of about 6,000 churches across the country, tracing our roots back to the Pilgrims who believed so strongly in living our faith in the world.
First Congregational was founded over 150 years ago by people who believed that slavery was wrong, that women could preach and that Christians could change the world through the power of God's love. Known during the Civil War era as Strangers Congregational Church, a place where strangers and those adrift in a strange land of Protestant fundamentalism could find sanctuary, the congregation changed its name to First Congregational in 1909. We were located first in the "downtown" area of the city, relocated to Central Gardens, and then, in 2001, moved to the Cooper-Young neighborhood.
One of the great strengths of First Congregational is that God has invited us, through the years, to move into a deep experience of community life. Many of us are people who felt "outside the lines" of traditional Christianity. Some of us felt like doctrinal Christianity left us empty when it came to finding meaning in life. Others of us were abandoned by our congregations when we started being honest about being gay or lesbian.
We come to First Congregational because we want a church which moves more quickly to welcome than to exclude, a church where the formulas for living are wide enough to include the whole of humanity. We believe that God loves us for who we are--not because we can repeat the right doctrines or force our lives into a particular cookie-cutter mold. We see in the Biblical accounts of the life of Jesus that God was able to love even beyond the boundaries of particular religious histories and traditions. We believe that we're called to love and to form community in the same way.
In 1991, we became an "Open and Affirming" congregation by stating that we welcome gay and lesbian people into the church, just as we welcome all people. As a "Just Peace" congregation, we are committed to working for justice and reconciliation among all people. In the past decade, we've grown from a congregation of 60 members to a congregation of 350 members.
What We Believe
We believe that Jesus connects us with a God of compassion, love and grace!
We focus on living our faith through service--and remembering that God is always with us, bringing the strength and renewal we need to be "in the thick" of service to the world. We feed a hot lunch to about 100 folks each day. We have a Clothes Closet. We have a Food Pantry. We share our space with approximately 30 other groups, embodying the partnership that we believe is part of the life of faith.
We focus on building strong community life--really BEING there for each other in times of crisis or challenge. Community is a rare and special gift, and we nurture community through our worship life, which is vibrant and strong, and a number of opportunities to form deep friendships and live into shared values.
We have a simple statement of beliefs!
That God created the world —
and that every single one of us has good work to do in life.
Our “good work” has to do with living in ways that reflect God’s agenda of love, joy, compassion and hope for the world and all
its creatures, even in the midst of struggle.
Jesus showed us how to do this.
He had radical trust in the Goodness of God and our ability to share God’s agenda of life for the world.
We can have this trust and share this agenda, too, by following in his way.
We feel more alive when we’re living from our sense of
connection—with God, with each other, and with life itself.