We begin with a few words of history as those words are relevant to the present. The story of First Congregational United Church of Christ began in Genesee County, New York. In Genesee County a group of anti-slavery Christians were stirring up trouble. A suspicious fire arose which was blamed on these agitators. That group of Christians (mostly Congregationalists with a handful of Presbyterians and one Methodist) was encouraged to leave town; thus, a journey in Conestoga wagons at the wrong time of year (winter) began that ended in Western Illinois where the group founded a church and a town. They built their church, First Congregational, as an anti-slavery church.
In time, the Presbyterians would build their own church, now known as First Presbyterian. Over the years, our two congregations have maintained a friendship. We are known to periodically share special services together and partner on other activities.
As one can tell, those original founders were trouble makers, justice oriented, risk takers, and had a vision for a better world. As congregations age they invariably go through various phases, one of which is becoming more stayed and part of the establishment. With this usually comes less risk taking and more "don't rock the boat". This often leads to less energy and membership decline. More time passes and a renewed connection with historical roots arises.
In recent years, this congregation has been actively involved with being a united and uniting congregation, voting to become Open and Affirming, open-affirming Likewise it is asking questions how better to communicate a message about a loving and welcoming God, less judgement and exclusivity, and a more open interpretation of sacred text/scripture. The congregation wants to be a safe place for those who are uncertain about their beliefs, want to think for themselves, value science and critical thinking, are concerned about the environment, and think of themselves as spiritual and not religious.
Here you may hear phrases used like: Womens rights are human rights, reject racism, love is love, protect the environment, we agree to disagree.
As this is a congregation that values independent thought, not everyone is at the same place on any given topic.
Worship is fairly traditional with hymns that are usually led by an organ or piano; although the hymns themselves are not always traditional. There is a choir, sermon, and time for children.
Generally on the last Sunday of each month, the congregation is experimenting with what is called "Messy Church." On that Sunday, the congregation gathers in the fellowship hall for an intergenerational experience that is worship, fellowship, and education. It is very intentionally a different way of doing and being church.
While Messy Church moves into the Fellowship Hall, every Sunday is thought of as intergenerational. Children are encouraged to be present throughout the entire service. There are activity boxes for them that includes a drink and a snack.
Mission and Outreach are valued. Every year sees a range of special offerings and actvities. Most years there are a series of unique activities for that year. See the Mission & Outreach page for more details.
As earlier noted, we are trying to be creative, think outside the box as we work at being church, the living body of Christ.