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What We Believe

First and foremost, we are a community of people, from many different walks of life, doing our best to faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We believe that we do this best when we live as members of an intentional community rooted in compassion, generosity and justice. 


At First Church we are connected to each other in fellowship, and to the world in mission. We worship and share Communion together. We give our time, talent and treasure to shape our society into a more just and loving place for all of God’s children. We especially emphasize caring for the world’s most vulnerable people. 


Jesus said “Come and follow me”. He instructed his followers to love their neighbor, and their enemy; to feed the hungry, visit the sick, and care for the stranger. If you also hear that call, then come, just as you are, and you will find a home here too.

Child being baptized in the Meetinghouse.
People singing in the pews in the Meetinghouse.

The beliefs of the United Church of Christ are best captured by some of our historic affirmations. 

In essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, in all things charity 

The unity that we seek requires mutual understanding. The unity of the church is not of its own making. It is a gift of God. Expressions of that unity are incredibly diverse. The common thread that runs through all is love.

That they may all be one

(John 17:21)

This motto of the United Church of Christ reflects the spirit of unity on which the church is based and points toward ongoing work to heal the divisions in the body of Christ. We are a uniting church as well as a united church.

Responsible freedom

As individual members, we are free to believe and act in accordance with our perception of God's will for our lives. We are also called to live in a loving, covenantal relationship with one another - gathering in communities of faith, congregations of believers, and local churches. Each setting of the church is free to act in accordance with the collective decisions of its members, guided by the working of the Spirit. They are also called to live in a covenantal relationship with other settings of the Church for the sharing of insights and for cooperative action, and for holding each other accountable to faithful discernment and practice. We recognize our calling both as individuals and as the church to live in the world by ministering to its needs, contributing to the welfare of all, being enriched by those aspects of culture that help to make human life more human, working through institutions and supporting laws that reflect God's just and loving purposes for the world, and seeking justice and liberation for all.

 The priesthood of all believers

All members of the United Church of Christ are called to minister to others and to participate as equals in the common worship of God, each with direct access to the mercies of God through personal prayer and devotion. Recognition is given to those among us who have received special training in pastoral, priestly, educational and administrative functions, but these persons are regarded as ministers - servants- rather than as persons in authority. Their task is to guide, to instruct, and to enable all Christians to do the work of ministry rather than to do the work of ministry for us.

There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word

This classic statement assumes the primacy of the Bible as a source for understanding the Good News. It recognizes that the Bible, though written in specific historical times and places, still speaks to us in our present condition. It declares that the study of the Scriptures is not limited by past interpretations but is to be pursued with expectancy for new insights and help for living today.

Testimonies of faith rather than test of faith

The United Church of Christ has no required creeds, confessions, catechisms, or other tests of faith. We acknowledge that each person’s unique experience with God shapes individual understandings. We also affirm that sharing these experiences together in community enriches all of our understanding of the Divine. Historic statements such as the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform and the Kansas City Statement of Faith are valued as testimonies of faith that may help us seek greater insight into our Creator.

This is the challenge of the United Church of Christ.

The UCC Relationship

As part of the United Church of Christ (UCC), First Church is in covenantal partnership with all of the other settings of the UCC. We are a free, independent, and autonomous church, in keeping with our Congregational roots, yet we are also in a deep relational bond with our fellow congregations and we work together in close partnership to hold each other accountable to living out our faith. In the UCC, there are no bishops or presiding church officials. Representatives from each setting of the Church gather regularly at the regional and national levels to discern answers together through conversation, prayer, and the democratic process. 


As a denomination in the Protestant Reformed tradition, we affirm the priesthood of all believers, recognizing that there are many ways to understand and be in relationship with God. We seek kinship with all people who claim the title of Christian and seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge God’s presence in Scripture, Worship, and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, as well as God’s continuing revelation through the Holy Spirit in each moment of daily life.


The characteristics of the United Church of Christ can be summarized in part by the identities of the five traditions that formed our denominational union in 1957: Christian, Reformed, Congregational, Evangelical and Afro-Christian. 


By our very name, the United Church of Christ, we declare ourselves to be a part of the body of Christ -- the Christian church. We continue the witness of the early disciples to the reality and power of the crucified and risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.


The basic unit of the United Church of Christ is the congregation. Members of each congregation covenant with one another and with God as revealed in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These congregations, in turn, exist in covenant relationships with one another to form larger structures for more effective work. Our covenanting emphasizes trustful relationships rather than legal agreements.


All four denominations arose from the tradition of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers: We confess the authority of one God. We affirm the primacy of the Scriptures, the doctrine of justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the principle of Christian freedom. We celebrate two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.


The primary task of the church is the proclamation of the gospel, or evangel -- the good news of God's love revealed with power in Jesus Christ. We proclaim this gospel by word and deed to individual persons and to society. This proclamation is the heart of the liturgia -- the work of the people. We gather each Sunday for the worship of God, and through each week, we engage in the service of humankind.


The formation of the UCC brought together under one umbrella the beliefs and practices of African people and their American descendants with Euro-American traditions, merging diverse customs while focusing on liberation, advocacy and social justice. The diversity of the UCC is further reflected in faithful congregations of Native Hawaiians, Indigenous Americans, Puerto Ricans, Hungarians, Armenians, Volga Germans, and others. 

Open + Welcoming + Affirming

United Church of Christ logo in rainbow colors

The following statement was adopted by our congregation in 1994 and revised and reaffirmed in 2014 to reflect our commitment and our alignment with other United Church of Christ congregations.


Open, Welcoming & Affirming Statement of First Church of Christ, Congregational*
We understand that we are all children of God who are called to be in community. Any person who joins us in membership shall be part of our Church family and shall be invited to share fully in our Church life and ministries.
Our Church seeks to break down the barriers of prejudice, declaring respect for the worth and dignity of all persons who come to our Church family regardless of race, age, marital standing, gender identity or gender expression, economic status, mental or physical challenges, nationality or sexual orientation. With Jesus Christ as our guide, we rely intentionally upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring us together as a community of justice and love.
As an open, welcoming and affirming Church, we join with our siblings in the United Church of Christ who are like-minded in this struggle for love and justice.

As an LGBTQ friendly church / gay friendly church, our pastors perform marriages for all couples.

*Amended at the 2014 Annual Meeting. First Church is a member of the Open and Affirming program of the United Church of Christ.

First Church youth posing on rainbow bridge to represent open and affirming.

Creating bridges where others create walls

Signs posted along church sidewalks to commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance

Trans Day of Remembrance

Going Green

In 2013, First Church was named a Green Congregation by the United Church of Christ Connecticut Conference Environmental Ministry Team. To earn this distinction, First Church made more than two dozen improvements to our church, including replacing almost all incandescent bulbs with low energy bulbs, minimizing the use of Styrofoam products which do not decompose, shifting to organic lawn care, installing programmable thermostats, changing to high efficiency gas furnaces and low-flow water heaters, and installing motion sensor lights in most hallways and high-use rooms.

Planting a pollinator garden with the Church School group

United Church of Christ - Resources

Below are links to United Church of Christ websites and a Christian Environmental Organization. These links are provided for informational purposes only, and do not necessarily represent an endorsement by First Church of the positions held or advocated on any website listed below.

  1. United Church of Christ

  2. United Church of Christ - Statement of Faith

  3. Southern New England UCC Conference

  4. Silver Lake Conference Center - The Home of the Outdoor Ministries of the Connecticut Conference of the UCC

  5. Interreligious Eco-Justice Network - Empowering and Inspiring Religious Communities in Connecticut to be Faithful Stewards of the Earth

Church Bylaws

View the bylaws established in May 2021

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