We are a community gathered through covenants.
At First Congregational United Church of Christ of Washington, DC we assert that community responsibilities and steadfast love balance autonomy and freedom. We affirm that faith and life are nourished by “covenants,” beginning with God’s covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, enriched by a new covenant in Jesus Christ, and sustained by mutual covenants we strive to keep with each other.
As a Congregational Church founded in 1865 we have been deeply involved in the history of Washington, DC Click here to read the centennial history of the church.
As part of a national denomination known as the United Church of Christ we remain deeply rooted in history and at the same time we engage the future to explore new forms of faithfulness.
We do not all agree, however we know that community is important and we come together to keep each other grounded in times of stress and receptive to the wonder of life in times of joy.
We approach the Bible seriously but not literally.
- preachers share insights and challenges based on scripture texts.
- Bible study sessions foster discussions among small groups.
- educational programs introduce children and youth to biblical stories and values.
- music stretches our understandings beyond words.
- prayers share concerns and celebrations.
- our community is bound together by covenants.
- we have courage to doubt, and we have confidence that God is still speaking.
- we are in covenant with others through the United Church of Christ.
- we come together through covenants, not because we agree on doctrines.
- we consider “faith” a verb rather than a noun, a journey rather than a destination.
What commitments are required to become a member?
When people join First Church they make a commitment our local church by affirming our one sentence Covenant, and they give Testimony to God’s deeds and promises using the Statement of Faith of the United. Church of Christ. (see below)
In grateful response to the call of Jesus Christ, we covenant with God and with each other to be a Church of Christ. We bind ourselves, in God’s redeeming Presence, to walk together in ways revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in sacrament and Word, study and prayer, fellowship and mission.
We give our testimony using the “Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ:”
We believe in You, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Lord Jesus Christ and our God, and to Your deeds we testify.
You call the worlds into being,
create us in Your own image,
and set before us the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge us by Your righteous will
declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord,
You have come to us and shared our common lot,
conquering sin and death
and reconciling the world to Yourself.
You bestow upon us Your Holy Spirit,
creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ,
binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and nations.
You call us into Your church
to accept the cost and joy of discipleship,
to be Your servants in the service of humanity,
to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil,
to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table,
to join him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust You
forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace,
courage in the struggle for justice and peace
Your presence in trial and rejoicing,
and eternal life in Your kingdom which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto You! Amen.
What has First Church done as a result of these promises?
We have taken “stands” around specific issues. Founded in 1865 by abolitionists as the first racially integrated church in Washington, we have publicly sustained long standing commitments to racial justice. We are an “open and affirming church” (ONA), welcoming LGBTQ friends and supporting marriage equality. We are a “just peace church,” committed to peace with justice. We are a people aspiring to be a “multiracial, multicultural church,” celebrating diversity and building bridges in our diverse society.
Open and Affirming
In 1973, First Church voted to enter into covenant with, and serve as host church for the Washington Metropolitan Community Church or MCC (a church that ministers predominantly to the GLBT community). That decision cost us some members well before the wider religious community took on this issue. In 1987 we formally became an Open and Affirming (ONA) church in the United Church of Christ. Read our Open and Affirming Statement.
Just Peace Church
In 1985 First Church voted be a Just Peace Church, focusing on the ways justice and peace are related to a range of issues, such as political struggles in Latin America and South Africa, race relations in the U.S., struggles for economic justice, and arms control. Read our Statement on Being a Just Peace Church.
A Multiracial Multicultural Church
In 2003, after a prolonged study, First Church voted to affirm a vision to become a more Multiracial Multicultural Church. Read our Multiracial and Multicultural Vision.
WELCOME: No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here
Perhaps you have been visiting for awhile and want to make First Church your spiritual home. Perhaps you feel God is calling you to deeper commitment. Consider becoming a member of our family of faith. As visitors, friends, or members we invite you to share a living promise to expand relationships and to explore new ways to be about God’s work in the world.
If you want to learn more about membership let the pastor know that you are interested. Plan to attend an INQUIRERS BREAKFAST (these are held whenever the pastor thinks it is appropriate to gather visitors and friends who want to know more about the church). Come and share your questions and hopes. Ask for a copy of the book, What Matters to You? Matters to Us. If you decide to join, the church welcomes new members during Sunday worship three or four times a year. If you are not sure, just come to worship, get involved, and ask questions. Each of us travel the journey of faith many ways and at different speeds.