Faith Formation at First Church
First Church is committed to lifespan faith formation.
Through Sunday School classes, adult nurtures, events, and service activities, First Church strives to create a breadth of opportunities to help us grow in love of God and love of neighbor.
Theologically, we are guided by three principles:
“Here I Am” (1 Samuel 3)
Created in the image of God and received with God’s unconditional love, we are called to bring our full selves to God. Through God’s Love and grace, we strive to be a community that is able to care and lift up one another during both times of joy, as well as times of brokenness.
“To love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31)
Jesus’s great commandment calls on us to break down all the barriers that separate us from one another, and to work toward creating a beloved community that reflects God’s love for us all. As a church that has valued being open and affirming, anti-racist, and a Sanctuary church, we continue to stretch ourselves to boldly love our neighbor.
“It takes a village” (old proverb)
Whether it is Sunday School or intergenerational worship, service opportunities or community gatherings, we recognize that from the youngest to the oldest, together we are equal and indispensable members of our community. By caring for one another, living lives of discipleship, or teaching Sunday School, each of us nurture the faith formation of one another.
Children & Youth
Children and Youth formation is built upon the following pillars:
- A safe and beautiful nursery with trained childcare workers to look after infants and toddlers. Click here for our Child Welfare Policy
- Sunday School for Young Children (3 – 6 years), Children (6 – 10 years), Tweens (10 – 14 years), and Youth (14 – 18 years). Sunday School is taught by teacher cohorts and relies upon a progressive, scripture-based curriculum that helps all ages make meaningful connections between understanding and living out our faith boldly at home, in school, and in the community.
- Summer Sunday School – During the summer, we offer a mixed-age Sunday school curriculum upon a singular theme. In 2016, the theme was the “Lens of Faith,” where we explored the various ways to live out our faith. In 2017, we explored the Sanctuary Movement through a variety of age-appropriate activities where we learned about refugees, immigration, and the virtues of hospitality and community building.
- Confirmation – Between the ages of 12-15, we offer a three-four month confirmation journey where youth are presented with a series of classes, experiences, and journeys that allow them to explore what it means to be a person of faith. At the end of the journey, they are provided the opportunity to join the church as full members. In June 2017, four youth undertook the confirmation journey and joined the church. Their journey included discussions about the Bible and the UCC denomination, as well as visits to a hospice for the homeless and a mosque.
- Service Opportunities – Throughout the year, we have many service opportunities where youth engage in community service while growing in empathy by learning about the socio-economic barriers facing Americans from different walks of life. Most recently, we have served with Seabury Resources for the Aging to assist older Washingtonians staying in their homes. This year we will also serve A Wider Circle, a regional anti-poverty organization.
- Youth Mission Experiences – During the year, we strive to create youth mission experiences where we can do justice through service and grow in love and understanding of our neighbors.
- In 2016, we went to Pilgrimage, an urban ministry youth hostel in Washington, DC, where we explored the theme of community by visiting different neighborhoods, as well as the Social Justice exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.
- In 2017, we partnered with Westmoreland UCC to send eight youth to Hazard, KY, in the heart of Appalachia. The trip included both important service work of building affordable housing, as well as relational work where we met with various non-profits and arts organizations to learn more about what it means to live in Appalachia. We reflected upon the themes of community, hospitality, and the harm of negative stereotypes.
For adults, we currently provide the following opportunities:
- Bible Workbench – Sundays from 9:15AM – 10:15AM
This is a lectionary based Bible study that uses articles, op-eds, and contemporary resources to help us draw connections between the scripture and how we live out our faith today.
- Theology Reading Group
Each month, this group gathers to share insights about a pre-selected book of theology. Recent books have been authored by Marcus Borg, William Barber, Walter Brueggemann, and Henri Nouwen.
- Nurtures – Times Vary; Announced during Service & Online
Nurtures are First Church’s version of Adult Sunday School classes. They nurture our faith by introducing topics of spirituality, justice, and discipleship that allow us to more boldly live out our faith. Past nurtures have included:
- Spiritual Wounds: A Path to Healing from Religious Trauma
- Pastoral Care Support Group: Hospice, End of Life Decisions, and Ways to Care for One Another
- Teachings from Michael Joseph: A Missionary to Colombia
- The Sanctuary Movement: Providing Solidarity and Justice to Refugees, Immigrants, and All Those who Live in Fear
- Anti-Racism and White Privilege: Striving to be a Beloved Community