Joining us for the first time?
Here's what you can expect.
Who are we?
We are real people who care about engaging our world and our souls with what really matters. We are warm and eclectic. We welcome the seekers, doubters, and faithful believers. We speak our minds pray from our hearts, as our worship seeks to engage both heart and mind. We are commitment to aligning ourselves with the movement of God’s love in the world.
When did our church begin?
First Church really was the first church in Middletown, gathering first in 1662. The building we worship in now was built in 1873 in the Gothic Revival style, which believe it or not, was contemporary architecture at the time! We are proud of our history, and have models of the old church buildings that we would love to show you. The 4th building is actually still standing, behind O’Rourke’s diner on Main Street.
What is our mission?
The mission of First Church is to engage and support people in worship, learning, fellowship, and service, so that all may find in our community the Spirit of the living Christ. We are an Open and Affirming Church: All are welcome into the full life of our community regardless of their race, age, gender, nationality, marital status, economic situation, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation.
What kind of church are we?
While historically we are a Congregational church in the Reformed tradition of Protestant Christianity, we are proud to be part of the United Church of Christ. Our founding affiliation, Congregational, comes from the fact that we are organized and govern ourselves as a congregation at the local level. We are a mainline Protestant denomination (similar to Methodists and Presbyterians) with more than 1 million members in the United States and Canada.
What are our roots?
The roots of Congregational churches in America go back to the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620 and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pilgrims came from England to the New World seeking religious freedom at the time of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. The churches they established in New England became known as Congregational churches. We were puritans then, but have changed a bit these days!
What is the United Church of Christ?
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With more than 5,100 churches and 1.1 million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world. The UCC is a church of firsts, a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where “…they may all be one” (John 17:21).
What is Open and Affirming?
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.
Are children welcome in worship?
Yes! Children are always welcome in our worship services. Children of all ages are included in worship during the first part of the service and if they choose, all children are able to join for Church School after a Message for All Ages during the 10am worship service. On Communion Sundays, the first Sunday of the month, the kids come back early to break bread with the adults.
Who can take Holy Communion?
Everybody. We believe in Open Communion – that means that anyone who wishes to have the blessing of the spirit of the living Christ is welcome at the table. You don’t have to be baptized. We celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of each month. To make our Communion extra inclusive, we serve grape juice and the option of gluten-free wafers. If you don’t want the bread and juice, you can come forward with your arms crossed and our minister will give you a blessing.
How big is the congregation?
We currently average 120 in attendance on Sunday mornings and have about 250 members. We make sure people know that where ever they go in the world, First Church is always a spiritual home they can come back to. We think our church is a healthy and vibrant and growing congregation.
What time is worship on Sunday?
Our worship service begins at 10:00 a.m. and aim to end around 11:00 a.m.
What happens in worship?
We strive to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere at First Church. To begin, we share announcements and church news; we sing and listen to our choir perform beautiful music; we share the Passing of the Peace, giving attendees a chance to greet one another; we share the congregation’s joys and concerns and lift them to God in prayer; we read the Bible and talk about it through the sermon; we collect an offering to further God’s work; and we take communion on the first Sunday of each month.
What do you offer for children on Sunday mornings?
Children are a special part of our congregation and we value them as full participants in the life of our church. Sunday School classes for children (preschool through the 6th grade) begin at 10:15 a.m. The morning worship service often includes a Message for All Ages, as well as the collection of children’s offering. After the children’s offering, children are invited to Sunday School.
Is nursery care available?
Yep. Nursery care is provided for both infants and toddlers (to age 3) from 9:45 a.m. until the conclusion of the worship service each week. The nursery is located upstairs in a room above the parish hall. Our nursery has two playpens and toys and is staffed by trained members of the church and several of our youth who have made childcare their ministry.
Can I bring an infant to worship?
Yes! Infants and children of all ages are welcome to attend church with a parent or an adult caregiver. Children’s bulletins and crayons are available from the ushers.
Who goes to your church?
Many people live near by and can walk to church, and to some First Church is a destination they are willing to drive pretty far for. Our congregation spans all ages. We are quite intellectually and economically diverse, as well as politically and religiously diverse. We are married, single, divorced, widowed – professionals, students, professors, workers, retired — democrats, green party, republicans, independents — believers, seekers, doubters, yoga-practitioners, artists, musicians– life-long residents and those who have just recently moved to the area. But even more important than the kind of people who go here, are the kind of people who we’d like to welcome here. We are working on being more explicitly welcoming to the LGBTQ community and communities of color, of racial and ethnic diversity. We believe God’s love is expressed most powerfully through rich diversity.
Do I have to belong to your denomination to attend?
Not at all! In fact, many in our congregation come from a church background other than Congregational or United Church of Christ. We have many former Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Baptists. Some of us are spiritual but not religious, and others are religious but not spiritual! We are what some refer to as a “patchwork” church – people with different church backgrounds “woven together” by God’s grace.
What should I wear?
Listen, if you feel great in it, or comfortable, or just yourself, that is what matters. Dressing up is not a requirement to worship with us at First Church. Some do wear their “Sunday best” but you’re also likely to find others in slacks and a casual shirt or jeans. Your presence and your spirit are what matter the most.
What happens after church?
Coffee hour! Do join us for this, especially if you are new. We enjoy the fellowship of a coffee and light snack directly after worship, in the parish hall. On many Sundays we also offer a “Second Hour” discussion in the Memorial Room.
What kind of outreach is the church involved with?
First Church is active in a variety of outreach ministries, both here in Middletown, in the state, and around the world. One local outreach we strongly support is the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. We partner with other Churches in the Middletown community to provide food to families in need. Check out our ‘Justice’ tab.
How can I become a member?
Usually the process goes something like this: you start coming to First Church for a while, you feel the buzz and energy, you are thinking about people’s stories prayers throughout the week, you notice you feel better and more grounded when you come to church, so you tell one of the deacons or the Minister that you’d like to consider joining. Then we gather a ‘New Member’s Class,’ where we do basic education about our church. Then we want to hear from you- your faith story, what brought you to us. You become a member during a Sunday service, where you are invited to say anywhere between two sentences and two minutes about yourself. And we celebrate you!