About Us

 

 

prayer basketIntelligent dialogue and a strong independent streak are oftentimes what cause the United Church of Christ (UCC) and our 1.4 million members to be called a “heady and exasperating mix.” The UCC tends to be a mostly progressive denomination that engages in heart and mind. And yet, the UCC manages to balance congregational autonomy with a strong commitment to unity among its nearly 6,000 congregations, despite wide differences among many local congregations on a variety of issues.

While preserving relevant portions of heritage and history dating back to the 16th century, the UCC and its ancestors have proven  capable of moving forward, tying faith to social justice while shaping cutting edge theology and service in an ever-changing world.

The UCC affirms the responsibility of the church and within each generation and community to make faith its own reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, in purity of heart before God. It looks to the Word of God in Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. One of the UCC’s distinguishing characteristics is its penchant to believe that … God is still speaking … even when it puts the church out there alone. History has shown that, most often, we’re only alone for a while. Besides, we receive so many gifts from our ecumenical partners, “being early” seems to be one of ours.

The UCC recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.

BuildingConstruction on our current facility began in 1928. A young artist named Grant Wood was commissioned to design the sanctuary. The sanctuary has a capacity of 300 people, including balcony seating. In 1968, the sanctuary was remodeled to accommodate the new 1,735-pipe organ, crafted by Moeller Inc., of Hagerstown, Maryland. The remodeling improved the acoustics and provided maximum flexibility for worship services; orchestral, choral and organ concerts; drama; and special events.

Fellowship Hall, in the lower level, is multipurpose space that is used almost daily, including Adult Education classes on Sunday mornings, Boys & Girls Club games and activities on school days, neighborhood meetings, and meals for our congregation and neighbors.

In 1959, the building was expanded to include classrooms and the Colonial Chapel. Our church is handicapped-accessible, including an elevator that allows access to all levels. The elevator is accessible from Washington Avenue SE. Handicapped parking also is available on that street.

Our building is available for use by community organizations.  To reserve a room and for more information about our building-use policy,  please contact the church office.

The Church Council is the primary advisory and policy making body of the church, responsible for promoting its general welfare.  The Council is responsible for appointing committees that serve to further the purposes of the church. Council members represent boards and committees within the congregation. The Council meets monthly, usually at 5:30 pm on the first Tuesday.

Council members are:

Church Officers

                    Larry Taylor- Moderator

                    Chuck Russell – Treasurer

                    Judy Parks – Clerk

Board Representatives              

                    Mark Culver – Trustees

                   Carol Paul- Diaconate

Member at Large

                    Deb Scott – at Large

                    Lauren Crippes- at Large

Committee Representatives

                    Cathy Bixby – Christian Education

                    Corenne Liabo – Mission and Outreach

                    Lisa Lawrence   – Spiritual Enrichment                   

                    Carol Schaub – Membership and Growth

                    Mary Ann Dawson- Fellowship

Boards

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the oversight of church property and finances, and for all real estate owned by the church, which includes the maintenance and care of the facilities and grounds. Additional duties include preparation of the church’s annual budget and organization of the annual stewardship campaign. Eleven members are elected by the congregation to serve five-year terms.

The Diaconate serves as a senior board of our church. In coordination with the Senior Minister, the Diaconate has general supervision over the spiritual affairs of the church and builds the church community by contact with its membership.  The work of the Diaconate is currently divided among four committees:

  • Adult Education And Spirituality committee provides opportunities for spiritual growth, education, and deepened relationships for our congregation.  Committee members assist the Senior Minister in preparing and serving communion.
  • The Caregiving team provides care for members of our congregation and offers opportunities for others within the congregation to learn about and become involved in caring in  many forms.
  • The Fellowship committee offers positive, creative opportunities where congregational relationships can be deepened and connections among this community of faith can be strengthened.
  • The Welcome And New Members team makes visitors and members feel welcome and at home in our church and helps them become involved in the life of our congregation, including church activities, programs, committees and other aspects of church life.

Committees

Membership And Growth maintains the membership roll and encourages programs and events to attract newcomers to our church.

Pastor – Parish committee maintains a healthy and effective relationship between the pastor and the congregation by emphasizing positive approaches to solving issues. All issues discussed are confidential.

Christian Education promotes and supervises all educational activities, including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, childcare and special events.

Mission and Outreach engages the congregation in meaningful service to all of God’s people, locally, nationally and globally.

 

History


First Congregational United Church of Christ was founded on April 17, 1879, when a group gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Price to discuss their mutual interest in establishing a Congregational Church.  About three weeks later, the Articles of Faith and Association were signed by 24 founding members. The first service was conducted on June 1, 1879, at the Union Opera House.

A Timeline of Events:

  • In 1880, the church received its first dedicated home – a wooden structure at Second Avenue and Fifth Street SE in Cedar Rapids. More than 11 years later it was replaced by a stone building on the same site.
  • In 1925, Troop #6 of the Boy Scouts of America was chartered through First Congregational Church, the first  troop in the state of Iowa.
  • In 1928, work began on a new building – our current home. A young artist in the area by the name of Grant Wood was hired to design the church’s sanctuary. The sanctuary seats 300 people and features balcony seating. Members of the building committee traveled to New England to study other Congregational churches when planning the exterior of the building.
  • In 1959, the facility was expanded to include classrooms and the Colonial Chapel.
  • In 1963, the membership voted to become part of the United Church of Christ. The sanctuary underwent renovations including the purchase of new pews and chancel furniture, carpet and a fresh coat of paint.
  • In 1968, the congregation started the process of purchasing a new 1,735-pipe handcrafted Moeller organ, a fine instrument still in use today.  The remodeling effort improved acoustics and provided maximum flexibility for worship services, orchestral, choral concerts, and drama events.
  • In 1991, the building was updated to include an elevator and improved wheelchair access.
  • In 2001, the Workshop Rotation model for Christian Education was introduced for children in preschool through fifth grade.
  • In 2003, the congregation began renovations by studying the needs of the entire facility. Initial work began in the church offices and main hallways and included improved lighting, replacement ceilings and painting. Plans were developed to renovate the parlor, chapel, fellowship hall, sanctuary and restrooms.
  • In 2004, the congregation totaled 625 confirmed members and 100 youth, who collaboratively celebrated the church’s 125th anniversary.
  • In 2012, the congregation showed its commitment to families in the church and friends in the neighborhood by creating a new staff position:  Director of Ministries for Children, Youth and Families.
  • In January 2014, the 50-year-old carpet was replaced in the sanctuary and narthex, and the narthex and balcony were painted.
  • In 2016 the church steeple was painted.