First Church has had a long tradition of being a welcoming community. We recognized, however, that to be as welcoming and as diverse as we believe God is calling us to be, required intentional conversation and prayerful reflection.
In Fall 2014, First Church entered a period of discernment, where our congregation openly discussed our strengths and weaknesses as a faith community. After completing several weeks of visioning exercises, we proudly adopted a set of Core Values and Bedrock Beliefs, in which an overwhelming majority of our members chose our top-rated Core Value to be acceptance. These same visioning exercises generated other questions for us to consider: who we are and who we want to be as living examples of Christ. Subsequently, six teams were formed to look at various aspects of our church life.
In 2015, our church Moderator created an exploratory team to advise our Governing Board whether the church should enter a process to intentionally explore its welcome of all peoples. This team reported back to the Governing Board with unanimous affirmation that, indeed, the church would benefit from such discernment. The Governing Board established an Open and Affirming Discernment Team to lead this process: Henry Beazlie (chair), Kathy Berg, Jay Hershey, Margaret Maurer, Sharon Nichols, Kellie Ramirez (vice-chair), Dave Sarver, Kaeth Shaughnessy, and Kersten Swartz. The team’s ministry began in earnest with the arrival of a new Senior Minister, Rev. Nanette Pitt, in September 2015, and the church-wide discernment process launched in January 2016. During the process the congregation welcomed panels of guests, engaged in one-on-one and small group conversations, watched documentaries, engaged in bible study, read articles and books, and featured Rev. Malcolm Himschoot as a guest preacher. After this period of conversation and consideration, the congregation adopted the Welcome Statement at a Special Congregational Meeting on October 16, 2016.
Please follow the links in the sidebar to learn more. If you have additional questions or wish to engage in conversation, please contact us.