Faces at First Archive

Take a look back at the members we've featured in past weeks!

  • Jim hallman

    Being a member of First Congregational for over 20 years, I have grown spiritually within the family of our church. Most recently, I have become more deeply involved with volunteer mission work. Because of this, I feel that I am being led into new depths of understanding my relationship with our God, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit. I feel myself being challenged by the interpretation of God's Word during our worship time together. The way the entire Sunday worship experience is threaded together to form one theme - the music selections along with the Bible readings and the Sermon. What a wondrous gift of talents we have in our church. All of the experiences are helping me grow in my Discipleship within the wider Church of Jesus Christ.

  • Rich & cinda boyCe

    When I think back to joining this church in 1985, I know one thing for sure - I had a lot more hair back then! Cinda and I are grateful for the many opportunities and challenges that our church community has offered to our family over the past 30 years. We are especially thankful for the wonderful music program available to our son and daughter as they navigated the difficult teenage years. And we are also proud to participate in and be part of a church that supports our community in so many ways.

  • gina rossetti

    I have been a member of First Congregational UCC for three years, and from the moment I entered the Sanctuary, I felt like I had found my spiritual home. The Church's open and affirming commitment to all persons is evident in all aspects of the congregation. I have enjoyed singing with the choir, teaching in the Confirmation program, and offering sermons, as I fully realize my own spiritual calling.

  • ann mullen

    In my 83 years, many people have led me to where I am today. My parents joined soon after they married. I had wonderful Sunday School teachers, and in fact, many of the high school teachers were members. "Mr. B." (Rev. Whit Beardsley) was here when I was confirmed. During college, this was still home. Wayne and I were married by Rev. Edgar Cook. People during those years were a foundation for our growing family. This congregation has been a loving support during several of life's challenges. As I look around the Sanctuary, the faces have changed, but the love and care still surrounds me... and you!

  • megan (lockett) ruschke

    This church has provided me with a "second home" for my entire life. From my baptism to my confirmation, to my wedding in December 2015, I have always felt at home here. My time in Sunday School, Confirmation classes, and more recently the young adults community and mission trips, have made me stronger in my faith and desire to give back to others.

  • jenni hallman

    I am glad to have come to this church so many years ago. Through the years, I have found a place to be nurtured spiritually by sermons and Bible studies; inspired to help others in our community and abroad; able to financially support myself as a teacher in the wonderful preschool here; a part of so many good works through involvement with ministries. This church is not afraid to make changes to itself and take chances to make changes in our world for the better. Through the many opportunities of the church's self-growth and worldwide connections, we show others that God is everywhere and cares for everyone in this world.

  • dena provenzano

    I was baptized, confirmed, and married in the United Church of Christ. Now that my husband and I are raising a family, it just seemed right to continue attending a UCC... however, I needed to consider how my husband felt since he grew up with what I call a smorgasbord of beliefs being thrown his way. I am so grateful that he agrees the First Congregational UCC is the place where together we will watch our children grow in faith and love. I love knowing that our children, as well as all the children in our church family, have a place that they can call "theirs", where they are loved, accepted, and cared for no matter where they are on life's journey; a place where they like to come and be part of some truly incredible experiences lead by a truly incredible Senior Pastor!

  • laurie olsen

    I have been blessed to be part of the First Congregational family for over 10 years. Not only have I grown spiritually through participation in various missions of the church, but also I have seen my daughter begin her faith journey. The educational programs and mission opportunities available at First Congregational have provided an excellent foundation for her journey. I am proud to be a member of a church that is open and affirming and participates in so many mission and social justice activities.

  • linda schranz

    This church is one like I had never experienced before. I had become disillusioned with 'the Church', seeing what I believed to be a segregated, self-serving organization. First Congregational Church has shown me how good a church can and should be - loving, open, graceful, caring, and taking responsibility to serve our neighbors and others in need. My heart feels whole and at peace here.

  • lisa lockett

    The First Congregational Church has been an important part of my adult life. My husband's parents were married in this church; he was baptized and confirmed here. And though we were married in my home church, a pastor from First Congregational performed the ceremony. I had always felt welcome when I visited and shortly after we married, I joined too. Our children were baptized and confirmed here, as well. This church has been a support during milestones in my life, including the passing of my parents and, most recently, the marriage of my eldest daughter. I am continually amazed by the people here. When I am with my church family, I leave feeling a greater sense of purpose and inspired to give more of myself to others.

  • cathy sanders

    I often wonder what my life would have been like had I not found First Congregational UCC in Downers Grove. As an un-churched single parent in the '80s, I enrolled my youngest daughter in the Family Life day care. There I met others who convinced me to join the church. I volunteered many hours, working side-by-side with dedicated and committed members, and was mentored by amazing pastors and church leaders. I finally came to realize that I was not the one in control of my life, but rather God was walking this faith journey with me and challenging me to be the best I could be. I accepted that challenge and am still travelling the journey. Thanks be to God!

  • Courtney mChugh

    I have been a member of this amazing church for as long as I can remember. I was baptized, confirmed, and married here. I sung in the choir, played bells, and attended VBS during the summers. I have some of the greatest memories growing up with God's love, the never-ending support from my church family and I enjoy my faith journey. I want this for my children as they begin their faith journeys, and as I continue mine.

  • brett johnson

    When I first came to First Congregational UCC 25 years ago, I had never taught a class, chaperoned a retreat (let along be a camp counselor for a week) nor gone on a mission trip. Involvement here has broadened my experiences and my world view, especially through involvement with the wider Church. It's funny that I was reluctant to join at first because I was raised in and loyal to another Protestant denomination, because I now embrace the leadership, vision, and commitment to the Gospel in action offered through the United Church of Christ. God IS still speaking!

  • don duncan

    Cindi and I are extremely blessed to have found this church because if we hadn't, we would not be married. We met in this church, married in this church, and raised our children in this church. We still get motivated by the weekly inspirational messages and the opportunity to help others less fortunate than ourselves. The genuine community that we feel with the members is one of the many reasons we feel at home here. No matter where you are in life's journey, you are welcome at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove.

  • Beth drew

    When I was searching for a church home, I was seeking a community of young adults. When I first started attending First Congregational, the Community of Young Adults (CYA) had yet to be formed. To be part of CYA when it was forming and to have grown with its development, I feel blessed to have found so many friends with whom our faith was the foundation of our friendships. I feel like I have a community of faith that welcomes me, challenges me, accepts me, and helps me grow. With First Congregational, I am able to contribute in serving Night Ministry and PADS, teaching Sunday School, chaperoning youth events, going on mission trips, participating in and leading worship services, and serving on the Christian Education Committee. This service helps me to be a better disciple and grow in my faith and community.

  • ralph anderson

    Working with our Confirmands has been especially rewarding. Helping young people along their Faith Journey has fulfilled my calling into ministry. By living my Christian faith, I hope I've been a role model for all the youth who have passed through the program and continued their Faith Journey into adulthood. Perhaps some day, one of them will be inspired to return to our Church as a Confirmation Teacher!

  • Karen nachtigall

    When I decided to change careers and enter pastoral ministry, it was this congregation that provided the encouragement and support I needed to fulfill God's call. Now that I have retired and returned "home", I have found the same deep spiritual connection that excited me when I first came here. The commitment to active mission, social justice, and spiritual maturity is as strong as ever. There are so many opportunities to participate in promoting peace, caring for the environment, providing safe haven for those in need, building bridges of understanding, and most importantly, spreading the love of Christ. There is no place I would rather be.

  • marty schranz

    It is disheartening to me when I see so many Christians across our country behaving in a very un-Christian manner, discriminating against those who are disadvantaged or "different" from themselves. First Congregational UCC epitomizes What Jesus WOULD DO: helping those in need, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, openly welcoming to all, regardless of race, gender preference, or station in life. And we are led by a genuinely caring Pastor who "walks the walk". I am proud to be a member of such a wonderful congregation.

  • dick hill

    It's a religious ideal: "Look to the spiritual core in yourself and put the ideals of Christ into your thought and action as you go into your world each day." When I came here three years ago, I saw this concept preached and practiced in a new, vital way. It's in the spirit of the members - in their enthusiasm and commitment to the spiritual values of the church! This is truly a place where those "Ancient Words" referenced in the closing of each service are brought to life through its members. This is a great place to be! I have personally become involved with a committee, a ministry, search committees, and Bible studies, and feel greatly enriched by the experience!

  • david burke

    First Congregational UCC Downers Grove is a place where you are welcomed wherever you are on life' journey, as the motto goes. It is also a place where you can learn and grow in your own faith identity. I have found meaningful relationships and opportunities to serve in abundance in this faith community. I am extremely grateful for the lessons I have learned while attending worship services, participating in ministries, and interacting with my fellow congregants. To anyone looking for a spiritual home, or even just looking to explore their spiritual selves, I would say that this community is an excellent place to start that journey!

  • sue larsen

    My husband, Richard, daughter, Jennifer, and I became part of the FCC family in November 1992. At that time, we were looking for a church with a strong youth program. We found it and so much more at the First Congregational Church. All of God's people are welcomed and loved. I am proud to continue to be a part of this amazing church.

  • Stacey poulter

    I have been a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ for 40 years. I was born into the Church. My family has attended here clear back to my great grandparents. I have always felt loved and cared for by all, the minute I step through the doors. The eight years at college were hard to be away from a place I considered my second home. To sit in the church and see new faces and how far the Church has changed during my lifetime truly shows the Holy Spirit at work! To hear the weekly message in scripture, sermon, and music, motivates me to share the love of Christ with others and become a better Christian. I leave feeling renewed after service and that all will be okay in my life.

  • Brenda kras

    I was raised in a UCC church my entire life. In my younger years, there was very little thought involved in why I attended - it was the same church my grandparents and parents attended. However, as a young adult, I saw the challenges my friends faced as they learned more about themselves and how choice of religion could be confusing. I felt fortunate because as I got to better understand myself and my personal values, I discovered they were truly aligned with the doctrine of the UCC and open, welcoming, exploratory nature of First Congregational fit my own. Here I found music and children's programs, outreach, and social activities that make church a community beyond Sunday mornings; I found a place to reflect, ponder, grow, and share. I'm confident it will provide the religious foundation for my children as they become probing, questioning, inquisitive adults.

  • bill kundert

    Judi and I were members at another church in the area and had become dissatisfied, so we were "church shopping" when we came to First Congregational one sub-zero day in early 1996, where it wasn't much warmer inside ("boiler problems" we were told). But we received a warm welcome and enjoyed the service. Afterwards, we were standing in the parlor when two women engaged us in conversation; I later found out that one of them was the near-legendary Mary McNamara. She turned to me and said, "You have a nice voice. Do you sing?" I replied, "Yes, but I haven't really done much since high school." Mary immediately responded, "Oh, then you should join our choir!" The other person then said, "Mary, they aren't members. This is their first time here." To which her response was, "That's okay, he can still join the choir." I immediately thought, "Any church that can inspire its members to that kind of passion, even a little unconventionally, could be the place for us." And, it was.

  • nancy kupka

    Our family first visited First Congregational 18 years ago because I was told it was "family friendly". I did not realize at the time that we had actually found a place to belong that was much more than a building with pews and casserole dinners. I have come to understand that a church is a community of people who may have very different relationships with God, but who ultimately share the same values and work toward good in the world. My daughters have firsthand experiences of the good that can come through serving the community - locally and afar. In First Congregational, we have indeed found home and family.

  • barb hammack

    In 1986, we were looking for a church in which to raise our children. It was important to me that we find a church which had a strong social justice component. I knew I had found it on our first visit to First Congregational UCC DG. What I hadn't realized at the time was that I had also found a family; not just a building nor a particular philosophy, but people working together to help make a difference in the world. I have worked on several different ministries, but I am most proud of our campaign to become an Open and Affirming congregation. It is truly the people who make First Congregational UCC of Downers Grove such

  • anslow family

    Hi! We are the Anslow family: River (9), Jade (11), Matt and myself, Carrie. Matt grew up attending a variety of churches; I always went to my grandfather's church UCC Tabor Church and then St. Peter's UCC in Elmhurst. I have a deep connection to God and refused church until we had children - then I wanted them to have a better foundation than I could provide. When we found First Congregational and heard and saw all the things they support and involve, it felt like a good fit.  We do not always attend nor physically volunteer as much as we would like, but we love to go to church and give when we can. We are honored to call ourselves members of this church; to be part of this amazing, hard-working, and inspirational group of people. And we thank you for your continuous unwavering love.

  • gail clark

    Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Len and I would often go to the Two Way Street Coffee House to listen to some great folk music. After our second son was born in 1986, we decided to begin looking for a church home. First Congregational UCC, home of the Two Way Street, was our first stop - and we didn't search any further. We had found a wonderful, welcoming community where we could raise our boys, as well as grow ourselves by participating in some of the many ministries, committees, and outreach programs First Congregational offers. And I am continually inspired by our church family's compassion and caring for each other and our neighbors, near and far!