Describe how your congregation is organized for ministry and mission.

Our congregation creates and coordinates ministry and mission programming democratically via Ministries and Teams led by an elected Church Council. The Council is composed of Ministry Chairs, Clergy, Church Moderators, Treasurer, and Clerk and acts on behalf of the congregation between congregational meetings. 


Each Ministry is composed of three to four elected members and a chair. Ministry and Team members generally commit to serve a term of three years with a limit of two consecutive terms.  Non-elected supporters can assist with projects by volunteering their time and talents without a designated duration of service. 

  • We currently have eight Ministries, elected by the Congregation:

    • Ministry of Buildings & Grounds

    • Ministry of Christian Community

    • Ministry of Congregational Care

    • Ministry of Faith Formation

    • Ministry of Mission & Justice

    • Ministry of Outreach & Membership

    • Ministry of Stewardship

    • Ministry of Worship and Arts

  • We also have three Teams, appointed by the Church Council:

    • Endowment & Audit Team
    • First Congregational Learning Center (FCLC) Team
    • Personnel Team

    We also have a Pastoral Relations Committee for each called clergy composed of members selected by the clergy member and the Council. Additional Teams and Committees are appointed as needed. 

    All Ministries, Teams, and the Church Council meet monthly. Decisions made at the congregational, council, ministry, team, and pastoral level are shared promptly through Sunday morning announcements, weekly eNews, monthly Pilgrim newsletter or via special announcements. We are committed to transparency and make meeting minutes and decisions available to our congregation. 

    Copies of our Constitution and Bylaws, Personnel Handbook, Staff Covenant, and our current Annual Report are available upon request. 

Example of Church leadership in response to a crisis

During the worship service on the second week of Advent, December 9, 2018 the children’s choir and Christmas pageant, as well as a baptism, were part of the service.  

The Children’s choir had just finished singing and were sitting on the chancel steps when suddenly, immediately in front of the children, a man dressed in bulky clothing and a hat stood and loudly disrupted the service by quoting scripture, twisting it to berate us and our stance on ONA and other issues.  And he was not alone. Two others in the rear of the sanctuary started videotaping and later stood outside the church to engage anyone leaving the church. This group had picketed area churches and invaded two other Downers Grove church worship services. They had also been terrorizing Downers Grove High School students by picketing outside their schools displaying graphic abortion pictures.

This happened just five weeks after the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people were killed. The threat of violence was on everyone’s mind. The congregation listened in shocked silence for a few moments. Pastor Scott and several members quietly but firmly asked the intruder to leave, blessed him, and escorted him out of the church. We locked the doors and resumed our service, the childrens’ Christmas pageant, and the Baptism.

In response to this attack, we elevated our focus on our values and our beliefs. We held Bible studies to reiterate the reasons we became an ONA church and explored the seven specific texts used against the LGBTQ2IA+ community.  We created an active shooter plan with the help of a retired police officer, held special usher meetings, updated security measures and installed an easily accessible 911 phone.  

We reached out to other churches who experienced attacks and met with the UCC Fox Valley Association.  We took legal action to obtain a restraining order against members of this domestic terrorist group. We hosted a gun violence forum in our sanctuary bringing together individuals from disparate groups and once again, became the focus of hate mail and threats from state militia and rifle groups. 

Not every church is bold enough in its mission to be the target of such an attack because of its witness to the world.  Because of our visibility in the community, we were. We are proud of our church, its leaders and its members who believe in our values, act on them, and live out our mission in the world around us.