3 Who Are We Now?

3a Congregational Reflections

Describe your congregation's life of faith.

We are an Open and Affirming congregation, with a focus on mission and justice and a strong connection to our community. Our mission and vision are on the home page of our website, along with our greeting “No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.” These are the first words of our Sunday service. We believe God is ever-present to support us through life’s difficulties, celebrate our joys and laughter, and challenge us to lead a life of dedicated discipleship. 

One of our values is to nurture faith as a lifelong journey. As a congregation, one of the great joys we witness is the Sacrament of Holy Baptism - the beginning of this lifelong journey of our walk together with Jesus.  During an infant Baptism, the entire congregation responds with our commitment to walk alongside the child in his or her journey of faith. At the conclusion of the sacrament, the pastor walks down the center aisle with the infant, symbolizing the lifelong journey and fully including the congregation. When our confirmands make their own commitment to their faith journey, the confirmand’s family and members of the congregation gather to lay hands upon them. Once again, the congregation demonstrates that they will support the confirmand as they continue to live their faith journey. Recognizing that this journey extends into adulthood, we offer opportunities to learn and grow through mission, fellowship, and continued Bible study as well.

In practice, we believe that our life of faith makes it imperative to be a witness to the work of God here and now, to boldly continue to proclaim the good news of God’s great love for all creation, and to lift up the poor and marginalized.

We do this by helping the homeless, at-risk teens, and working poor; hosting public forums on topics such as environmental stewardship, gun violence, and opioid addiction.

Our faith calls on us to serve and support each other and our broader community by living our faith through

fellowship and active participation in Sunday worship. We believe that having fun with one another is another act of faith and we bring that to our broader community through concerts in the park, parades, and community events.

Describe several strengths or positive qualities of your congregation.

We are a responsive congregation. Early in the pandemic, shelters closed for public health reasons. Our church began making and serving sack lunches and distributing toiletries, clothing, and gift cards to those in need while a group of high-school students was serving meals out of the trunks of their cars to others in need.  We joined these students and other churches, individuals, and community organizations to form the Community Kitchen in a building on our site. Hot breakfasts and dinners were served daily for more than two years - more than 16,200 meals. 

We are a resilient congregation. We hosted the UCC Fox Valley Association meeting just nine days after the 100-year flood left six inches of water standing in our entire lower level, including our Fellowship Level.  We continued hosting our Sunday worship services despite threats from far-right groups to hijack a worship service. We were united in our resolve to confront our feelings of betrayal when an associate minister was arrested for theft. We survived a ransomware cyber-attack that scuttled much of our church server network. We emerged after the dark, confusing times of COVID with a greatly expanded online congregation. 

We are a fun-loving congregation. We enjoy each other beyond Sunday worship and beyond our church walls. We even have a Facebook album entitled So We Like Cake. We have hosted Bowling Parties, Paddleboat Cruises, Tower Hill Campouts, Progressive Dinners, Trivia Nights, Murder Mystery Night, Game Nights, Ice Cream Socials. Pancake Breakfasts, Concerts in the Park, and Outdoor Worship Services.