WHAT WE BELIEVE
WE BELIEVE IN THE TRUINE GOD: Creator, resurrected Christ, the sole Head of the church, and the Holy Spirit, who guides and brings about the creative and redemptive work of God in the world.
WE BELIEVE THAT EACH PERSON IS UNIQUE AND VALUABLE. It is the will of God that every person belong to a family of faith where they have a strong sense of being valued and loved.
WE BELIEVE THAT EACH PERSON IS ON A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...and that each of us is at a different stage of that journey.
OUR VISION& VALUES
Drawing on our heritage, we will grow by being an intentionally inclusive, multicultural, just and loving community that practices relevant and inspiring worship, mobilized to collaborate with our wider community by opening our doors to be a central gathering place that is dedicated to healing brokenness in our relationship with God, each other and the Earth.
First Church is a gathering of people whose loyalty to Jesus and understanding of the Christian faith may take many forms. We seek to welcome all regardless of faith understanding, ability, sexual or gender orientation or expression, age, race, ethnic identity, or social and economic standing. In loving acceptance of one another we seek an inclusive wholeness nurtured by worship, learning, celebration and service—all part of a faith pilgrimage. We hold discipleship above orthodoxy and inquiry above correctness. We acknowledge that our understanding of the Ultimate is crucial, yet limited, and our discipleship required, but never perfect.
OPEN AND AFFIRMING STATEMENT:
We know that as the Church we are many members but are one body in Christ. Each bringing individual pieces and gifts, only together do we find completion. With Christ we affirm that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that we are called to act as agents of reconciliation and wholeness within the world and within the church itself.
Recognizing the presence of ignorance, fear, and hatred in the wider church and in our culture toward specific members of Christ’s body:
WHAT TO EXPECT
Welcoming new people is one of our greatest joys at First Church United Church of Christ. You’ll find that we really mean it when we say that everyone is welcome at First Church. Our congregation is home to people of all ages who are single, partnered, married and divorced. Some of us are LGBT+ and others are straight. Some of us work with our hands and others in offices, and some of us are out of work. Regardless of your religious background, or your beliefs, First Church will do its best to speak to you, comfort you, challenge you and provide you with a spiritual home.
OUR HISTORY and OUR FUTURE
Back in the early 1800's
Off to one side of Tappan Square, facing east, stands the grand old orange brick meetinghouse, Oberlin’s First Church, once the moral center of a mission to spread perfection through the new American West.
First Church was built from plans by Richard Bond, a prominent New England architect, whom Charles G. Finney met while recruiting faculty in Boston. The structure that went up in 1843-44 was actually a mix of Bond’s specifications, Finney’s dreams, and the will of the congregation, expressed by majority rule. Finney wanted an interior with circular seating, similar both to the arrangement in the New York City church from which he came to Oberlin in 1835 and to the revival tent he used on Tappan Square during his first years here. His dream survives only in the curve of the balcony.
Building the church was a massive community effort, directed by Deacon Thomas P. Turner, a Vermont-born craftsman. Most of the locally fired bricks came from a farm just south of town. Huge whitewood roof beams, 12 inches square and 75 feet long, spanned the brick walls, and pine rafters and shingles enclosed the meetinghouse. The tower, taken from an Asher Benjamin pattern book, was added in 1845.
Finney served for 37 years as pastor to the congregation, which by 1860 was the largest in the United States. Beginning in 1852 with a visit to Oberlin by John P. Hale, Free-Soil candidate for president, the house opened for political and secular meetings. Over the next half-century, such eminent Americans as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Carl Schurz, Horace Greeley, Henry George, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Woodrow Wilson spoke here.
Although the auxiliary buildings north of the church have changed and expanded steadily over the years (the most recent addition going up in 1965), the outlines of the meetinghouse itself remain virtually intact. Remodelings occurred in 1882 when stained-glass windows were installed, to be replaced in 1927 by clear bubbly glass; in 1892 when 12 thick Doric columns supporting the balcony gave way to the present iron posts; in 1927 when the pulpit and organ loft were redesigned; in 1983 when a new ceiling went in; and in 2004 when a new organ was installed.
First Church is a City of Oberlin Historic Landmark, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST CHURCH IN OBERLIN - AN OPEN AND AFFIRMING, JUST PEACE, GLOBAL MISSION, GREEN JUSTICE CHURCH.
Founded in 1834, today we still emphasize our need to be centered in the worship of God so we may best accomplish the work of God. First Church in Oberlin continues to demonstrate an exceptional commitment to benevolence, mission work, and social action both locally and globally, through its individual members and its collective financial support.
We recognize our calling both as individuals and as the church to live in the world by:
ministering to its needs, contributing to the welfare of all, being enriched by those aspects of culture that help to make human life more human, working through institutions and supporting laws that reflect God's just and loving purposes for the world, seeking justice and liberation for all.
This is the challenge of the Church. We invite you to add your voice to ours as we seek to grow in faith so we might continue our heritage of love and justice rooted in the Gospel.eritage of love and justice rooted in the Gospel.
One of the most diverse Christian mainline churches in the United States, the UCC was formed in 1957 when several denominations merged. Now, the UCC comprises more than 5600 congregations with 1,200,000 members.
Each local UCC church writes its own constitution, creates its own structure, and hires its own staff, guided by the regional and national staffs. The same is true with issues of the day: Although the wider church entities encourage action, the local church decides what and whom to support. The overall mission of First Church is guided by an Executive Council elected by the congregation and comprising the Pastor, the Moderator, the Clerk, and six at-large Councilors. Standing committees, most members of which are also elected by the congregation, perform specific tasks or delegate them to appointed individuals or subcommittees.
The Administrative Committees of First Church are: Facilities, Finance, Ministerial Relations,
Nominating, and Personnel.
The Committees representing the life of the congregation, each of which includes an ex officio liaison member who is an at-large Councilor, are: Christian Education, Christian Outreach, Fellowship, Stewardship, Witness and Membership, and Worship.
TOGETHER, WE ARE PEOPLE OF POSSIBILITY.
In the UCC, members, congregations and structures have the breathing room to explore and to hear. For after all...GOD IS STILL SPEAKING.
REV. DAVID T. HILL
A graduate of Colgate University, he holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. After serving as Pastor of the First Congregational UCC in Jefferson, Ohio for ten years, he accepted the call to First Church in 2003.
Rev. Hill has served on numerous committees, as an officer of the Western Reserve Association of the UCC Ohio Conference,and as a Delegate to General Synod XXVI, the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the UCC.
Rev. David T. Hill
Director of Faith Formation
Jen is an alumna of Oberlin College and Oberlin Conservatory, and worked previously for the Conservatory as the Assistant Director of Opera. She lives in Oberlin with her three children - Nicole, Marcus, and Brandon.
Jen previously served as a music minister at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oberlin, and served Vermilion United Church of Christ, Congregational in a number of capacities, including Youth Director, Stephen Ministry Leader, and Church Secretary. She is currently attending classes offered by the North East Ohio School of Ministry (NEOSOM) and is applying to be a Member in Discernment with the Living Water Association of the UCC.
Office Manager, Financial Secretary
Miranda attends Oberlin College as a junior. She is a double major in math and physics with a concentration in astrophysics. She was born at the local hospital and has been living in Oberlin and attending First Church since 2001. She became a member in 2013. Miranda serves as the chair of the Outreach and Service Committee, is a childcare worker for First Church, and has volunteered for various events and roles at First Church since she was young. She enjoys creating various forms of art, reading, spending time in nature, and going to museums in her free time.
Church Office Staff:
DR. THOMAS BANDY
Director of Music & Organist
Tom leads the Finney Choir at First Church and also accompanies the worship services. He is an Associate Professor of Vocal Accompanying at Oberlin College & Conservatory. He teaches collaborative piano, English, Italian, and German lyric diction for voice majors, and seminars at the Conservatory in Czech and Russian lyric diction and vocal repertoire. Tom has his complete bio online with the Oberlin College and Conservatory. Tom resides in Oberlin with his wife, Rebecca, and their 4 children.
Dr. Thomas Bandy
Musical Staff Leaders:
Vicky Slowik, Celebration Bells