On March 23, 1847 there was a group of 48 Christians whose strong opposition to slavery set them apart in their church missions. Believing that God created all equally and that all are seekers and not holders of truth, they founded The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor. Following their legacy, our mission is to be a beacon of God’s love, hope and Christian freedom.
What is Congregationalism?
As Congregationalists, we believe in the freedom and right of each person to have their own individual and personal relationship with God. We believe that no institution, not even a church, stands between God and us as individuals. To help us nurture our relationship with God, we have God’s grace, the Bible, prayer, worship, the accumulated wisdom of the ages, and a supportive community with which to journey.
The Congregational Church tradition dates back to1620 and the voyage of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to the “New World.”They came to America seeking religious freedom and an opportunity to worship and minister as a community of equals. From them, we have inherited a wonderful spiritual legacy, one that is uniquely suited to the needs of our contemporary world.
As a local Congregational Church, we are locally autonomous.We, the congregation, govern our own ministry, hire our own clergy, own our own property, envision our own call to service and worship, and define our own values and vision.There is no ecclesial authority over us. As seekers, not holders, of truth, we agree to honor each other’s interpretation of the Bible and personal faith journey. We seek to affirm one another along life’s pathway while being held together by unconditional love.
Resolution Reaffirming Our Commitment to Inclusion
The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor December 11, 2016 (Approved at a Special Congregational Meeting on December 11, 2016)
WHEREAS recently our community has been buffeted by ethnic and religious bigotry in the forms of violent physical and verbal assaults on individuals and groups.
WHEREAS The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor was founded in 1847 as a protest by its members against the institution and practice of slavery. As noted in our Church’s earliest written history: “The founders were men and women…devoted to the principle of human brotherhood, believing that all [people] are of equal worth in the sight of God and that each one is entitled to the full and free expression of their thoughts and feelings.”
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the current members of the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, reaffirm this commitment to the value and dignity of each human being and to the protection of the civil rights and liberties of all persons regardless of religion, race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or economic condition. We welcome all people to our sanctuary. We believe God loves and embraces all people.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we speak out against hate-speech, physical attacks, and threats aimed at individuals or groups. We work to make our communities free of hatred and intimidation. We welcome everyone of good will to join us in that effort and to embrace the task of reconciliation among all people.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that members of the First Congregational Church embrace the values expounded by our current minister, Dr. Robert Livingston: “The central message of the New Testament of the Bible, I believe, is a message of acceptance and abundance and love and inclusion. I am convinced more than ever before that the Church, and in particular this church, is called to be such a radical and accepting community in our nation and world today. We are called to be a body of believers who take very seriously God’s call upon our lives to live out and incarnate the good news of God’s limitless love and welcome for all people – no matter what one’s race, creed, sexual orientation, age, gender, marital status, economic circumstance, or political point of view.”
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we affirm our Church’s historic commitment to basic human rights and to the freedom and value of all persons which remains this Church’s guiding principle. It is the backbone of our congregation. “Whatever your story, you’re welcome here.”