First Congregational Church




A Church Where All are Welcome





187 years ago the very first settlers established Naper’s Settlement on the land that now rests in modern day downtown Naperville. Many of these settlers had come from New England, where they had beautifully established churches. With the hopes of recreating the religious institutions they had once called home, First Congregational Church was founded in 1833.

With a vibrant history, First Congregational Church has remained a huge presence in the community. While its congregation is significantly smaller than some of the other churches in town, its commitment to social justice has given it a particular identity. Being open and affirming of people in the LGBTQ community for 20 years, it is a place of acceptance for all people. No matter your age, gender, race, or sexual orientation, you will be warmly welcomed with open arms.

At the same time, the church has also remained true to many of its traditions. Arguably one of the most traditional churches included in this study, its beautifully restored sanctuary is home to a congregation that gathers to sing hymns each and every week. But with the undertones of interest in social activism and inclusiveness, the service does not simply feel like a traditional worship service.

The one of the most traditional progressive churches of this study, First Congregational church is

a church committed to welcoming every single person who walks through their doors.

For further specific information about First Congregational Church, feel free to explore the tabs below!


We are called to love one another as God loves us – freely and without reservation. Our unconditional love is inclusive of all God’s people. We denounce acts of discrimination and violence against any person. We welcome all who come to this place of worship and whose desire is to praise God and to seek Christ. You will find First Congregational Church to have an accepting, caring and nonjudgmental spirit where faith is renewed and power for living is found. A central foundation of our church is a dedication to justice and peace issues.


First Congregational United Church of Christ is a diverse, multi-generational community. We welcome everyone regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or physical/mental abilities. We celebrate the family in all its diverse forms, and honor all loving and committed relationships. Whoever you are, whereever you are in life’s journey, you are welcome here.

As a Just Peace congregation, we have promised to make a difference in the lives of others who experience injustice and violence in our nation and the world. We live this belief by advancing God’s love and justice in the world in our everyday words and actions.


Since First Congregational is a much smaller church, they only have one worship service at 10:00am on Sunday mornings.


Worship Space

Walking into the oldest church in Naperville, you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. With its restored sanctuary, old beautiful stained glass windows, and beautiful banners and tapestries, First Congregational Church seems like a perfect setting for a traditional worship service.

Congregation Demographics and Participation

With membership reaching just over 300 members, many would think that this small congregation is made up of primarily an older population. While there is certainly a number of older members, there is also a decent amount of families with young children and some young adults. For a church this size, the congregation is pretty well balanced and diverse when it comes to the age of the congregants.

This congregation is pretty participatory, as they clearly know and love the songs sang week after week.

Music

The music at First Congregational is traditional hymns which are both printed in the bulletin and in the hymnals in the pews (congregants use both). During the summer, these hymns are led by the pipe organ. During the year, the congregation’s choir lead. In the summer months you will also find guest artists singing anthems before the scripture readings.

In addition to their typical hymns, First Congregational also includes sung liturgy in its services!

Order of Service

Their order of service follows the traditional sequence, which can found in their worship bulletin here.

Communion

Communion is taken by intinction at First Congregational. However, the typical words used in Communion are different, and you are told to receive “God’s gift of love” rather than the typical “Body of Christ Broken for You” and “Blood of Christ Shed for You”.

Prayers

Since the congregation is smaller, people are encouraged to voice their prayer requests aloud during the time for prayer in the service.

What’s it like to be a visitor?

As it is a pretty small congregation, they know as soon as you walk into the doors of the church that you’re a visitor. But their greeters are very friendly and want to welcome you into their family. One of them even said she’d walk with me to coffee hour and talk to me so I wasn’t alone! While its always intimidating walking into a small church, this congregation is so welcoming!


Ultimately, First Congregational hopes that you will feel welcome. They want their community to be one where anyone can belong. There worship services are for the people of the church, striving to be friendly and inviting. But they also hope you’ll walk away being challenged.

Reverend Mark Winters had this to say on the subject:

I would never want worship to be so vanilla that it was like any other Hallmark card that you could pick out. Instead, I hope its actually stirring something. I’d like for people to walk in feeling a sense of peace and hopefulness and commitment or connection, that there’s something bigger than them and that they’re not alone in the world.


Since First Congregational is the oldest church in Naperville, their history is very extensive. This tab provides the brief overview found on their website. For a more indepth history of their church, click here.

According to their website,

Our congregation began worshiping together in 1832. On July 13, 1833, the Rev. Jeremiah Porter served communion under the branches of a large oak tree on the banks of the DuPage River, which inspired the logo you see on this site. Our church is the oldest organized church in DuPage county, the second Congregational church in Illinois and has been on its present site since 1846.

The church became part of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 1961. We celebrated our 175th Anniversary in 2008.

Our congregation has a history of social justice activism. First Congregational Church has a history of being on the leading edge of social justice both in words and deeds beginning with the abolitionist movement and the underground railroad. More recently our focus has been in the areas of Reducing Gun Violence, Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel, Welcoming GLBTQ people and Marriage Equality, Immigration Justice Issues and Homelessness.


Being passionate about social justice, First Congregational is pretty involved in the Naperville community. Reverend Winters is an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, facilitating conversation with the Naperville Police Department, and he works with the Interfaith organization as well. Every year they participate in the Cropwalk, host Youth Outlook meetings, and participate in PADS. Above all, they hope to be a safe space for everyone, and have been open and affirming of people in the LGBTQ community for 20 years.


Website: loveandjustice.org

Address: 25 E. Benton Ave. Naperville, IL 60540

Phone Number (630)-355-1024

Email Address: churchoffice@loveandjustice.org