Who we are and who we are becoming
No human label — straight, gay, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, disabled or anything else — can be a barrier to ... (need words here)
Our Vision Statement
To be a diverse and caring congregation fully equipped to render service to God in promoting justice for all living beings and the earth.
Who We Are: Our Core Values
Worship is at the heart of what we do and who we are.
We strive to offer an extravagant welcome to all.
We strive to respect each other in our diversity.
As a Creation Justice Church, we are committed to walk in God’s ways by cherishing the earth and all living beings.
We are inclusive and love each other not in spite of our differences, but because of them.
We are grounded in Sarasota, reaching out beyond our walls to neighbors near and far.
We are a joyful covenant partner with the United Church of Christ.
Who We Are Becoming: Renewed in God!
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
The church continues to undergo a shift. Demands on people’s time, concerns about authenticity, leadership, cultural climate, and physical world may make you wonder, “Where is God?” While this is a faithful question from our hearts, it is not new. In fact, Isaiah answered this question thousands of years ago. God’s people had been put in Exile, away from their homes and temple. They were isolated, afraid, alone, unsure what tomorrow would bring, wondering who loved them.
God proclaimed through Isaiah that we don’t have to be stuck or stymied in the past. God is still speaking, creating, renewing, reconciling, and at work in our world. God is doing a new thing. God is calling us to bridge chasms and canyons of race. God is calling us to be hope in a hurting world. God is calling us to imagine that there is more than what is. While some may cynically point to the brokenness, we know that from the very beginning God created out of chaos. We set our hearts toward God’s vision of bringing about God’s just world for all created beings. We work faithfully and prayerfully for the healing and wholeness of Creation ~ God’s first testimony of love. We work faithfully and prayerfully to end discrimination against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We work faithfully and prayerfully to discuss American’s original sin of racism and everyone is made in God’s image.
We encourage and invite you to join us in this faithful, loving work for today.
Living Our Vision: Promoting Justice
At the center of our beliefs as a church are our Racial Justice, Creation Justice and Open and Affirming Covenants that guide who we are and what we do. Please take the time to read them below.
We of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida, by vote of our Church Council and congregation, commit to God and one another our covenant with our sisters and brothers of color.
As we celebrate the diversity of the people of God, we commit to remain a congregation that welcomes all our brothers and sisters with love and support. We will be a place in which we all can be fully ourselves and where our full selves are embraced. We will serve as a refuge from hurtful words and harmful actions too often directed against others.
First Congregational United Church of Christ of Sarasota has a history of embracing diversity and racial equity. We have sought and still seek to confront racism and the oppression of people of color. We strive to model the love and grace of Jesus as he reached out to all, especially those on the margins.
We reaffirm our Christian call to understanding and unity through discussion, research and the sharing of personal witness to identify systemic racism in all its forms.
We lament current racial injustice conditions, and commit to actionable steps of hard listening and anti-racist engagement by our ministers, church officers, church community and as individual participants in our local and greater community. These steps will build on our current practices of intentionally selecting diverse lay leadership, and promoting programs and community activities that reflect our stance on diversity and inclusion.
We reaffirm our commitment to policies of equity and steps to dismantle harmful myths, actions, rules and laws. We also commit to celebrating different cultures and voices, both in worship and in our community.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
This covenant statement is hereby adopted this 30th day of January, 2022, by unanimous vote of our Church Council and the vote of our congregation.
Creation Justice Covenant
We of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida, by vote of our Church Council and ratification by our Congregation, do solemnly commit to God, one another, and all creatures, to walk in God’s ways by cherishing the earth and all living beings who dwell upon it. This is the divine creation and we commit to promoting its health and sustainability.
We acknowledge at the outset that we are inseparably part of the web of life; our well-being dependent on the welfare of fellow creatures. We recognize the utmost value in creation – inherent value independent of creation’s usefulness for us. In this covenant, we understand that our creation is in crisis, in large part because of human activity. As a consequence, we promise to educate ourselves and others about the causes of and solutions to environmental degradation.
We commit to finding ways to respect and conserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations and for the future of the planet. Because of our covenant with God and the earth, we will seek divine guidance and strive to follow God’s will. We will pursue justice for the earth, protect vulnerable living things from exploitation, and seek remediation of the environmental damage humans have caused.
This Covenant Statement is Hereby ADOPTED this 19th day of May, 2020, by unanimous vote of the Church Council of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida.
RATIFIED this 24th day of January, 2021, by a Congregational vote of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida.
Open and Affirming Covenant
We of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida, by vote of our Church Council and ratification by our congregation became an Open and Affirming Congregation in 2001, as documented in our church bylaws. We now re-commit to God and one another our covenant with our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning sisters and brothers.
As we celebrate the diversity of the people of God, we commit to remain an Open and Affirming congregation that welcomes all our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters with love and support. We will be a place in which they can be fully themselves, where their full selves are embraced and where their God-given talents are utilized in the life and work of the Church.
We honor the vision of those in our congregation who, more than 20 years ago, founded COLLAGE (Coalition of Laity for Lesbian and Gay Equality) to provide support for LGBTQ+ persons in the congregation and community. In league with COLLAGE, we will continue to reach out to and welcome LGBTQ+ persons into our church family. We will serve as a refuge from hurtful words and harmful actions and work toward eliminating social injustices too often directed against them.
This covenant statement is hereby adopted this 16th day of March, 2021, by unanimous vote of our Church Council.
Living Our Vision: Inclusion and Diversity
We are an open and affirming congregation that welcomes and embraces persons of every gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, age and ability. We welcome you and invite you to join in the life and ministry of our church.
Living Our Vision: Caring
As a church, we believe that caring for and connecting with each other is vital to our faith and diverse community.
Living Our Vision: Preparing for Service to God
Every week, we end the service with Pastor Wes saying, “Our service of worship now ends and our service with the world begins.” We believe that Worship flows forth from the sanctuary in the hearts and hands of God’s people. Our church volunteers at over 50 local non-profit organizations. We commit to sharing financial resources with people locally and globally. We will continue the prayerful work of peace and justice in these days.
Grow with us ~ You are always welcome.