WE OFFER A WARM WELCOME TO YOU AND INVITE YOU TO PARTICIPATE FULLY in the ministry and mission of First Congregational UCC as you feel so led by the Spirit. We are delighted you are interested in learning more about First Congregational and are committed to finding meaningful ways to connect with you. Maybe you are new to our church, new to Sarasota, or new to church altogether. Whatever is stirring your curiosity, we would love to get to know you better.
You may start by joining us for worship in person every Sunday at 9 and 11 am. The 11am service is also livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube, and here on the website. We pray that you will experience music, a message, and meaning for your life. You may want to test the waters of our warm welcome in Bible Study, our Oasis Ministry, a book club, or coming to worship in-person. We are a church that welcomes questions, exploration, various expressions of faith, and continuing to grow to reflect God’s love. You won’t find perfect people here. You won’t find people who will test you or shame you. We long to be open to each other just as Jesus received each person with a warm embrace. We pray that we will continue to grow in love, grace, forgiveness, peace, and to be the Beloved Community that is so needed in these days.
Please know Pastor Wes is available to talk with you and help you connect in meaningful ways with our community of faith. During times such as these, we are well aware that many in our community are facing challenges. If you are in need of prayer or care, please let us know. Click here to contact Pastor Wes.
Please browse our site to find out what’s going on in and around the church.
5 Great Reasons to Check Out Our Church
We believe you’d be hard pressed to find a more diverse, welcoming and affirming church in Sarasota. See if you don’t agree by taking a look at these 5 reasons.
- Worship, Service and Community ~ These are the 3 cornerstone words describing our church. Worship is at the heart of who we are; service to others with and in the world happens every day; and we share God’s love with each other in fellowship. Read more.
- Open and Affirming ~ Welcoming and accepting without affirming is not enough. We are a church who celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. Read our Open and Affirming Covenant Statement by clicking here.
- Values ~ We believe in justice for all living beings as well as our earth. We have adopted clear statements outlining our strong commitment to social justice issues and the environment. Please see our vision page to learn more.
- Music ~ Music is extremely important to our church and we have a large presence in the Sarasota area. Minister of Music Greg Chestnut ensures that the musical offerings are relevant, varied and appeal to just about every taste. Read about the organs, the choirs, the visiting musicians and more by clicking here.
- The Oasis Center for Reflection and Renewal ~ The Oasis Center, founded in 2019 and shaped further by the events of 2020, offers opportunities for you through a variety of small groups, spiritual direction, and moments to sit silently in God’s presence. Watch a short video about the Oasis Center featuring Pastor Wes by clicking here.
Watch a Welcome Video From Pastor Wes
Worship, Service, Community
We see these words as interwoven and intertwined. Worship is what happens on Sunday mornings as well as when we gather in small groups for Bible Study or book conversations. Worship happens when we share God’s love at our community meal or through outreach with God’s love.
Service to our local community and world occurs through our central values. We helped found SURE (Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity) and continue to participate in this justice ministry. We host a monthly mobile food pantry truck for All Faith’s Food Bank, community meal, and participate in Family Promise Sarasota. We financially support local groups through our Christmas Love Offering and world-wide organizations through our Easter Love Offering.
Finally, we seek to share God’s love with each other. In 2020, we launched the Oasis Center for Reflection and Renewal. This sacred space which was our Little Pilgrim Preschool, now is a holy ground for all people to encounter God’s presence.
We invite you to find a home at First Congregational UCC and let your faith grow here. Please let us know if there is any way we can extend a warm welcome to you!
Lots of Ways to Connect
Morning Meditations ~~ Wake Up each morning with a Meditation from Pastor Wes on our Facebook page during the week. You can also view past Morning Meditations on Pastor Wes’ blog.
Seeking the Right Relationship with All living beings ~~ As a Creation Justice Church, we offer ongoing opportunities and events for education, participation, spiritual engagement and advocacy. Details for current activities can be found in the Newsletter, Mid-Week Message and on the Events Page. Examples of past options can be found at this...
Syster Hall, First Tuesday of the Month, October through May, 11:30am ~~ First UCC Women has been in existence since 1954. All women and men of the church are welcome and encouraged to join us on the first Tuesday of each month, October through May, in Syster Hall for fellowship, lunch and program. Programs are on varied topics. We select various...
Second Thursday of the Month at 12pm ~ Oasis Center and Zoom ~~ Ready Readers is a book discussion group that meets on the second Thursday of every month at noon in the Oasis Center. The books we read are chosen from a yearly list provided by the Florida UCC Women and selected by the chair of the organization’s Reading for Renewal. Our group...
Read the Bible in 52 Weeks with Pastor Wes
Weekly, times TBA ~~ Reading the Bible in the year is a monthly gathering to discuss reactions, questions, thoughts, and key "Aha" moments in the art of reading scripture. New folks are always welcome to join the conversation. For more information or questions, please contact Pastor Wes:
Second Thursdays @ 2pm ~~ Looking for new and creative ways to connect to God’s sacred presence in your life? Seeking to transform old or new aches in your spirit? Wanting to be refreshed and experience fun and joy? Then Artful Prayer could be for you! Who? Anyone looking for creative spiritual renewal When? Second Thursday of the month at 2...
Second and Fourth Tuesdays @ 11:00am - Zoom ~~ Second Sundays @ noon - Luncheon ~~ Collage (Coalition of Laity for Lesbian and Gay Equality) is an adult LGBTQ social group that welcomes supporters no matter their sexual orientation. The group seeks to be a safe and supportive place of friendship and extravagant welcome. This is a wonderful...
Oasis Center, 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month @ 11am ~~ We gather for a time of prayer INSIDE (due to the humidity) the Oasis Center. Join us as we drum together, letting the movement of our hands and hearts be a prayer to God. All levels of experience welcome for this opportunity. Greg will provide instruction and together we will make a...
Sacred Conversations on Race
Wednesdays at 3 pm on Zoom ~~ Each week we gather for a holy dialogue on issues related to the realities of racism in our country, community and church. We are blessed as a congregation with members (White, African-American, men, women, all sexual orientations) who are committed to the on-going work for justice. During our weekly gatherings, we...
Tuesdays @ 6:30pm - ZOOM ~~ Wednesdays @ 11am - Oasis Center and ZOOM ~~ There is always room at the Bible Study table for you. For more information and to join in the conversation, please contact Pastor Wes:
By Appointment ~~ Spiritual direction is an ancient and contemporary spiritual practice offered through the Oasis Center. It is a spiritual practice in which the individual and a spiritual director journey together in a spirit of prayerfulness enabling the individual to explore her/his relationship with God. This journey can help cultivate...
Open During Daylight Hours ~~ Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you seek on life’s journey, you are always welcome on the labyrinth. What is a Labyrinth? The labyrinth is an enclosed path having only one route that winds into the center. There are no dead ends or “wrong turns”. The path of the labyrinth can be seen as the journey of...