New Here?
Whatever your story, we're glad you're here.

We offer a warm welcome to you and invite you to participate in the ministry and mission of First Congregational UCC as you feel so led by the Spirit.

Shadow

A  Warm  Welcome!

 

We are delighted you are interested in learning more about First Congregational.  We 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 on-line every Sunday at 10:55 am.  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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Spirit-filled worship picturing the Holy Bible New Revised Standard Version

Lots of Ways to Connect

 

Worship

Sundays @ 9:00am and 10:55am

Please refer to the most current worship information.  We would love you to join us, whether in person or via livestream!

A spirit-filled scene at the altar - the silver cross and organ pipes with candles in the background
Bible Study

Bible Study

Tuesdays @ 6:30pm and Wednesdays @ 11am Bible Study Continues... For more information and to join in the conversation, please contact Pastor Wes. We are journeying through the Gospel of John listening and learning from his telling of Jesus' life.  There is always room...

Bible Study

Tuesdays @ 6:30pm and Wednesdays @ 11am

Bible Study Continues…

For more information and to join in the conversation, please contact Pastor Wes.

We are journeying through the Gospel of John listening and learning from his telling of Jesus’ life.  There is always room at the Bible Study table for you.

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 raise awareness around issues, build trusting relationships, and commit to loving action.  There is always space at the table for you to join us for this sacred conversation.

Contact Pastor Wes for more information and for the Zoom link.

Sacred Conversations on Race

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...

morning coffee on the beach with two palm trees

Creation Justice

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 link: creation justice past activities.

Information about the Creation Justice Designation is available at this link: UCC Creation Justice Church in Six Steps.

Collage

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 chance for support, fellowship, and advocacy information.  All are welcome.  Currently meeting on Zoom and Sunday Luncheon meetings, please see the calendar or  contact the church office for more information.

LGBTQ, pride, rainbow flag as a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer pride and LGBTQ social movements
Artful Prayer

Artful Prayer

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...

Artful Prayer

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 PM

What to bring?  Colored pencils, crayons, or markers, paper and pen/pencil are the usual supplies.

How?  Sign up through the church office or contact Pastor Wes.

Click here for a video of the most recent session.

Thursday Drumming

Thursdays @ 11am, Oasis Center

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 joyful noise to God.  If you have questions, please contact Pastor Wes.

Thursday Drumming

Thursday Drumming

Thursdays @ 11am, Oasis Center 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...

First UCC Women
First UCC Women Meeting in Syster Hall

First UCC Women

Syster Hall, First Tuesday of the month October through May, 11:30am

1st 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 non profits to come and share with us what they are about. This year we had Project 180, Family Promise and coming in April a speaker on the Sarasota Bay Estuary. Pastor Wes led off the year giving an overview of his recently published book – 52 Week Devotional for Husbands. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers were scheduled in November, but when they were unable to attend, we had a wonderful discussion on the book “Tomatoland” that many church members had read. In February seven Artists and Musician who are church members performed and/or exhibited their works plus told their story of how they came to do what they do. An annual favorite is the December meeting where we fill and wrap shoeboxes for seniors. This year we had over 60 boxes that were taken to Meals on Wheels for distribution. We will conclude our year in May with a “Memory Roadshow”. Each attendee is asked to bring an item that is special to them and to share with us by telling their story about it.

We hope you can join us and make some new friends.

Morning Meditations

Wake Up each morning with a Meditation from Pastor Wes on Facebook during the week.  

You can also view past Morning Meditations on Pastor Wes’ blog: click here!!

morning coffee on the beach with two palm trees
Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction

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...

Spiritual Direction

By Appointment

Spiritual direction is an ancient and contemporary spiritual practice in which an 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 one’s ability to discern the Sacred in everyday life as well as in the critical moments of life.  This one-on-one spiritual practice is offered through the Oasis Center.  Click “read more” below to contact Rev. Craig Collemer for further information.

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The Labyrinth

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 life, with many twists and turns. The labyrinth is a sacred oasis designed to encourage moving meditation, reflection, releasing, receiving, listening, insight, healing, stress reduction, and creative thought.

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The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

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...

Art of Grief Workshop Series

Art of Grief Workshop Series

Are you finding yourself still grieving the loss of a loved one or friends/family months or even years after the loss? The Art of Grief workshop series is designed to help you discover your own ways to honor or remember those losses, find ways of healing, and explore...

Art of Grief Workshop Series

Mondays 4pm – 6pm starting on Valentine’s Day

Are you finding yourself still grieving the loss of a loved one or friends/family months or even years after the loss? The Art of Grief workshop series is designed to help you discover your own ways to honor or remember those losses, find ways of healing, and explore the “new normal” of your life without them.

Who: Anyone who has gotten through that first several months of intense grief, but is still searching for ways to honor and heal from loss of a loved one. Class size is limited to 10 people.

What: A 6 session workshop using art, music, journaling, movement to help you honor and heal from your loss.

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