It is a joy for me to be in ministry with First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eau Claire. A remarkably high percentage of our membership participates in the worship, mission, education, hospitality, and pastoral ministries of our congregation. We have been richly blessed with people and with resources allowing us to be a real presence in people’s lives and a transforming force in the community.
As it happens, I have a particular love for classic church music and have sung in church choirs all my life. Some years ago I prayed that during the course of my ministry I might have the privilege of serving a congregation with an excellent music ministry. My prayers have been answered at First. The wonderful relationship we have with the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire campus, allows us to benefit greatly from the musical gifts of faculty and students which, coupled with the talent in our congregation allows us to enjoy high quality sacred music involving our church choir, youth choir, and a variety of instrumental ensembles. In addition we have commissioned choral works annually for the past eight years by outstanding American composters of sacred choral music including Lloyd Larson, Dale Grotenhuis, James Fritchel, David Cherwin, Kenneth Jennings, John Ferguson, Eric Barnum, and James Mulholland. What a joy!
As a preacher and teacher I find this congregation particularly exciting. People listen carefully, inquire fearlessly, read widely, pray fervently, and genuinely seek to discern how God is at work in their lives and what God would have them do as faithful disciples. These disciplines have led us to dramatically expand our local and global mission ministries over the past several years. Our newest endeavor is to be in partnership with the people of Okora, Uganda who are now returning to their village and rebuilding following a twenty year exile in an Internally Displaced Person’s Camp. Together we will work to reestablish housing, infrastructure, agriculture, education, and publie health services.
Finally, one of the most exciting aspects of my ministry here is to welcome more and more younger adults in our congregation, many households bringing young children with them. the desire these households bring for both spiritual enrichment and opportunities to engage with others in endeavors which bring meaning to their lives and God’s love to others is a source of inspiration for me giving me great hope for the future of the church. Truly our best days are before us.
Statement on the Nature of the United Church of Christ
Ron Buford, former coordinator of the United Church of Christ’s God is Still Speaking Campaign writes:
I am forever changed by the public reaction to the God is Still Speaking television ad that featured bouncers working on a velvet rope line outside a church. The bouncers admitted all the “right” people and turned away others who didn’t seem to fit the profile. The tagline said it all: “Jesus didn’t turn people away, and neither do we. The United Church of Christ.”
The hallmark of our denomination is its extravagant welcome of all people into the household of God insisting that the communion table is open and advocating justice for all. We try to remain attentive to God’s still speaking voice, and, as a consequence, embrace a variety of communities and ways of thinking. Trusting in God’s grace and following God’s guidance we seek to be a transforming presence in people’s individual lives and in the life of the world.
Learn more about us at www.ucc.org and check out a United Church of Christ congregation.