At First Church, we honor the yearning for deeper relationships with one another and with God through many spiritual formation approaches, ranging from traditional Bible Study groups to Sunday morning sessions. Led by our ministers and other teachers in our community, a variety of small groups meet our needs in different ways at different seasons. Through study, small group participation, and retreats; through worship, art, and spiritual practice; through multigenerational inquiry and creative outlets, we are exploring what it means to be God’s people in a modern world.
Opportunities for Exploring Your Faith
Our Adult Formation offerings on Sunday mornings are deep and varied. We offer staff- and lay-led presentations and discussions both before and after worship, either via Zoom or a hybrid gathering. Topics range from theological explorations of key themes in our tradition to book study to conversations on current events or the life of the church. All are welcome to participate, even if you are new to Christianity or First Church.
In the 2023-2024 program year, our Sunday schedule includeS Christian formation offerings are 9:30 a.m. and/or 12:30 p.m. Check the Sunday bulletin, First Glance (our e-newsletter), or our events calendar for a listing of upcoming formation programs.
If you are looking for a way to dip your toes into the life of our church beyond worship, Faith & Life Groups are for you! Led by First Church members, Faith & Life Groups help us make meaningful connections with each other through shared interests, exploring spiritual practices, delving into a challenging social issue, or attending to significant life stages (parenting, aging, job transitions, etc.). Group participation requires a short-term commitment (a single session to several weeks, depending on the group) with the option to extend the experience if the group desires. We regularly hear stories from people who join our Faith & Life Groups that the experience is delightful and sometimes transformational experience.
We host three sessions of Faith & Life groups each year: Fall, Lent, and Spring. Announcements of groups offerings and registration can be found in the Latest News section of our website, as well as in Sunday worship bulletins and First Glance, our weekly e-newsletter.
Brent Coffin leads as we share in weekly reflection about biblical texts, bringing these ancient and often confounding readings into conversation with our own stories and lives. Meetings begin on Tuesday morning, September 26, from 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. A time of informal check-in starts promptly at 7:15, followed by framing remarks from Brent, with space for intimate small group listening and sharing to follow.
A small group gathers together on Zoom every Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. for Bible Study. A rotating schedule of First Church members lead these informal gatherings to further engage with the sacred text of our faith and to gain insight into how it might speak to us anew in our lives. The goal of the discussion is to deepen our understanding of the Bible to further enrich our faith and to form new connections and friendships along the way. We will not study merely as an academic discipline, but with the desire to know God more intimately. Steady attendance or Bible study experience aren’t required; come when you want, as you are.
Join us for a weekly gathering to explore a contemplative approach to our spiritual life. Together we learn about, and practice, various approaches to accessing our inner world, with an eye to “doing the inner work of outer work” — seeing the relationship between reflective contemplation and action in the world. Calls are led by First Church friend Duncan Holloman, a psychotherapist, with an extensive background in both Buddhist and Christian contemplative practice.
Join Ginny Harlan, Martha Cook, and Dan Smith for a monthly support group where we offer each other companionship and spiritual resources as we grow into our elderhood. In this special season of our lives, let’s explore together some of those Big Questions as we let God’s presence and this community hold us. We can become elders together as we seek dignity, courage, grace, hope, peace, and wisdom in the ending phase of our lives. We will use Joan Chittister’s book The Gift of Years as a starting point to conversation and reflection, along with a few practical resources for a end-of-life planning. We welcome you – grey hair, wrinkles, and all!
The first meeting of 2023-24 is on Tuesday, September 19, 3:00 – 4:15 p.m., and on third Tuesdays of each month.
Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, we choose a theme to accompany us through the season, exploring it during our formation programs and worship services. One recent Lenten theme was “Making a Way Out of No Way.” In our gatherings, sermons, and prayers, we spoke honestly about our weariness and gloom in response to events in the news. We read James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, and reflected on the mysterious power of God at work even amid the terrors of history. Advent and Lent are seasons in our life together that provide opportunities for deeper connection with each other and with God through these adult study programs.