At nearly 400 years “young,” trying to encapsulate “us” is no small endeavor! We are a community diverse in age and experience, race and culture, social network and social location. In all of our diversity, we are united through certain core values, beliefs, and practices. Our Vision Statement, adopted through congregational discernment in 2016, has grounded us in what really matters and has helped shape the direction of our ministry within our church and in our wider community. We are a congregation living into our calling of radical welcome, abundant grace, and striving for justice and the needs of our neighbor. Our history is no dusty tome, but informs and enlivens our present ministry. We are bound together through our Living and Historic Covenants, with their shared promises and shared vision for our life together. And while we cherish the unique ways in which we practice our faith as a congregation, we maintain strong ties with our denomination, the United Church of Christ.
Grounded in God,
our hope and our healing
Growing in community,
with Jesus our center
Acting in love,
made bold by the Spirit.
—from our Vision Statement (full 2016 statement)
At First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, United Church of Christ…
We believe in God who has created each one of us in love, endowing us with freedom, dignity, and sacred worth.
We gather around Jesus Christ, the center of our faith, learning from his teaching and example, and seeking to follow in his way of radical, boundary-crossing love for all.
We draw life from the presence of the Holy Spirit moving freely in our midst, calling us to begin again, to grow, to forgive, and to become new.
We listen for the voice of God in sacred scripture, in art and music, in the natural world, and in our work together, as we wonder and wrestle and discern God’s call to us.
Together, we are community. At First Church, each person has a name and a voice and gifts to share. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, there’s a place for you in our midst. [link to a new page with a statement on full inclusion?] We honor you. We honor your story.
Together we serve. We believe friendship with Jesus draws us out of ourselves and sends us out to the world in love, to heal, to bear witness, and to act boldly for justice.
First Church History
For over 375 years, First Church has welcomed searchers and seekers, pilgrims and pioneers to share on the journey of faith that is guided by God’s grace, every step of the way. Though we celebrate a rich and robust history and tradition, we are called to live out our faith in the present, to make what is ancient fresh, and to make our ideals for the future relevant in the here and now.
Our Living and Historic Covenants
What is a covenant? A covenant is a promise to the congregation and to God to journey together on this journey of faith.
We do not become a member of the church by assent to a set of beliefs. Instead, we become members simply by making a free choice to become part of a local community of Christ. We express that decision by making a promise—that is, by “covenanting” with God and the congregation that we will be a pilgrim in the company of pilgrims on the road of grace. We declare that we will remain open to the Spirit’s leading and committed to each other by ties of faith, hope and love. Membership in the UCC is about the desire to be together, not a demand to believe correctly.
Because we do not require assent to creeds, it is often said that the UCC is a “non-creedal” church. And so we are! But that does not mean that we are a “creed-less” church that does not stand for anything in particular. The content of our faith is important to us. We are engaged in a life-long effort to study, pray, wrestle with and live into the teachings of Christianity, and to hand on its wisdom, ancient and new, to the next generation.
But it is important to note that when we recite any creed or faith statement together, we do so “doxologically”—that is, in a spirit of praise and thanks for all God has done for us in Christ, not in order to establish an “orthodoxy,” or correct belief. Another way of saying this is that for us, creeds are “testimonies” not “tests.”
The United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ formed in 1957 as a creative blending of four distinct Christian traditions, each with its own history and gifts. Taking as our motto Jesus’ prayer for church unity, “That they may all be one,” the UCC has affirmed from its earliest days that Christians can live in communion even when we differ. The UCC remains one of the most diverse Christian bodies in the United States.
The United Church of Christ stands in a rich theological tradition that draws on three primary sources: the Bible, the ancient creeds, and the insights of the Protestant Reformation.
As a denomination, our roots are in the “covenantal’ tradition—meaning we have no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine, practice, or form of worship on our members. Christ alone is Head of the church. For us, faithfulness is found in the dynamic interplay between freedom of conscience and respect for the apostolic faith. We like to say that the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors are testimonies, not tests of the faith. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome to covenant with us.
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, is a member of the Metropolitan Boston Association of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
For more information:
- Learn about the United Church of Christ
- Read more about belief in the United Church of Christ.
- Learn about the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
- Learn about Historical Creeds.
- Understand more about the basic teachings of the Protestant Reformation.