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Our Social Justice Commitments

First Church acts together to make God’s love and justice real at the local level and beyond. We know one church alone can only do so much to address large systemic issues, and that we make far more of a difference when we work together with other communities of faith and conscience. The causes and initiatives below are additional identified priorities of First Church that we support both with our time and our financial resources.

Racial Justice

First Church in Cambridge has cultivated a robust racial justice ministry in recent years from examining our own history as a congregation, to pilgrimages to civil rights sites in the south, to our journey of becoming an anti-racist church. We approach racial justice as not just a societal issue, but a spiritual issue, central to our Christian faith. To learn more about our ongoing and current work in this area visit our racial justice page.

Homelessness and Street Outreach

We take seriously Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbor as you love yourself. People who are experiencing homelessness in the Cambridge area are indeed our neighbors and are a part of First Church’s wider community. To learn more about our weekly community meal program, our financial support of feeding ministries, and our men’s shelter in our church basement visit our homeless ministries page.

Interfaith Partnerships

We believe that we can get more done together than we would alone and value our partnerships with our siblings in faith from other faith traditions. We are a member church of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and frequently participate in their justice actions in collaboration with our Jewish and Muslim neighbors. To learn more about our work in this area, please visit our interfaith partnerships page.

EARTH STEWARDSHIP

The mission of the Earth Stewardship Team is to inspire and enable First Church members, friends and affiliates to take faithful, robust, and effective action in response to the climate emergency unfolding in God’s creation. We seek to mitigate the social injustices of the severe impact of climate change on the poor in our local community, in Greater Boston and throughout the world.

The Earth Stewardship Team has been active. In recent years, First Church has been involved in:

  • Adopting a Sustainable Investment Policy.
  • Installing 86 solar panels on our roof to reduce saving both cost and energy
  • Taking advantage of rebates to secure 4 new, state of the art, high efficiency boilers.
  • Installing 124 LED light bulbs in our sanctuary, partnering with our Buildings & Grounds Committee and New Generation Energy.
  • Partnering with Rockville Market Farm to have local produce shares for parishioners and friends delivered weekly to the Parsonage.
  • Instituting composting of all coffee hour lunches and refreshments.
  • Taking part in an annual Lenten Carbon Fast by receiving and acting upon daily tips to reduce our individual energy usage substantially.
  • Lobbying public officials to take action that take care of God’s creation!

For more information, please contact:

Jim Brown

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LGBTQ and ONA

As a pioneering member of the UCC movement of Open and Affirming Churches, First Church welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to our community of faith, and affirms the full inclusion of all God’s people in the life and ministry of the church. Our congregation also strongly supports the civil right of all free and consenting adults to marry, and we gladly offer our sanctuary and our ministers to all who wish to be married here. We usually have a strong delegation of members who carry our First Church rainbow flag at Boston Pride parade.  Recently, we have advocated together for Transgender Rights in Massachusetts, hosted learning sessions so we can all understand how to make our community safer and more welcoming for people of every gender.

In 1991, this statement was adopted by First Church in its decision to become an Open and Affirming congregation:

First Church Statement of Openness and Affirmation

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JUST PEACE

Over the years, First Church has been a strong supporter of global outreach, a leader in pastoral ministry to victims of natural disasters, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and health care inequity.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s, individual members of First Church took public stands on Civil Rights and the Vietnam War, but there was little official action on the part of the church as a whole. In 1983, following the example of national and state UCC bodies, First Church voted in the Annual  Meeting to become a Just Peace Church. In 1990, after ten years of exercising a vigorous Just Peace ministry, and after two years of education and discussion, First Church adopted a new covenant to supplement the Covenant of 1872:

Covenant Testimony

We believe that our covenant with God and each other calls us:

To love God with all that we are, and our close and distant neighbors as ourselves;

To seek peace with justice and equity for all people;

To engage in non-violent resistance to evil;

To respect and preserve God’s earth;

To foster community across every barrier and division;

To attend to God’s unfolding and reconciling word;

To support each other in our frailties and strengths,

that we may embody that love which overcomes fear and death.

This we testify, confessing always our reliance on God’s grace in Christ,

and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This ministry of non-violence witness continues to this day. To learn more about specific moments in First Church’s Just Peace History, please click here.

UCC Denominational Outreach

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.  The UCC is a church of firsts, a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where “…they may all be one” (John 17:21).

The Church of Firsts
Since 1957, the United Church of Christ has been the church of firsts, weaving God’s message of hope and extravagant welcome with action for justice and peace. Together, we live out our faith in ways that effect change in our communities. The UCC’s many “firsts” mean that we have inherited a tradition of acting upon the demands of our faith. When we read in Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”—a demand is made upon us. And so we were the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry. We were in the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Civil Rights movement. Our response to the demands of our faith is woven into the history of our country.

A Church of Extravagant Welcome
Today, we continue to change lives throughout the world. We work alongside more than 200 mission partners. We labor ceaselessly to fight injustice, in the United States and abroad. We instill our vision into our youth and young adults, forging leaders who will imagine new dreams. And we sustain and develop church leaders, pastors, and our local churches to live their faith in exciting new ways.  We believe in a God that is still speaking, a God that is all-loving and inclusive.  We are a church that welcomes and accepts everyone as they are, where your mind is nourished as much as your soul.

We are a church where Jesus the healer meets Jesus the revolutionary, and where together, we grow a just and peaceful world.

Southern New England UCC
The Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ came into being on Jan. 1, 2020 with the coming together of the historic Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Conferences. (Read about their historic vote to join together here.) The Conference is one of 36 regional bodies of the United Church of Christ, a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action.  The Conference comprises 615 churches,  more than 1600 authorized ministers and nearly 120,000 members. The Conference has been founded under a united covenant to Live the Love and Justice of Jesus with the Vision statement available here as a PDF.  First Church participates in the conference in a variety ways, including by attending Annual Meetings and Super Saturdays hosted by the SNEUCC.

City Mission
First Church is a longstanding partner with City Mission Boston, the oldest multi-service agency in New England and the second oldest in the United States. For more than two centuries, City Mission has dedicated itself to the needs of the most vulnerable in Boston and founded many of the city’s lasting charitable institutions. Rooted in and supported largely by local Congregational churches like ours, it’s mission is to educate and empower individuals and communities to expose systemic barriers and act together to advance economic and racial equality for underserved families. First Church participates regularly in City Mission’s MLK Days of Service and also the City Mission Christmas Shop and Coat Drive. To learn more, please contact the chair of our Missions and Social Committee.

GIVING AND GRANTS

In addition to coordinating our wide-ranging justice initiatives, our Missions and Social Justice Committee also disperses a yearly budget of approximately $90,000 to various social justice ministries within and outside of the United Church of Christ. This is a full 10 percent tithe of our overall church income.

Over $40,000 goes to UCC-related organizations and efforts. These include Our Church’s Wider Mission, the Metropolitan Boston Association and the Southern New England Conference UCC Fellowship Dues, UCC education and attendance at UCC meetings and events. We also share our resources with various local non-profit organizations and ministries. We encourage individuals to participate in supporting these partnerships with both funds and volunteer involvement. The list of organizations we have supported in recent years includes:

  • Latin American Ministries

We use the following criteria to guide us in deciding what organizations and efforts to support:

  1. Related to the UCC: We collect at least two annual UCC offerings, One Great Hour of Sharing and Neighbors in Need. When possible we try to be a “5 for 5” church that supports the five national offerings of the UCC. We support our historic connection with City Mission Boston.
  2. Faith-based: When giving outside the UCC, we give preference to faith-based, and particularly interfaith, initiatives.
  3. Connection with members of First Church: We give preference to groups in which FCC members are involved as volunteers or staff.  This allows us to more easily build and maintain relationships with organizations as opposed to merely writing checks.
  4. Related to the work of current racial, environmental and social justice efforts of First Church.

MISSIONS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE TEAM

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  — Isaiah 1:17

The Missions and Social Justice Committee makes visible to the congregation the worldwide interconnectedness of the body of Christ. We believe that God calls us to love and care for our neighbors near and far, and to share our abundance with them. The Committee disperses a yearly budget to national and international bodies of the UCC and educates the congregation about the work of these bodies. We also share our resources with various local nonprofit organizations and ministries. We encourage individuals to participate in supporting these partnerships with both funds and volunteer involvement.