For many, the sacred passages of birth, marriage and death are moments when God’s presence is especially needed and felt. If you are looking for help with a service or pastoral support and guidance, we can help. If you are not a part of our First Church community and would like to inquire about using our spaces for a wedding, memorial service or some other family celebration, please click here.
Interested in being baptized or in having your child baptized? Baptisms are joyous occasions for individuals, families and for the whole church. It is the “initiation rite” of the Church, and a visible symbol of God’s grace outpouring in love over the one being baptized. At baptisms, we remember Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, when the Spirit descended upon him like a dove and said “You are my beloved, with whom I am well-pleased!”
Baptism in a Worshiping Community
At First Church, baptism is celebrated in the midst of the worshiping community, with the support and commitment of the people of God and on behalf of the Church Universal, with whom the one baptized is joined together. Promises are exchanged that underscore the intention to be followers of Jesus’ way of compassion, mercy and justice. We gladly welcome persons of any age who seek to be baptized, or in the case of young children, those whose parents are ready to make a profession of faith on their behalf. Baptizing infants not only expresses the radical inclusion of Jesus, who turned no one away: It also commits the whole congregation to raise our children in the ways of Jesus. Because of this, “private” family baptisms are discouraged, although exceptional circumstances might permit them occasionally. Or, you may consider a blessing instead.
Blessing of Children
Sometimes family members have different religious backgrounds, theological convictions, or other circumstances that make it difficult for them to celebrate a baptism with integrity. In these cases, families often wish instead to ”bless” or “dedicate” a child in the church. Although not to be confused with baptism, dedications and blessings are done at First Church as a way to celebrate God’s love and goodness to us in our children, to give thanks for a birth or adoption, and to welcome a child into the community of faith.
At First Church, we believe that God blesses ALL couples who seek to join together in faithful covenant. Gay or straight, interracial, interfaith, or all of the above, we will be happy to work with First Church members and their families. Read more about our Open and Affirming stance here. If you are planning a wedding, congratulations! First Church in Cambridge offers sanctuary and reception hall reservation to all members and their families, as well as pastoral counseling, at no charge. You can learn about obtaining a marriage license in the City of Cambridge, here.
Funerals and Memorial Services
First Church offers many resources for times of loss, including pastoral care, grief counseling, and funeral and memorial services.
A funeral service takes place soon after a death has occurred and often involves a casket. It is generally religious in nature, with prayers, scripture readings, words of reflection and music that lift up the presence and power of God in matters of life and death, and particularly in the life of the deceased. It is a service not only of mourning but also of hope in the promises of God. It may be followed by a cemetery service of committal.
A memorial service may be held weeks or even months following a death, depending on circumstances. While prayers and scripture may be included, the emphasis in a memorial service is more on the life of the deceased and his or her relationships. It is a chance for the community to give fuller expression to their gratitude and love, and to say a final farewell.
To inquire about pastoral services related to loss, or to check on availability of space for a remembrance service, please call or email the church office. We’ll be glad to connect you with a pastor.