Life of Love at First Christian Church
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We begin worship on Sunday mornings at 10:45a.m. Feel free to come a little early to be greeted, and to enjoy some coffee or tea. If you're running a little late, feel free to come on it...you won't be the only one who's running behind on a crazy Sunday morning!
At FCC, we welcome all just as Christ has welcomed us! You'll be greeted by warm and inviting members of the congregation at the door, at the visitor's desk, and as you enter the sanctuary. They are here to help you with any questions you might have.
What we will NOT do is make you feel uncomfortable by asking you to wear a nametag, to stand during worship time, or call you out on the spot for not wearing the 'right' clothes or saying the 'wrong' things. There is no right or wrong in worship with us, only 'center'- center on God and worship with our neighbors.
If you want to know about our music--we sing hymns accompanied by the organ and the piano. We sing the old-timey hymns, and our hymnals are also full of new, more theologically inclusive hymns. We also have a praise hymnal, yet again, with accompaniment by organ and piano. We do not have big screens and guitars, but our people are extrememly gifted musicans who share their gifts often--we have a chimes choir, flute duets, steel drum players, and a choir who never ceases to surprise us with their renditions. You just never know what to expect with our music ministry!
If you want to know about our preaching and liturgy, again we are both traditional and contemporary. Our preacher wears a robe. He follows the lectionary. We light candles and sing doxology. We follow a basic order of worship. Yet the sermons are timely and engaging. The prayers never shy away from what is happening in the lives of people, both near and far, in the world today. And the 2,000 year old gospel is shared to a contemporary world who so desperatley needs to hear it!
"We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the World." It is our Good Confession, and our only requirement for baptism, membership, and full participation within the life of our church. Anything else, after that, is open to interpretation.
You might be thinking, "That sounds like a pretty loosy goosy belief statement, doesn't it?" Hear us out...
As part of our heritage, our tradition, and our contemporary identity as followers of Jesus in an extremely divisive world, we seek to live out the Gospel in Christ-like ways. So often "belief statements" are used to label a church as "left" or "right". Again, here there is no left or right, only center--we center on God and keep this Good Confession of Christ at the center of all we say and do. Let's face it, anything else we could say about God is interpretation.
In the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we wrestle with the topics and issues of the faith these days--we do not shy away from them! We lift up, as values central to our way of life, dialogue, discernment, respectful discourse, and commitment to each other--even when we disagree! Ever since our founding, we have been a people who think interpreting the scriptures is a matter of individual discernment, amist a community of the faithful. So on current issues that usually divide a congregation, we say it is not only a right, it is a responsibility, for the individual to decide for him/herself in the midst of prayer, study, and discourse among the wider church community.
What does that mean? It means you will find Democrats and Republicans; conservatives and liberals; rich and poor; gay and strait; for and against--you name it! all worshipping together around the Table of our Lord.
You will find a people who believe in the Oneness of God, and the Oneness of God's people dedicated to Christian Unity. Some of our founding slogans said it best--"Christian Unity is our Polar Star!" "In essentials--unity; in non-essentials--liberty; in all things--charity."
We are not a people who seek to divide and conquer. We are a people who have joined a movement for wholeness, in a broken and fragmented world.
What started as a movement on the American frontier, began to move and grow and take on a life of its own faster and larger than any of our founders could have imagined! We are known today as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For a video of our Denominational beginnings, and the movement to whom we are today, click here.
Our local church is fully autonomous in the way it governs and conducts its corporate life. We own our own buildings, call and dismiss our own clergy, and we use our gifts and resources how we see best to use them. Yet we are not alone in this ministry! We are also a part of a Regional church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in WV, who shares with us in our worship and devotional life. With the Regional Church, we gather often with Disciples from around West Virginia and part of Western Maryland for worship, retreats, and congregational support. We are also part of a larger, General Church, who serves to support the local church in its reach through missions, resources, and public advocacy.
The church is really larger than we ever see, touching lives in Wheeling and around the world, because of the full ministry Christ has called us to as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)!
In looking at the church building from National Road, our lots are behind the building. There is signage to point you towards the sanctuary parking. There is also signage to direct you to our 4 spaces, near the door, reserved for visitors. If you are a visitor, feel free to park there!
If the lot is full, which happens on occassion, then Altenheim Resource Center next door has graciously given us permission to use their lot. A walkway joins our two lots.
We love having children in worship with us, and take very seriously Jesus' example of letting the little children come. All children (big and small!) make noises and get the wiggles during worship. We don't view it as a distraction; we view it as a blessing.
As you enter the sanctuary, you'll find a station to your right with stuffed animals, books, and other things to help keep the interest of our youngest worshippers.
During the worship time, there is always a "Children's Moment." This is a time for our young ones to come up front, and be engaged with the scripture for the day by one of our great children's worship leaders.
After the Children's Moment, children are invited downstairs to our Children's Worship Center for a special time of worship devoted to young children's learning and worship styles. There is a nursery provided, during that time, as well. Your children will be loved and cared for until after the service, at which time you can go downstairs to receive them.
Trust that your children are welcome, loved, and valued as a part of the One Family of God!
"Our cup with an X on it" is our official logo of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The "cup" is really a chalice, symbolizing the cup Christ used at the Last Supper. The "X" is actually a cross--its the cross of the disciples Andrew, reminding us of our call to evangelize. Click here for more on the Chalice Logo.
Yes. It goes by many names: Holy Communion, The Lord's Supper, The Table of the Lord, The Great Thanksgiving, Holy Eucharist, but yes, it is very important to us.
We like to say the Table of the Lord is at the center of our worship and the center of our lives. It is the place that is open to all--regardless of what denomination you belong to, regardless of your background, regardless of your stances on issues that divide. For the Table of Christ is the one place where we, as Disciples, can live into the Unity of the Body of Christ and be church in a unique and powerful way. It is here where the Risen Lord meets us, greets us, feeds us, and sends us out better than when we came. It is here we are forgiven and sent. It is here where we are gathered--from around Wheeling and around the world! It is Christ's Table, and he has invited all to join him. It is a forestaste of a heavenly banquet. It is the metaphor for how we live and serve and have our being. It is a part of who we are, for we are One in Christ!
So yes, it's important to us. It's important to Christ. You are welcome at it. We do not welcome you to it--Christ welcomes you to it.
And we celebrate this welcoming at Christ's Table every time we gather. So don't be surpised to see you came on "Communion Sunday", because every Sunday is Communion Sunday. As often as we gather, we hear the words of Christ, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, do so in remembrance of me."
This is a good question that deserves some time and prayer before coming to an answer. If you've visited us for a while, and would like to make this your church home--the place to plant roots and live and serve among a community you can call family--then we would love to receive you!
Membership is not a requirement for worship--it is a significant step in your decision to follow Christ. As a commitment to your Discipleship of Christ, you commit to loving and serving with and among these people whom God has given. To help making this decision, our pastor and/or elders are always willing to have that important conversation.
Once you decide you want to join, there is an invitation to do so during morning worship. During the Hymn of Invitation (directly after the sermon), everyone is invited to come forward to make the Good Confession and/or make this their church home. You would come forward while we sing. Once the hymn is over, the pastor or elder would ask you, "Remembering your Baptism, do you still believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and do you proclaim him Lord and Savior of the World?" We call that The Good Confession. If you respond with, "I do," the you will be extended the right hand of Christian love and fellowship, and welcomed warmly into membership and fully into the life of the congregation and the wider Church.
If you haven't been baptized, yet, or if you're unsure about whether your baptism is valid...well then, that's another question!
Let's start with the latter, first.
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the hope of your calling, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6) If you've been baptized once, regardless of what tradition or denomination or what age, you are baptized--God didn't do it wrong the first time, and we don't need to do what God has already done in you! I
If you've been baptized, you are already a part of the One Church of Jesus Christ on earth. To make this congregation your church home, just come forward during the Hymn of Invitation.
If you haven't been baptized, then here is a good suggestion...start praying about that. Those prayers will lead you and guide you to a community that God is calling you to. Then, have a conversation about baptism with that pastor.
This pastor would tell you, "Great! Let's talk more!" Remember, baptism is not the culmination of the perfect life...baptism is the beginning of a new one! No need to have all the answer. No need to claim a perfect life (there is no such thing, except for Jesus'!). Only a need to claim what God has already claimed--"I love this one, and call him/her my own." In baptism God does a mysteriously wonderful thing, and the one being baptized enters into covenant with God, dedicating a life to love, service, and discipleship of Jesus.