We have been called to engage with real people in their real lives just like Jesus: we want to share the joys as well as the sorrow – your hopes and your disappointments – because we believe that ALL of life is holy. Currently, we are trying to make these words flesh in the following ways:
- A community of compassion: We are committed to being a help in hard times so if you are going into the hospital, please let the church office know and the pastor and other friends will make sure you aren’t alone. If you have an emergency, our pastor can be with you for prayer and support, too. There are also a number of members of the congregation who regularly visit folk in the hospital or their homes. So, please be in touch so that we can be with you.
- A presence in the world: Our faith is active and we work in Pittsfield with Habitat for Humanity building homes for our neighbors in need as well as the Christian Center making certain no one goes hungry. We are connected with the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations to support interfaith dialogue and expanding compassion in our town. We are also one of the founding congregations in the faith-based justice organizing project in the Berkshires: Berkshire Organizing Project. We have partnered with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team to help clean up the Housatonic River and support the work of the wide LGBTQ community. (For more information, please go to our COMMUNITY page for links.)
- A part of the United Church of Christ: As an active and supportive member of the United Church of Christ, we have a long history of serving the common good through acts of justice and compassion. Throughout the year we raise resources for emergency disaster relief as well as national and international mission projects. (For more information go to: www.ucc.org)
- A team in action: First Church is an autonomous congregation – we freely participate in the United Church of Christ – but we raise all our own funds so that we can maintain our independence. We also make certain that friends, members and guests have a chance to share their gifts with one another through team ministries that include: worship, finance, Christian education, visitation and grounds and maintenance. We have a Prayer Shawl ministry as well as a gathering of folk singers and guitarists. And for those who want the support of prayer in a more confidential setting, we have a Prayer Circle as well.
SERVING ONE ANOTHER IS HOW THE WORLD SAVES THE CHURCH…
Mission is an important expression of our faith at First Church. Currently this takes three forms: mission with the wider church (United Church of Christ), local acts of compassion in the Pittsfield area and a new emphasis on social justice and respect for the earth. Each year there are four special offerings for the wider church include Our Church’s Wider Mission(relief and foreign mission activities), Neighbors in Need (advocacy and mission within the USA), One Great Hour of Sharing (ecumenical relief ministries throughout the world) and the Strengthen the Church offering (for starting and renewing local congregations.)
Our action/reflection model also has a seasonal emphasis:
- Spring: During the season of resurrection and renewal, our activities are grounded in living into biblical justice. Walter Breuggemann noted Old Testament scholar, calls biblical justice a quest for dignity by “discovering what has been taken from another and helping to return it.” Recently we have been exploring how to be a part of the healing of Afghanistan through support for the Central Asia Institute and the work of Greg Mortenson as well as the Berkshire Organizing Project.
- Summer: More than ever before, people of all walks of life understand that caring for the earth involves changing our lives and habits. In cooperation with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, we participate in 2-3 clean-up actions on the Housatonic River each summer. And we are going to sponsor a portion of the river to keep clean, too.
- Fall: In addition to raising funds for our Neighbors in Need offering, the fall months move us into study and action concerning hunger. We raise funds for the Christian Center’s on-going ministry of feeding the hungry, host a Thanksgiving Eve concert to generate emergency heating for families in need in the Berkshires and cooperate with Bread for the World in lobbying our representatives.
- Winter: The biblical understanding of peace – our winter emphasis – comes from the Hebrew word: shalom. More than merely the absence of conflict, shalom involves dignity, hope, compassion and restoring right relations between people and our action/reflection work is guided by this insight. We offer encouragement and support during the winter to those witnessing for peace on Public Square each Thursday night at 5 pm.