We believe every member of the church is a minister (and every person, for that matter, is an expression and vehicle of God’s love). Our members carry out countless ministries, some known to us and others not. But we also share and support many ministries as a church.
Each Sunday, we remind ourselves that love is a verb and that we are called to be the church—for one another, our local community, and the world.
In worship we say together the word of our mission statement and then we spend the rest of the week living out God’s love and the church’s vision through numerous ministries. They include:
*Not Bread Alone soup kitchen—This three-times a week meal program grew out of a soup kitchen and food coop founded by the church in the 1980s. Now the church provides kitchen and dining room space and equipment, other logistical and financial support, and regular volunteers.
*Refuge for the homeless and a meeting place for other groups—We view our building as one of our greatest resources for ministry. Parts of the building are in use seven days a week, and our doors are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Persons without homes are invited to find refuge. We also work with the Town of Amherst and local service providers to address the causes of homelessness and provide remedy.
Many 12-step and other community groups meet weekly in various spaces; and we’re also home to another church, Primera Iglesia Hispana de Amherst. In addition, the building that formerly housed our pastors and their families is now known as Jessie’s House, Hampshire County’s only shelter for homeless families.
*Gifts of Peace, Justice, and Compassion—We believe strongly in sharing what we have. We give away tens of thousands of dollars each year to organizations and projects that serve the poor and work for peace and justice—locally, across the country and around the world.
*Accessibility—In 2014, our 275th Anniversary year, we undertook a capital campaign to raise funds to make our building more accessible to people of all abilities. In the fall of 2017, we were delighted to unveil a bright new lobby featuring a lift to carry people between the two levels of our building, as well as two large, handicap-accessible bathrooms on the upper floor. The parking lot and sidewalks were redesigned to be welcoming to all, the electrical service was upgraded, a fire-safety systems was added, and lighting in the sanctuary was improved.
*Programs for Children, Youth and Families—These include Sunday School and nursery, youth group, and service opportunities, including home restoration in Appalachia and community support in Nicaragua.
*Caring Companions—This group of church members works with the pastor to provide spiritual and logistical support to church members who are sick, injured, home-bound, or otherwise in need of prayer, food, or rides.
*Anti-Racism Ministry—A team of church members and friends challenges and leads the church in working for an end to racism in all its forms. Their ministry includes worship services and learning opportunities for church members, as well as participation in Coming Together, a local anti-racism project initiated by our church (now guided by a town-wide steering committee), and the Black Lives Matter movement.
*Open and Affirming Ministry—A team of church members and friends challenges and leads the church to continue to expand and deepen its extravagant welcome to LGBTQ folks. Team members are also involved in the broader ONA movement within the UCC, working with other congregations going through the ONA process.
*The First Church Choir and Music on Main—Minister of Music Dick Matteson directs our 35-member choir, a community unto itself, which ministers to the entire church and the community with worship music and special concerts. The Music on Main Concert Series schedules concerts by outside groups throughout the year.
*Blessings to Go—Pastor Vicki carries out this ministry in public places, at the Northampton Pride Festival in May and on the sidewalks of Amherst throughout the year. Other church members join in at the Celebrate Amherst Block Party in September.
For a full listing of our church ministry teams please see Ministry Teams.