“Where ever you are on life’s journey,
you are welcome here.”
Welcome to the First Congregational Church, Williamstown Massachusetts. We are a lively, progressive congregation, meeting in the iconic white clapboard Meetinghouse in the center of town. Our church’s architecture may be conservative, but our thinking is innovative. Our church has been active from our earliest days to the present speaking out for the oppressed in our society. It was predominately members of our church who started the local ABC House, the only member of the national “A Better Chance” organization to send kids to a public high school. We have been active in supporting LGBT rights, and have been glad to host gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies, and weddings since 2004, when the Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses.
The Congregation traces its history back to 1765. The formation of the church was a central event in early Williamstown and First Church and its various Meetinghouses have played a role in community life ever since. (There is a video about the history here). We’ve tried to explain a bit about First Church and the Meetinghouse on these web pages. Please take a look around and see if we have answered your questions or piqued your interest. Please feel free to contact the Church Office if you have any more questions. Like most everything else about the Church, these webpages are a cooperative effort by volunteers in the Congregation, with support from the church staff. If you have suggestions for improvements, please pass them along via the Church Office. Thanks!
First Church is an independent entity, but belongs to the wider confederation of churches known as the United Church of Christ, an intentionally diverse denomination with a history of social activism. You can find more information about the UCC here, including some brief videos.
Why be involved.
Involvement with the church community can take many forms, from deep religious commitment to a desire to participate in community service with friendly folks. Some of each is often in the mix, but the proportions vary widely. You might be interested in what some of your neighbors, those who are already members or friends of the church, have to say about why I’m here. You might also want to take a look at the page about Partners @ theMeetinghouse, some of the other community organizations that are housed in, or use space in, the lovely Meetinghouse.
“Second Hour” talks and discussions
Debate and discussion are a central feature of the Congregational tradition. In addition to Worship services, First Church runs a lively speaker series, 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse, open to the entire community whether affiliated with the church or not. We are particularly fortunate to be able to draw on local academic specialists and community activists to share their special expertise with us to provide a series with a depth and vibrancy beyond what one might expect from a small church alone. Please consider joining us for these events!
Our Founder’s Covenant:
We, the members of the First Congregational Church in Williamstown, Massachusetts, strive to be a body of Christ in which all people may worship God and relate to one another with a secure feeling that they are welcome and appreciated. We seek to create a safe, accessible haven where a person’s faith may be nurtured and developed in the sharing of diverse cultural and spiritual experiences of God. We will try, with the help of God, to lead a life of Christian love and service to God, humanity, and all creation. In offering ourselves to this sacred mission, we attempt to show the way of Christ so that the community and the world in which we live may learn “to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)
Declaration of Conscience
At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equality, and compassion, to truth and the core values of American society, of universal human rights.
Our Christian tradition is clear. Deuteronomy 10:19 commands, “You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” The Holy Family was forced to flee the violence of their homeland (Matthew 2). Our Savior was a migrant. We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger. We stand under that judgement today.
In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes,
Our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Our commitment to justice and compassion in human relations.
Our opposition to any actions to undermine or suppress the right of every citizen to vote or to turn back advances in access to health care and reproductive rights,
Our opposition to any actions to weaken or eliminate initiatives to address the threat of climate change—actions that would threaten not only our country but the entire planet—and affirm our unyielding commitment to protect the interdependent web of all existence.
Our opposition to any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, or discriminate against refugees or immigrants on the basis of race, color, creed, gender or country of origin.
As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.
We pledge our voices and our church’s active support to resettle refugees in Massachusetts.
We call on our elected leaders, including the President,, to rescind the Executive Orders to limit refugee resettlement and to build walls on our borders. We have and will continue to welcome and support refugees and immigrants who have contributed so much to the fabric of our communities.
And, we encourage all churches and peoples of every faith to join us in this Declaration and to reach out in love and hospitality to the refugees and immigrants living near them. We encourage all Americans to show compassion and support to those who have fled hardship and violence.
We welcome and invite all to join us in this commitment for justice.
The time is now.
Sources: We want to acknowledge the sources for the wording of this Declaration: The language in this Declaration derives from the wording in similar documents from the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Massachusetts Council of Churches, with editing and additions from the Outreach Team at the First Congregational Church of Williamstown. We are grateful for their leadership.