First Congregational Church of San Jose is a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC). The denomination began in 1957 when the Congregational Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church united. The UCC motto is taken from Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 17:21, “That they may all be one.” First Congregational belongs to the Santa Clara Association of the Northern California/Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. Individual UCC congregations are not bound by hierarchal control; each local church is autonomous. However, we are a people of covenant. One of our denomination’s historical phrases is “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Church of Firsts
The UCC considers itself a “Church of Firsts.” The UCC and its predecessor congregations were the first to ordain
- an African American pastor (1785)
- a woman pastor (1853), and
- an openly gay pastor (1972)
among many other firsts (see A Church of Firsts for more). Most recently, the UCC filed a lawsuit agains North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, arguing that the state’s marriage laws violate the First Amendment rights of clergy and the principle of “free exercise of religion.”
UCC Statement of Faith
We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify:
- God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image, and sets before us the ways of life and death.
- God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
- God judges all humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.
- In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator.
- God bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
- God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
- God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace,the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto God. Amen. —adapted by Robert V. Moss