First Church this Week

Welcome to First Congregational UCC of Burlington

You are invited to worship in person at First Church at 10am on Sundays in our beautiful Sanctuary at 38 South Winooski Avenue in Burlington OR via the live-stream (or later recording) on the FirstChurchBTV YouTube Channel. Fellowship time follows worship at First Church.
What does the Rev. Elissa Johnk discuss in worship – here’s a sample:
You are invited to join in worship on Sunday December 10 at 10am at First Church!  Join in worship for an inspiring message and beautiful music.  See below for details about the Advent Season at First Church!
The Rev. Elissa Johnk, Lead Minister
The Second Sunday of Advent  Director of Music Amy Shortt is pleased to announce that the music program on December 10th will feature special musical guest, American tenor Joshua Collier.

Artistic Director of Opera Vermont and Barn Opera in Brandon, Collier is excited to sing during our 10am worship service this weekend.  A graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Bachelor in Music – Vocal Performance) and The New England Conservatory (Masters in Music – Vocal Performance), Joshua has performed throughout New England and beyond in many tenor roles and has been praised for his “thrilling high range” and “passionate commitment to character.”

Let’s give Joshua Collier a warm welcome to First Church on Sunday!

Worshiping remotely?   

  • Recordings of our past worship services are on YouTube.
  • On Sunday December 10 all are invited to worship at FirstChurchBTV.
    • Our beautiful sanctuary can be accessed from the front portico – or via the ramped entrance at the top of the parking lot.
    • The worship is also live streamed on YouTube (the recording is available any time after the service).
    • On Sunday morning you’ll find linked copies of the Order of Worship, Announcements, and Celebrations & Prayers, etc. using these “click buttons”:


Stewardship 2024 – Together we will… 

CLICK to read the Rev. Elissa Johnk’s Stewardship Letter

Service & Program Opportunities:
All First Church Choirs welcome new participants – singers, ringers and instrumentalists are welcome! 

For more information, contact Director of Music, Amy Shortt.

  • The Sanctuary Choir rehearsals are Thursdays at 7pm at First Church.
  • Our Bell Choir rehearsals are Wednesdays at 6:45pm at First Church.
  • Rehearsals for our Children and Youth Choirs follow worship on Sunday mornings.

Let’s make paper Advent Banners for the Sanctuary – all ages welcome – meet in the first floor Conference Room after worship on Sunday!

Please sign up to Share Christmas –
together we’ll provide practical, thoughtful gifts to many.
APPLICATIONS foe Share Christmas assistance  ar DUE by 10am on SUNDAY December 10

Sponsor a poinsettia for Advent and Christmas! Donations will be used to decorate the sanctuary with poinsettias and greens.

  • Donations we receive beyond the costs of the greens and poinsettias will be dedicated to the Christmas Mission Offering. Your donation can be made in honor of or in memory of someone special to you. All dedications will be in the Order of Worship on December 17.
  • Our Outreach Team invites your gifts to the Christmas Mission Offering, in support of our First Church Pastoral Care Fund and the VT Conference of the UCC Hope Fund.
    • The First Church Pastoral Care Fund provides our clergy, the Rev. Elissa Johnk the flexibility to respond to the needs of church and community members.
    • The Hope Fund provides grants for initiatives in Vermont UCC congregations that build relationships with people outside our churches; bring our best to the common good; and spread the Gospel. Learn more:
  • There are print forms at church – or – connect to the online form here:


Calling all Knitters & Crocheters9am on Sunday December 10th – at First Church.  Coffee & tea will be ready – bring you latest project or your desire to learn how to knit or crochet – no experience necessary.  Topics: prayer shawl ministry, knitting for local and global missions – join Betsy Freeman and friends – we’ll discuss the possibilities!


Please join us at City Hall Park in Burlington for a short (12:30 – 12:50) gathering of people of faith and conscience to show up in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness, addiction and lack of access to adequate care in our community.  Organized by the Burlington Interfaith Clergy Council, open to all people.

Many hands, hearts and voices will tell the story of Christmas – let’s gather in joy and song!
Let’s wrap gifts for the community and enjoy a festive fellowship gathering!

Let’s gather for a contemplative time in worship during the fourth week of Advent.

All affiliated with First Congregational Church – and actively enrolled in a post-secondary educational program – are invited to apply for a scholarship – open the online application HERE to learn more.



Women’s Book Group is meeting in person, Monday, October 23rd at 7pm to discuss The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives (2017, YA) by Dashka Slater; with Nancy McClellan facilitating.

To receive e-updates about this monthly gathering, contact Janice Clements: [email protected]CLICK HERE for the 2023-2024 book selections.



Following the Investments and Trusts (I&T) presentation on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing at the 2023 First Church Annual Meeting, interest was expressed in a seminar on the topic to be sponsored by our I&T Team this winter.

As we develop our seminar presentation, it would be helpful to have feedback from you.
Please CLICK HERE for our ESG Investing Poll. We appreciate your response by November 30th to help us tailor our presentation to your interests.


Learn about the First Church Elmwood Community Snack Project HERE


Our Outreach Team is pleased to announce that residents of Dismas House on Buell Street will be “growing and harvesting” vegetables in the First Church raised garden beds this summer.  What a great new spin on our long-term mission partnership with Dismas House!


Our FirstChurchBTV Outreach Team invites volunteers to donate meals for youth at Outright Vermont gatherings. Want to know more?  Please contact Outreach Team member Louise Brewster at [email protected] for details and potential dates.



Sunday Faith Formation Programs for Children &
Youth Program for Middle & High School Youth

  • Kidz Lab – our Sunday Church School for grades K through 6 – begins anew officially on Sunday September 17 during the 10am worship service.
  • Our Nursery/Toddler and PreSchool room open at 9:50 every Sunday morning.
  • REGISTER NOW: Parents/Guardians are asked to complete an online “Faith Formation Registration” for each child/youth participating in the 2023-2024 year.  Use this LINK for the online form.
  • Kids Lab/Church School Questions? Contact Director of Faith Formation, Hilah Clarke


Youth Programs – a Burlington UCC Collaboration:  The College Street Church & First Congregational Church UCC

YOUTH PROGRAMS: Our successful Youth Program collaboration with the College Street Church will continue for the 2023-2024 year.  For details make sure that you subscribe to our Church Newsletter.

  • REGISTER NOW: Parents/Guardians are asked to complete an online “Faith Formation Registration” for each child/youth participating in the 2023-2024 year.  Use this LINK for the online form.
  • YOUTH GROUP: Every Wednesday 6-8pm youth grades 6th-12th, joint with College Street Congregational Church, gather for fun, food, and faith related activities like “Messy Olympics” and “Penumbra Treasure Hunt.” In September, we will be meeting at College Street Church – in October at First Church.
  • Families with middle and high school youth are encouraged to contact Hilah Clarke, Director of Faith Formation to be added to the e-list for youth program updates.
  • Want to know more about our youth programs?  Contact Jason Vanderlann, Youth Leader – a staff member of both congregations.

In June 2023, nine middle and high school youth, our Lead Minister, the Rev. Elissa Johnk; the Rev. Ken White, Minister at College Street Church; and our shared (First Church & College Street) Youth Leader, Jason Vanderlaan, had a meaningful mission experience serving with HOME,Inc. in Orland, Maine. Our group served in a variety of ways including painting the home in these photos!  Our trip leaders and youth are thankful for your support and prayers.


All First Church Choirs welcome new participants – singers, ringers and instrumentalists are welcome!  For more information, contact Director of Music, Amy Shortt.

  • The Sanctuary Choir rehearsals resume – Thursdays at 7pm on September  7 at 7pm – at First Church.
  • Our Bell Choir rehearsals resume – Wednesdays at 6:45pm – on September 6 – at First Church.
  • Rehearsals for our Children and Youth Choirs will resume in September.


  • CLICK HERE to watch our Sanctuary Choir, soloist Kristen Elder-Connors & Music Director Amy Short offer: “I Believe”
  • CLICK HEREto watch our Sanctuary Choir & Music Director Amy Short offer the John Rutter’s: “Look at the World” during worship on October 16, 2022.
  • CLICK HERE to watch Emy Berger, flute and Music Director Amy Shortt, piano offer Katherine Kennicott Davis’s “Let All Things Now Living” as a postlude during worship on October 23, 2022




BOOK SELECTIONS for 2023-2024: The Women’s Book Group has made their reading selections for 2023-2024.

  • CLICK HERE to learn more about the book.
  • Most months, the meetings are on Zoom at 7pm on the 4th Monday – the September and October 2023 meetings are in person.
  • Please contact Janice Clements to be added to the e-list for location and/or Zoom link details.


Our PIPC – Partners In Pastoral Care – Team and affiliated volunteers known as: “Friends at First” have been busy in the ministry of providing meals for many years.  In collaboration with our clergy, PIPC coordinates meal deliveries within our church community in response to various times of need.  Interested in participating in an upcoming Meal Train? Contact PIPC Chair: Janice Clements at [email protected]


NAME TAGS help BUILD COMMUNITY We’ve rolled out new, magnetic name tags!  Please use this LINK  to request a name tag  – let us know your specific name request (nickname, pronouns, etc.). Thank you


ZOOMING: We are hosting regular and periodic gatherings using the platform “Zoom”.  You should be able to join a meeting simply by clicking on the link provided, and following the instructions.  You can also call in using the numbers listed below each event.  For more detailed instructions on how Zoom works, CLICK HERE.


CLICK HERE for First Church Phonic  – – offering you the opportunity to listen to:
– Sermons
– Spirit Seekers Interviews – including recent Spirit Seeker guests: Helen Head, Becky Levasseur, Richard Gagne, Hilah Clarke and Carlanne Herzog!  Listen online on HERE.


    • OUR THRIFT STORE – THE POSSIBILITY SHOP is OPEN: The Possibility Shop is open – 10am-3pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
    • DONATIONS: Please bring Possibility Shop donations to First Church any time between 10am and 3pm – Tuesday though Friday.  Clean clothing and household items in good  condition are always needed.
    • ESPECIALLY NEEDED NOW:  Fall and winter clothing in excellent condition for all ages.
    • VOLUNTEERS INVITED: On open days (Wed. & Fri., 10-3); on weekdays when the shop is closed (Tues. & Thurs.); &/or projects at home.
      • Greet customers in the midway (near Church Office), count those entering and exiting, keeping the number within the allotted safe amount… a great opportunity for readers and knitters!
      • Assist with the financial aspects of the shop, @two to three hours per month.
      • Handle and help sell older, valuable items that are donated to the shop.
      • Questions?  call Karan Dewar 802-922-3821 or Brenda Fraser 802-862-4747.  Thank you.
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