Register for Peace Camp

Peace Camp is a true multi-generational faith exploration experience.
Peace Camp will kick off on Sunday June 23rd during 10 am worship and continue Monday thru Thursday, 5:30 to 8 pm.

Rev. Elissa Johnk will participate at the opening and closing of each evening’s Peace Camp program when all ages are gathered and lead Shalom Cabin (adult breakout sessions).
Our Faith Formation Team is planning creative and active programs for children and youth.

Registration for one evening gathering or all four Here.

Registration fee includes meals and t-shirts for all participants.
Payment online, check or cash in advance preferred.
Camp registration is $20/adult or $15/child
Maximum fee per household: $40.
Camperships (tuition assistance) available.

Contact Jennifer Jorgenson, [email protected] with questions, concerns or campership inquiries.

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Weather Concerns – Updates for Sunday Jan. 20

Weather & Travel Concerns – Updates for Sunday January 20
  • Your safety is our first concern.
  • The snow storm is challenging – it is extremely cold – and driving is reported to be hazardous this morning.
  • Many church programs are cancelled – the details are below.
  • There will be a 10 a.m. worship service
    •   David Neiweem says: “I am sorry to say – I could not clear my driveway and am unable to get to church.  Though I am cancelling Sanctuary Choir this morning, I am sure that those who gather will sing!”
  • Be aware that parking may be limited as the parking garages are used by Burlington residents during snow storms with parking bans.

What’s NOT happening on Sunday January 20?

  • The 8 a.m. worship service is cancelled.
  • Additional cancellations:
    • Sanctuary Choir
    • Children’s Choir
    • Youth Choir
    • Drum Choir
    • The Nursery/Toddler/PreSchool Room will not be staffed this morning.
    • The sale of “Part Two” Pick-A-Party Tickets for Winter and Spring Parties has been delayed until Sunday, January 27 – before and following the 10 a.m. worship service.
  • The 5 p.m. Sacred Spaces worship service is cancelled
What IS happening on Sunday January 20?
10 a.m. Worship:
  • Preacher: We are serving as a neutral pulpit this morning – our preacher is a candidate to serve as an associate minister with a Vermont UCC congregation (details below).  Members of our Worship Committee will assist in leading the worship service.
  • Rev. Carrie Bail will not be in this morning as she is with family mourning the death of her brother.

10:20 a.m.  – Any Middle School Youth and Grade K thru 5 children present will meet with Becky Johnston and Caroline Sheehan following the “Word of God for All Ages” – they will watch a cartoon video of Esther (Linked HERE for home viewing!) as a fun, informal introduction to the upcoming unit focused on the Book of Esther.

11 a.m. – Fellowship gathering with refreshments in the Chapel

     Our search for a settled minister candidate was aided by the Vermont UCC congregations that quietly served as “neutral pulpits” for candidates to preach with our Settled Minister Search Committee present in the congregation.
On Sunday, January 20th at 10 a.m. we will have the opportunity to quietly support a Vermont UCC congregation that is searching for a minister by serving as a place for their candidate to preach. Please join us for this worshipful opportunity to support a “sister” Vermont UCC congregation.  Thank you!

JANUARY 20 MLK EVENT POSTPONED: The 3 p.m. Martin Luther King Day Remembrance Event featuring Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has been postponed.  When the event is re-scheduled we will be in touch to update you and will have free tickets available.

Message from the New Alpha Missionary Baptist Church: Given the extreme weather advisory and plunging temperatures New Alpha is canceling its worship service for tomorrow January 20th.  Blessings, see you all next Sunday,
Deacon Jarvis

Thank you for your thoughtfulness and patience.
Stay warm and safe!
Lucy Samara, Communications Coordinator

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Rev. Elissa Johnk: Our new minister!

Rev. Elissa Johnk began her ministry as Senior Minister at First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington on April 9, 2019.
For the previous eight years, Rev. Johnk served as the Senior Pastor at The Old Meeting House, a thriving, multi-denominational church with strongest ties to the United Church of Christ. Before her ministry with The Old Meeting House, Elissa served with Rev. Martin Copenhaver as a Pastoral Resident at the Wellesley Congregational Church UCC, and held a ministerial internship at Old South Church UCC in Boston. She has also worked with Habitat for Humanity and as a Fulbright ambassador in South Korea.
Rev. Elissa Johnk graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where she received a presidential scholarship, the award for excellence in Liturgical Reading of Scripture, and was a Billings Preaching Prize finalist.
Elissa lives in Middlesex with her wife, Sarah, who is an attorney, serving as the State of Vermont Bar Counsel for disciplinary matters. Elissa and Sarah will continue to reside in Middlesex with their two dogs and six chickens.

Use this LINK to view a video Rev. Johnk’s January 13, 2019 candidate sermon: “Beloved”

Use this LINK to see all recent videos of Rev. Johnk’s sermons

Palm Sunday 2019 highlights:

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2018 Advent & Christmas Calendar Highlights

All are invited and welcome at First Congregational Church UCC/BTV!

LINK to printable 2018 Advent~Christmas~Epiphany Worship and Program Calendar


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Service Trip to Puerto Rico

     We have an incredible team of people getting ready to head to Puerto Rico for disaster recovery work on September 30th. In light of the recent finding about the number of victims from last year’s Hurricane Maria, we feel like it is more important than ever to show our support and stand in solidarity with our neighbors.
     Our team of volunteers will be going as part of UCC Disaster Recovery efforts currently being coordinated by a UCC clergy couple from Sharon, VT. We’ll be working to re-roof houses in a village about 45 min outside of San Juan, as well as spending time with a local hospital and church.
       Donations are welcome in support of our travelers!   To make a donation, please use the “Service Trip to Puerto Rico” fund in the “Mission” category on the online giving page of the First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington website (LINK) – or – mail or bring a check to the church at 38 South Winooski Avenue in Burlington, VT 05401 – or – give your check directly to one of our travelers – made payable to: First Congregational Church, Memo: Puerto Rico Service Trip.  Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS and the State of Vermont.
     Watch the Church E-Newsletter and E-Updates for further details and opportunities to support our travelers as they prepare for time in service helping to rebuild homes in Puerto Rico.      – Ava Kelly, Community Ministries Coordinator
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Get Involved @ First Church & in the Wider Community!


There are many ways to connect, put faith into action, work for social justice, and make a difference through service opportunities at First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington. Some opportunities are listed below; more are coming up this fall!

You can stay up to date by following us on Facebook &/or Twitter reading our E-Newsletter & E-Updates – use this LINK for information about how to subscribe.
New ideas for mission and social justice advocacy are most welcome. Please consider this an open invitation to step into service and community at First Church!

TAKING ACTION – This has been a year of marching for me – we marched with our high schoolers in DC last spring, in Burlington to “Bring Families Together” in June, and then stood in solidarity with our nurses in July. I’m working with Vermont Interfaith Action to keep track of upcoming opportunities and will do my best to keep you all informed of ways to take action. I invite you to join me on August 16 at the VIA – Vermont Interfaith Action – Statewide Convention in Randolph to learn more about what is happening at the intersection of faith and action around the state of Vermont.
Ava Kelly, Community Ministries Coordinator

The Joint Urban Ministry Project – JUMP: We have provided free space for JUMP’s Tuesday through Friday “drop in center” for 28 years! A core ministry of our faith community, JUMP provides thoughtful and practical resources for people in need – thousands of children and adults each year. First Church connects with needed, donated space, material items (toiletries, food), significant financial support through our Mission Budget and support of special events, and with much volunteer support. To learn more about volunteering, please contact Rebecca MacDonald. To learn more about this vital mission, visit JUMP’s website at

SMALL POTATOES SANDWICH CREW with Becky: Becky Winward coordinates our connection with Small Potatoes – our 30 year collaboration with the Burlington Friends Meeting to offer an every Saturday morning breakfast and bag lunch to all in need in the community. Becky is organizing a crew of sandwich makers for Fridays, August 24 – please send Becky an email and connect about the details.

Meals on Wheels

MEALS ON WHEELS with Al: Al Weldon coordinates our connection with Meals On Wheels making sure that we have pairs of volunteers for each of eight Meals On Wheels routes on the second Wednesday (morning) of each month. Substitute drivers and “runners” are needed – please be in touch with Al by email to learn more.


DISMAS HOUSE with Donal: Donal Dugan is newly coordinating our long-time connection with our Buell Street neighbors at Burlington’s Dismas House. Volunteers – on their own – or two or three working together – are needed to prepare, donate and share dinner with the staff and residents (10 to 12 adults) of Dismas House on the third Thursday of each month. This can be a great activity for a family to do together; for decades, our youth have volunteered to make and share dinner at Dismas House a few times a year. Please be in touch with Donal to learn more about volunteering on August 23 – or on a future third Thursday.

Lawn Mowing Helpers Needed – Call Steve & Bob: Last year we saved about $2,500 by mowing the church grounds ourselves. We have included these savings in our budget for 18-19. What we need now are folks who would be willing to volunteer, on a rotating basis, to mow! If you are willing to support the church in this way please contact: Steve Hyde at or Bob Wolf. We have a great riding mower! If you are new to riding mowers, orientation is available!

Coffee Hour

Sunday Morning Hospitality Helpers with Steve: Steve Hyde is working on a new initiative to build a team of volunteers who will help Sunday mornings run smoothly over the summer months. To learn more about this effort to engage folks in brewing the coffee (with our amazing new coffee machine), making the lemonade, and helping to serve and clean up for a Sunday 9 a.m. worship service in August or September – please be in touch with Steve to learn more.

SERVE in the POSS SHOP with our GREAT TEAM:  The Possibility Shop invites you to join our great crew of volunteers! Help is needed when the Poss Shop is open on Saturdays (once or twice a month from 10 to 1) and on Wednesdays and Fridays when we open from 10 to 3. For more information, stop in when we are open or contact Becky Winward. Thank you!


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Summer Sunday Worship thru Sept. 2 is at 9 am & 5 pm

First Congregational Church of Burlington, Vermont (United Church of Christ) welcomes you to join us in worship, fellowship, and service. We are a diverse congregation based in the heart of the city that lives our commitments, values, and beliefs: “Welcoming All, Seeking Justice, Finding God.” We invite you to learn more about our faith community and its members and explore how we might share this pilgrimage together. Read our Open and Affirming Declaration.

Sunday Worship Services September 9 through June:

– 8am in the Chapel
– 10am in the Sanctuary

– 5 pm Sacred Spaces: alternative, contemporary, participatory worship gathering for all ages.

Summer Sundays thru September 2 – there is one Sunday morning worship at 9 am.

Sunday, September 9 – is the date for our 11 a.m. “Homecoming Picnic!”


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Sacred Spaces ~ Alternative Worship ~ Sundays at 5 p.m.

in the “First Church UCC/BTV” Chapel
SUNDAYS at 5 p.m. 
Please accept and share this invitation to
a new model for worship,
a new way of creating sacred space in community:
     Sacred Spaces is exploring the First Congregational Church 2018-2019 theme:
The Road We Share, by starting a new journey using Alexander Shaia’s book: Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey For Radical Transformation as a guide for our worship gatherings. We’ll use the four gospels to discuss the four major questions along the journey of transformation:
  • How do we face change?
  • How do we move through suffering?
  • How do we receive joy?    &
  • How do we mature in service?
     These are the four questions reflected by Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke respectively. We’ll use the gospels as a lens to view the circumstances of our own lives and community, and as a framework for understanding our own opportunities for transformation. In addition to the discussion on gospel transformation, each service will feature silent prayer, meditation, and music.

A few key points to be aware of:

  • You don’t have to buy the book in order to participate in the gathering, but you will definitely get more out of the gathering if you’re reading along during the week as we go. We have copies available in the Church Office ($22). The book is also available for purchase online.
  • Spiritual transformation is in many ways a discipline (like the word discipleship!); those looking for more depth, growth, or just something new in your spiritual practice are encouraged to make a commitment to attend as often as possible so we can reap the benefits of consistency and have more opportunities to build our community.
  • The gatherings will continue to evolve as we figure out what works for us.
  •  All are invited to join us every Sunday at 5 p.m –  Community Ministries Coordinator, Ava Kelly sends out a weekly email update with themes, music, and materials for reflection. If you’d like to be on that list, email her at [email protected]

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PEACE CAMP for All Ages! July 23-27

“Night Lights” – the summer multi-generational  experience that we have been inviting you to – has announced its theme! July 23rd-27th “campers” of all ages (adults, youth, pre-K/nursery)  are invited to join us for “Peace Camp”. This 5-evening series will engage campers around the theme of peace, letting us explore our faith together through fellowship, worship, and age-appropriate interesting discussions and fun activities.

     We are so excited to be partnering with College Street UCC on this project. What a great opportunity for our two communities to join together in faith and friendship.

Here’s what you can expect at Peace Camp:
5:30 – 6pm: Picnic Supper
6:00 – 6:30: “Campfire” + Storytelling – each evening will start with the sharing of a Bible story that exemplifies the central theme of peace in Christianity. This is a multi-generational time.
6:30 – 7:30: Age-based Breakout Time (Adults, Elementary/Youth, Nursery/Pre-K): Adults will meet on their own to discuss the story in depth with leadership from Rev. Carrie Bail and Rev. Ken White.  The youth – in elementary grades and older – will be involved in creative, hands-on activities to explore the story. The youngest children will have fun, age appropriate activities.
7:30 – 7:45: Closing Vespers – a multi-generational song and prayer time.

Volunteers Needed: We need your help to make Peace Camp a success! We’re looking for people to help with meal prep, set-up/clean-up, storytelling, teaching, and activity leading. You can volunteer AND enjoy participating in the camp- no need to choose, or be there every day.  RSVP to learn more about volunteering with Peace Camp by emailing Ava Kelly ([email protected]) or on the Peace Camp REGISTRATION FORM

Camp registration fee is $10/individual or $20/household and includes meals and a camp T shirt. Sign up for Peace Camp using this REGISTRATION FORM. Thank you. Email Ava Kelly [email protected] with any questions!

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We’re Hiring!

Children’s and Family Ministries Coordinator & Youth/Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

Please click on the titles below to find links to job descriptions and application process

details for the following openings at First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington,


Children’s and Family Ministries Coordinator Description.March.2018

Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator.Job Description.3.2018

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