Welcoming All, Seeking Justice, Finding God

Meet Our Members

Welcome to First Church Burlington! We look forward to meeting you. As an introduction to this diverse and vital community of faith, we invite you to take a look at the Member Stories below.

Elise & Jamie Polli

Having moved to Vermont from Baltimore, Maryland, I was uneasy about the whole “church shopping” process since I had attended a church in Baltimore that I felt deeply connected to. Before I moved I asked my pastor if he had any recommendations in Vermont and his response was that there weren’t going to be as many choices but that he recommended First Church. He didn’t seem too optimistic about my prospects which concerned me.

I felt fairly alone my first few months here as I hadn’t made too many friends yet and have no family in the state. Bob and Donna Lee welcomed me with open arms and Bob even arranged for me to go to India with him. (although I couldn’t make the trip due to illness). Flash forward to now and I’m happily married to my husband, who I met at First Church and have a wonderful stepdaughter. I look forward to each Sunday, walking through the doors and seeing familiar, smiling faces. I enjoy learning new names each week and connecting the names with the faces. I continue to feel more and more at home at First Church and feel that it’s a place that truly welcomes everyone. First Church is my 2nd family.

Tom & Betty Taylor

We are new to the area, and a friend who is familiar with our religious background and interests encouraged us to try his Church, First Congregational, before settling in somewhere. We accepted his invitation and are pleased to report that after a few visits we decided that this is indeed a good place for us. Members of the congregation have been warm and welcoming, the music is excellent, and the preaching inspiring. But of primary importance to us are the values and theological orientation that seemed to inform and motivate the life of the Church. The preaching is not just eloquent, but knowledgeable, thoughtful, and open to new insights and ideas. There is a strong commitment to social justice and serving those most in need. The congregation is fairly heterogeneous and, for the most part, celebrates this diversity of its members. We have participated in many of the outreach activities, educational opportunities, and social events that are available at the Church, and always look forward to the worship services on Sunday morning. Many new friends are enriching our lives, and we feel we have found a true sense of Community at First Congregational. In just a little over a year this Church has become the central focus for us here in the Burlington area.


Carol Ann Wooster

First Church is home to me. It is the place where I connect with God and the community as well. Through the various volunteer opportunities such as Small Potatoes and the Christian Action Committee I have been able to share my gifts with others. I look forward to Sundays when I can return to that comfortable place where nobody judges you and the love surrounds me. For ten years now I have been witnessed to compassion and watched as others who joined the church find their inner strength through becoming a member. I have seen the ministers encourage the youth to become leaders for Christ and watched as they take flight into a Christian life knowing that because of First Church they too will see this place as home.



Caroline Crawford

When I explain to friends why I make the choice to take my family to First Church on Sundays, I say that it’s good for us to spend some time each week thinking about The Big Picture, surrounded by others who think that’s important too. When I first walked in the doors of First Church in 1997, I was a newly married, recently relocated New Yorker seeking community and connection in my adopted hometown of Burlington. I found what I was seeking in the music, the messages coming from the two wise and thought-provoking ministers, and the engaging, diverse and friendly members of the congregation. It became a place for me to grow my individual faith and explore my questions in an intellectual, open-minded and emotionally supportive environment. It became a place of celebration – my two children were baptized at First Church and are growing up active in the church school, service and youth activities—and it also became a place of solace and remarkable support during the difficult experience of my husband’s cancer diagnosis and his untimely passing. Time passes, life changes, and with that the church changes too, but it also remains a constant source of inspiration, stability and peace for me.



Carol Morse

I joined First Church in 1959, when I moved to Burlington, after I graduated from Nurses Training, and was working at the Lund Home. Dr Charles Jones was the Senior Minister, and Dr. George Lawrence was the Associate Minister. One Friday evening a month, Nancy Lawrence would cook a meal for the Friday Club, a group of young adults in the area who would meet for dinner and do something as a group for the evening.

I have served on several committees, including: Membership, Stewardship; Nominating; Trustees; Children’s Ministries; and Hospitality Committees.

The past two years I have donated Cabot Hosiery Socks to the Church, and we wrap them for the Community for Share Christmas. First Church is a well known in the community; with JUMP, the Possibility Shop and other ongoing activities.

Youth Sunday is always a fun time to see and hear the young people conduct the whole service; and hear the graduating Seniors share their plans for the future.



Rebecca MacDonald & Jerry Browne

On August 6, 2006 we were married in the Stone Room of First Church. This was a perfect spot for our small wedding and exemplified the intimacy that can be found even in this large church.

Prior to moving to Chittenden County, I (Rebecca) had always belonged to a small rural church and wanted to experience a larger church in a more “urban” setting.

I enjoy not only the wonderful music program of choirs and bells, but also the opportunity to raise my voice in the congregational singing! In addition, I volunteer at JUMP; it extends the public health work I did for many years and keeps me grounded in the ever increasing needs of individuals and families. JUMP’s extravagant welcome to the daily visitors provides a warm voice and place for those in need in our community.

This is a place of community with time to reflect on my life and the lives of those around me. I (Jerry) benefit from the spiritual aspect of the worship service, participating in Communion not because I must but because I may. The welcome to all is important; it comforts and sustains me.

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