WHO WE ARE

 An Open & Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ


We are a group of dedicated individuals passionate about serving God.

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world. The UCC is a church of firsts, a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where "…they may all be one" (John 17:21).

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

Come as you are.


We want you to come just as you are. When you walk through our doors, you may see people in suits and ties, but you will also see people in jeans and t-shirts. We want to make sure that when you visit, you are comfortable and feel loved and welcomed. If you ever need anything, always feel free to connect with us. We love to hear from our new visitors. 

OUR BELIEFS

We are united through Christ.


We believe in The Creator, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

The unity we seek as the Body of Christ requires neither an uncritical acceptance of any point of view nor a rigid formulation of doctrine.

 

We believe God is the creator of the universe and giver of all that is good. God is the savior—known boldly and intimately in Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection—who shows us how to live and love. God is the Spirit who enables us to make a difference in our world and in the lives of others. We believe that grace is the love, honesty, and compassion that God gives and shows us in Jesus. It’s how Jesus saves us, heals us, sets us free, and increases our capacity for love. We believe that we need each other.

 

Whether single, married/partnered, divorced or widowed, it’s a lot easier to follow God with friends than it is by ourselves. We believe in the priesthood of all believers: All members are called to minister to others and to participate as equals in the common worship of God.

OPEN & AFFIRMING

All are welcome.


Our Open & Affirming Covenant, Revised and Reaffirmed December 16, 2018:

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

-John 13:34

 

We confess that as individuals and as a congregation we have harmed LGBTQ+ people. We have inherited and perpetuated a culture that has done violence to those outside sexual and gender norms. We have chosen comfort over curiosity and surrendered God’s expectation of justice. As a church, we started on this journey two decades ago and we desire ongoing reconciliation.

 

We value and welcome a diverse congregation. Believing, as Genesis teaches, that each of us is created in God’s image, we welcome all of God’s creation into the ministries and sacraments of this church as we seek to grow together in a safe and nurturing community of faith.

We reaffirm our original open and affirming commitment of 2005 by:

·        Challenging theologies, beliefs, and doctrines that oppress or exclude anyone of any sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,

·        Encouraging all people to participate fully in our community of faith,

·        Designing church systems and structures as safe places that include every person in the full life of the church, and

·        Boldly promoting justice and inclusion in the community.

We walk with each other on our personal journeys, encouraging authentic lives and celebrating the diversity and beauty of God’s creation. We continue to learn and deepen relationships, so we can fully participate in God’s care and concern for our LGBTQ+ members, friends, and families, and better promote inclusive practices. We will annually affirm and extend our covenant as we journey together and follow faithfully where the Spirit leads us.

LEADERSHIP


Volunteer church members lead our congregation on the church Council and Ministry Teams. The congregation elects members to these positions at our annual meeting in January.

2024 Council Members

Executive Team

Linda Morice - Moderator

Mark Barlow - Vice Moderator

Mary Lou Mellish - Treasurer

Katherine Buchowski - Clerk

Members-at-Large

Suzy Besnia

Bruce Bryan

Chrissy Paterson

Randy Wang

Ministry Team Chairs

Valerie Jackson - Worship & Education

Ward Klein - Stewardship & Administration

Adrienne Piston - Mission & Outreach

Jon Tiede - Membership & Fellowship

2024 Ministry Teams

Membership & Fellowship

Jon Tiede, Chair

Marty Mallett

Ardith Pierce

Melissa Wurst

Mission & Outreach

Adrienne Piston, Chair

Nellie Andrews

Jim Kemp

Bob O'Neil

Dan Utz

Stewardship & Administration

Ward Klein, Chair

Susan Davis-McCarter

Mary Lou Mellish

David Piston

Grant Wiens

Worship & Education

Valerie Jackson, Chair

Linda Aiken 

Ken Blumer

Sheila Merrell

First Congregational Church Staff Team

Rev. Mia White

Senior Pastor

Mia G. White was born in Warsaw, Virginia and she was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She spent her adulthood residing in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Mia completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from Cedar Crest College, one-year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and certificate of Spiritual Direction from Moravian Theological Seminary, located in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.

 

In 2012, Mia received her certificate of ordination from the Penn Northeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. She served two congregations while in the Penn Northeast Conference. She is the mother of three adult children (Broc, Ebonee, and Sable) and two beautiful grandchildren (Wynter and Rae). Prior to Mia’s call into the ministry, she spent over twenty years working for the Department of Corrections. 

 

In January 2021, Rev. Mia was called to the position of Senior Minister at First Congregational Church of St. Louis, UCC.

Hannah Rice

Minister of Administration

and Membership

Hannah first served First Congregational Church as the Interim Minister of Faith Development for Children and Youth from 2012-2015, and then returned in August 2015 as the Minister of Administration and Membership.

 

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri with a BA in Communication and a minor in Religious Studies. She then spent three years in the Master of Divinity program at Eden Theological Seminary, graduating in 2012. She grew up in the United Methodist Church, but became a member of FCC in 2015. As a lover of music, Hannah has played in the FCC handbell choir and occasionally sings for worship. She has also sung with a local women's choir, Bel Canto, since its founding in 2010. Hannah loves her two kiddos, crafting, reading, binging TV shows, and hanging out with her pet rats. 

Tim Clark

Minister of Music

Tim Clark joined the FCC staff team in January 2023. He cames from Church of The Master UCC in Florissant, where he served as Director of Music from August 2011-December 2022. Prior to that, he was a member of the choir and substitute organist at FCC under the direction of Ron Hall. Tim also serves as Organist for Holy Infant RC Church in Ballwin, MO and St. Martin of Tours in Lemay, MO. Tim is a very active musician in the St. Louis Theatre scene. He was Music Director for SPOLIGHT!, a Youth Musical Theatre Summer camp from 2017-2022, and can be seen frequenting the orchestra pits for many productions in the area. Tim has served as the Institutional Organ Specialist for Rodgers Organs and Steinway Pianos since 2020. Tim is also a teacher with the music/theatre departments at Crestview Middle and Nerinx HS. Tim currently serves as a board member for the United Church of Christ Musicians Association. Tim lives with his partner, Aiden, and cat, BoBeau, in Maryland Heights.

Joyce Haynes McCowan

Minister of Faith Formation

Joyce Haynes McCowan joined our staff team in March 2024. She has been married for twenty-seven years to Rev. Elston McCowan who pastored Star of Grace Missionary Baptist Church for sixteen years. Together they have nine beautiful children and fifteen grandchildren with one on the way. She is currently a member of First Congregational UCC Webster Groves and formerly a member of Star of Grace MBC, where she served as the Youth Pastor for ten years and the Choir Director for thirty years. She is a MDIV Graduate of Eden Theological Seminary and a BS undergraduate of the University of Missouri St. Louis concentrating in Sociology and a Minor in Theater. The hobbies Joyce enjoys most include a love for art, dressmaking, gardening, and music of all genres.

Mehran Moslehikhah

Maintenance

LaBar Verner

Custodian

Bert Merrell

Sunday Sexton

OUR HERITAGE

We are United Church of Christ.


The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. First Congregational Church of St. Louis was founded as an abolitionist church in 1852 under the leadership of Dr. Truman Marcellus Post. In 1969 the congregation voted to officially affiliate with the United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC is a church of many "firsts." We took early stands against slavery and were the first denomination to ordain an African American, a woman, and an openly gay minister. The UCC has taken bold stances for civil rights and marriage equality. Today, the UCC extends an extravagant welcome to all of God's people.


SELF-GOVERNANCE

We are congregational.


In the United Church of Christ, each congregation is self-governing and self-supporting.

Members of each congregation covenant with one another and with God. These congregations, in turn, exist in covenantal relationships with one another to form the UCC. First Congregational Church is governed by a Council of 12-15 church members, which includes the Executive Team (moderator, vice-moderator, treasurer, and clerk), the chairs of each of our Ministry Teams, and members-at-large. Our Ministry Teams are Membership & Fellowship, Mission & Outreach, Stewardship & Administration, and Worship & Education. The members of our Council and Ministry Teams are voted on at our Annual Meeting by congregation members.   

OUR MISSION


To Know God's Word,

Do God's Work,

Live God's Love


OUR VISION


To be a beacon of faith, compassion, and justice for St. Louis, the wider community, and beyond.

OUR CORE VALUES


Community & Fellowship

We are a Christian community where all can and do participate. Grounded in God’s love, we nurture one another.

Open Minds & Hearts

We are all God's children, and we accept and affirm our differences. God loves each of us unconditionally, and we reflect that love in our openness to others.

Shared Worship

Creative, participatory, and expressive worship helps us encounter God and binds us together into the Body of Christ. The Spirit is at work through music, the Word, and celebration of our life together.

A Thinking Faith

Young and old, we are all growing in our Christian formation. Inquiry and dialogue draw us to God and open us to the change needed in ourselves and the world.

Mission & Service

We are called to do God's work of justice and peace. We seek to serve others as Jesus served, and to be transformed by the encounter.