The First Congregational Church of Evanston has voted to affiliate with the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination.

“While our church has a history of independence, we have come to recognize the value of being part of a group that offers collaboration and resources,” said Laima Day, moderator (lay leader) of First Congregational Church.

“The UCC has no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members, so we can maintain our own identity while still sharing information on everything from Christian education to mission work with a larger body.  It’s a win-win for the church, the UCC and the community.”

The affiliation vote was taken at First Congregational’s annual meeting in January.

The UCC began as a union of several traditions of Christianity in 1957. It has more than 5,200 congregations and more than one million members, mainly in the United States.

The First Congregational Church of Evanston, which is located at Hinman Avenue and Grove Street, was founded in 1869 by settlers from New England, where Congregationalism traces its roots to the Pilgrims.

The church has a long history of social activism and mission work, including involvement in the women’s suffrage movement and social settlements.  In the early twentieth century, Sunday guest speakers included Jane Addams, Carl Sandburg and Amos Alonzo Stagg.

The church also has long been recognized for its music program and its Skinner pipe organ, which was dedicated along with the current sanctuary building in 1927.

Today, the First Congregational Church of Evanston remains true to its history, seeking to address the challenges of faith in a modern world. An open and affirming church, it offers traditional worship with sermons, music, prayers and more.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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