United Church of Christ, First Congregational of Norwich, New York is a Christian congregation founded in 1814. We are committed to the serious study of ancient and modern Christian learning, and to beautiful music and the spiritual richness of prayer. We are a congregation of spiritual seekers, loving tradition, embracing modernity, animated by the Christ and the great commission, in the hope of doing the work of God in the world.
We are a caring, welcoming community in which everyone can learn, celebrate, and grow together. We recognize that different people will feel at home with us by walking through different doors of church life. Some will do it through prayer or Bible study, others through social action, communal outreach, justice issues, social activities, music— the list is extensive.
If you are wondering who God is, consider this: everyone has a religion and everyone has at least one God. That’s because religion, in its least common denominator, is a life-philosophy that governs perspective and behavior.
Even Atheism is a religion. If you say there is no God, that becomes a god. Your personal religious stand, therefore, defines your perspective as to your place in the Universe and why you exist. It is, in other words, your purpose. Your God is who or what you worship. Your God is the greatest desire of your heart, your source of pleasure, energy, and peace, who or what you believe to be and then sometimes (to be realistic and state the fact, without belief or thought) make central. The God (or, indeed, the gods) in your life determine where you direct your thoughts, imagination, time and money.
Christianity talks about God who unites all humankind through Jesus, the Christ in the Spirit of love, bringing us into communion with the Source of Life. We celebrate the Resurrection of the Christ as something that happened and is happening.
Each one of us receives the gift of that new life and the ability to accept it and live by it. It is a gift, which radically alters our attitude toward everything in this world, including death. The church has been established in this world in order to celebrate New Life in Christ. The church has no purpose, no ‘religious life’ separate from the world. The church is in ‘the world.’
Christianity is, you see, unquestionably communal. The Christian perspective sees the individual with others; there is no person that is ever alone. Everything stands in relationship to the other.
Christianity refuses to separate truths into categories and then study them as self-contained units. No human person can exist as an isolated individual. Where there is love, there is self-discovery and union. Where there is selfishness and pride, there is deceit and division.
The Church is a living organism of which the Christ is a member. Christ came to redeem the whole person: body, soul, and spirit, and will, likewise, redeem all of creation as well. It is for this reason that the Christian does not erect an impenetrable wall between what is sacred (“spirit”) and what is profane (“matter”). God has created both, sustains both and restores both.
Although firmly supported by scholarship, Christian scholarship is not a sole basis of faith. We Christians can state positions with intellectual clarity. But the Christian faith also transcends the intellectual. Hence, statements about faith supercede mere logic by their nature. They are theo-logical— positions which, while still embracing and treasuring the intellectual, strive to see and to seek the logic of God.
God will always transcend every one of the finite doctrinal formulations offered by humanity. For this reason, we subscribe to Creeds, invite people to proclaim what they believe, and to do so with joy. But we do not proscribe Creeds, tell people what they have to believe. Why? No Creed, no set of doctrines, no matter how comprehensive, can ever fully explain God the Trinity— God the Creator, Jesus, the Christ and the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.
It is not only or merely the intellect that brings revelation but union with the God of the Trinity and the Church of the Christ. One of the things we in the United Church of Christ say about this is never place a period where God has put a comma. In other words, doctrine can be a “symbol” that points to this One Who is the Way but, in and of itself, doctrine is not the way. Doctrine may be a vessel but it is never the Water the vessel contains. And God is still speaking to us and through us.
So, our mission is to meet the diverse spiritual, religious, educational, and social needs of our members and the greater community within the framework of Christianity. We strive to build unity with our fellow Christians of all persuasions and affiliations and the community at large, in a spirit of love and respect. We see the Church— our Church— as a spiritual home to Christians of all backgrounds. All of which is to say the United Church of Christ, First Congregational of Norwich tries to reach a diverse group of Christians who reflect many different backgrounds, personal circumstances, and interests as we prayerfully live lives devoted to one another and the God of the Trinity.