Who We Are

We are a diverse people on a journey together.  We come from a variety of spiritual traditions; mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Unitarian, Buddhist, and, in some cases, from none at all. We are scientists, farmers, social workers, contractors, teachers, activists, students, musicians, parents, grandparents.  Some of us are new to the community, and some have generations-long roots in the congregation. What we have in common is that we travel a spiritual path rooted in the compassionate and profound teachings of the historical person of Jesus, and in the universal consciousness of love, that, in our tradition, we call Christ. We attend services for many reasons, but most of all to find spiritual grounding, for the chance to witness the grace in others and to be reminded of our common humanity. We recognize that all of us arrive here with our own stories and spiritual experiences. There is no requirement to assent to a unified belief statement in order to belong. Instead, we affiliate ourselves with the 8 points of Progressive Christianity to identify and guide our practice. We commit ourselves to walk in the way of Jesus, addressing injustice with compassion and nonviolent action. We take the Bible seriously, but not literally, approaching scripture through both a historical and metaphorical lens. To learn more about why we worship, click here.  To view videos overviewing our focus on migrant and racial justice, click here. To garner a fuller picture of us, check out this week’s newsletter on the link above.

Our Recent History

The church became the fourth Open and Affirming congregation in the state of Vermont in 1998. It advocated for Vermont’s Civil Unions law and became the only Christian church to endorse Vermont’s Freedom to Marry Act, which it did by unanimous vote at a congregational meeting. In the early 2000s the church held a successful capital campaign to make the building truly Open to All, funding the construction of the Janet Frey Harte Wing including an elevator and accessible bathroom. The Upper Valley Peace and Justice Group was founded in the church shortly after September 11, 2001, and a Nonviolence Group began meeting in 2010. The Floyd Dexter Memorial Community Service Fund was added to the existing Alice Francisco Fund to provide financial assistance to struggling people and the Deacons launched a Calling and Caring program, using these funds to provide support to people in need in the congregation and surrounding communities. The Floyd Dexter Fund has grown from giving a few hundred dollars a year to over twenty thousand a year. One hundred per cent of the funds collected at the Christmas Eve service are donated to the Floyd Dexter Memorial Fund.

The congregation adopted a new covenant in 2000 and has developed long range plans every five years or so, including most recently a strategic plan that clearly articulated the church’s identity, mission and vision for the first time. The church launched the LEAF (Loving Earth As Faith) Fund in 2012 to support its environmental work. It is in the process of energy conservation measures to reduce its heating needs by as much as 30% and reduce its remaining heat energy carbon emissions by approximately 75%. In a very recent large-scale project, the old oil-burning heating system was replaced with a wood-pellet stove in the summer/fall of 2013.

Our Mission Statement

The First Congregational Church in Thetford, Vermont, United Church of Christ, is a progressive, Open and Affirming congregation, Open to All. We are a diverse people on a journey together following the way of Jesus Christ. We find unity in the shared quest for truth rather than in one common creed.

Our church provides a sanctuary for spiritual nurture and growth through services of word, music and silence, and through education, discussion and mutual support. We feel called to promote Christ’s way of nonviolence, creating a loving, just society for all. We care especially for our youth, for the struggling people of our world and community, and for the health of God’s creation.

We expect there to be a cost to our faithful discipleship, a cost of our time, talent and substance, and of our selfless love, humble service and personal risk. This is a church of courage and of comfort. This is a church of passion and of humor. This is a church of Christ and of solidarity with people of all faiths who are striving to create a world of peace and justice, mercy and love.