First Church Congregants responded:

A Church:

Leads People In Worship
Time to reflect and slow down
Grounding weekly rituals
Church exists to provide company. I think this when I've spend some of the weekend on my own and then find myself in the community of the congregation on Sunday morning during the service.
The Tenebrae service when the church is dark and we snuff candle flames
Tenebrae service.
Also many small, regular events—the singing, silent prayer, etc, that remind us that our whole purpose is to create beloved community.
The music, especially singing together is my inspiration to do better and be more connected through the church
When we sing a capella and sometimes when we pray silently
Every time the choir sings
We mark the time, going through the year together, the seasons.
The Christmas pageant when adults and children play parts together
Metoo service: face difficult things together, a moment of simultaneous vulnerability and strength.

Officiates Rites of Passage:
_____’s memorial service: I was proud to be a part of a community that would help a “stranger.”
____’s memorial service
Memorial services, for my father, family of church members, and friends in the church.
Church member weddings, especially our own.

Provides Spiritual, Emotional, and Practical Support
Opening up the church post-9/11
Organizing to help ___ while they were dying.
Unasked, unexpected moments of kindness—questions offers of help and emotional support. All this reminds me that we need each other—no one gets through this life alone.
When we support members in crisis
I found the support I needed to pull myself together after a personal crisis and be stronger and wiser than I was before.
When ___ died and someone asked “are you eating? Are you sleeping?” The “Caring Community” support for ____ who was hospitalized. Learning to accept care.

Facilitates spiritual, religious, and ethical development
Participating in _____small group

Acts for Justice and Liberation, and Compassion
Helping with the food shopping in preparation for Common Cathedral
Preparing food for Common Cathedral with other members of First Church
when I am participating in the preparation and participation in Common Cathedral, the food project, the movies, books, and the prayer
Congregation committing to support sanctuary for undocumented people
Hosting the young Jewish congregation
Mother’s Day Walk for Peace

Practices Beloved Community
Getting to know people in the community
Serenity, comfort, and like-minded people
We get to be silly together and witnessed in that.
Fostered witnessing each other as we are
Little pressure to do/be other than we are.
Comfort of community of caring individuals; place to explore new worlds; safe
All these celebrate community and/or dwell on those "thin" places where this life feels close to whatever is next.
Simple: I cried, and felt safe to feel whatever it was that made me cry. No need to explain, if anyone even noticed. I guess - although I hesitate to explain mysteries - that it's about having time dedicated not to doing, and not to avoiding doing, but to being present.
A place to retreat, rest, become grounded and ready to face the world with a greater sense of connection to what is important and how I'm not alone, that I'm one of many people I care about and who care about me. What was happening? It could be any Sunday, especially post 11/9/16!
Yard sale: we always manage to make it happen / Being in the kitchen during the fair
Knowing I belong—we don’t need permission
Church is people. I want to be with this group of people. We go because we want to; we always walk out with something new. Challenged. Keep from growing old.

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Rev. Elizabeth asked the congregation:


Think of a time when you thought “wow, THIS is the reason we have a church,” or “this is what makes church different than other community groups," or "THIS is the reason our church exists?”


What was happening? How did you feel?