Learning to live and walk the way of Jesus - the way of justice, peace and a deeply inclusive Love - is an essential part of our spiritual growth. At the First Congregational Church of Evanston UCC, regardless of how old or young we may be, we are all disciples and students of Jesus’ example of Love. Everyone is encouraged to take part in Christian Education, either as a student or a teacher (and often as both!). We aspire to make our faith one of lived action and aim to make our Christian Learning Program a creative, inspiring, inquisitive and fun place to explore the Bible, our faith and living God's Love in the world.
We love children at First Congregational! They enrich our time together, add spiritual energy, share fresh perspectives and help us truly feel like one big church family. Infants, children and youth are always welcome in worship. We have a special area when you first enter our sanctuary with rocking chairs and rugs for young families to spread out and use our books, crayons and small toys to help engage our littlest ones during the service. We don’t fret about squacks or coos from babies in worship, they remind us of new life all around us. If you’d prefer, we have a colorful nursery on the lower level staffed by our Nursery Supervisor, Linnea Garcia, during the service so infants and toddlers through age 3 can wiggle and play together while parents and caregivers attend worship upstairs.
Early in the worship service, young people are invited to come forward to the chancel steps for a Children’s Message shared by our Director of Learning and Outreach, Sarah Petersen. This time is a special moment where experiencing God’s Love in the world and learning how to follow Jesus’s example of standing up and caring for one another is put into children’s language and hands-on examples. Often the adults in our congregation learn from the stories and snippets of wisdom our youngest seekers share!
Following the Children’s Message, children ages 4-12 walk with our teacher team to our Church House ½ a block down the street for Sunday School during the school year. Our multi-age classroom uses the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum that follows the scripture heard in worship each week with time for discussion, creative projects or active games. Sunday School is intended to be a place where children can deepen their relationship with God, speak openly, be supported, and learn to listen to their hearts. Parents are always welcome to sit in on Sunday School whenever they would like. At the end of Sunday School, the teachers bring the children back to join their families for coffee hour by 11:15am.
Contact Sarah Petersen, Director of Learning and Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register for our Christian Education Program. Drop ins and visitors welcome!
Social Justice and Service
Social Justice, service and fellowship activities are offered periodically throughout the year to engage our church family in building community and living our faith through action. Youth and adults participate in the Crop Walk each fall to raise money for those living in hunger locally and internationally.
During June, July and August, a rotating group of adult and teen volunteers take the children outside to Raymond Park across the street for Summer Spirit following the Children’s Message. During Summer Spirit, we let God speak to us through the breeze, through running and laughing, deepening friendships, and time together outside. We provide a bin of bubbles, balls, sidewalk chalk and easy art supplies so the focus is on fun with the kids at the park!
In alternate years we offer a twice a month, school-year-long Confirmation Class for middle school students to learn about our shared history and traditions, as well as explore their own faith more deeply. We invite these students to affirm their baptisms and join our church in a youth-led Confirmation Service in early May. Following Confirmation Class, we connect our youth with adult mentors to deepen their connection to our larger community. Older youth are welcome to join us at Sunday School in special leadership roles. High School youth are invited to participate in worship as lay readers, Jr. deacons, and choir members. We offer many intergenerational events where our whole church family can learn and play together, such as our annual All Church Retreat at Tower Hill Camp & Retreat Center in Sawyer, MI on Lake Michigan for a weekend each June.
Arts, Music and Worship
We have a creative Spirit at First Congregational!
Visual and expressive arts are incorporated weekly into our Sunday School curriculum through hands-on projects that engage our multi-age classroom in exploring the concepts from that day’s scripture reading. We also have a small gallery space in our church narthex with rotating exhibits by members of our congregation. Some of the shows have featured a solo show by a high school student, group art showcased from our Sunday School classes and multi-generational found-object art sculptures by our whole congregation.
Twice a year the youth look forward to collaborating together to stage our Christmas and Palm Sunday Pageants. We try to find new ways to tell old stories that lead to a deeper understanding of the messages of the season. We’ve told the nativity story from the animals’ perspectives, explored the power of giving through a Tolstoy piece, and staged the events leading up to the first Easter with a paper mache donkey leading the way.
Children, youth and whole families are invited to sing in our “pop-up” Family Choir that sings in worship 2-3 times a year. To make participation accessible for busy families, our rehearsals are typically held before the service on the same morning the Family Choir will perform during worship.
While all our worship services are open to all, we put a special focus on multigenerational and youth-led worship during several services each the year. We might incorporate artwork or flowing banners into the service, have special youth readers and more interactive elements in worship. Our Confirmation Service in May is entirely youth designed and led. Every voice is important at First Congregational!