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Statement of Mission

We are called by Jesus to be a transforming presence for God in the world.  By this we mean:

  • -   propelled by God’s grace, we strive to welcome and love everyone;
  • -   seeking to hear God’s voice in today’s world, we worship, learn and grow in faith individually and as a community;
  • -   responding to God’s call for compassion, justice, and care of the earth, we equip and empower each other to make a difference in our lives and in the world.

Church Covenant: 

We are in covenant with God and one another to:

-   serve God with faithfulness;

-   treat one another with acceptance, love, and compassion;

-   bear witness to the world with love; and

-   live our faith humbly, yet boldly.

 

We are

Open and Affirming,

fully accepting and welcoming people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

In 1994, First Congregational UCC voted to become an Open and Affirming church, making our commitment to welcoming all people into our church and into our life an official part of our bylaws. We are a member of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination and seek to actively support gay, lesbian, bisexual,  transgender, intersex  justice issues while providing a home of love and acceptance to all.

We commonly hold and seek

to live into the Christian values of:

Progressive (both in fresh understandings of God’s word and an openness to the new issues that God calls us to address):

  • Inclusiveness
  • Spiritual Vitality
  • Servant Community
  • Equal rights for women
  • Radical hospitality to all, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey

 

We are members and participants in the Body of Christ.

We are staff and lay leaders, united to serve God and empower the members and participants of the church in faith, service and ministry.

We are a supportive, inclusive community.

 

UCC DENOMINATION

We are members of the United Church of Christ.  

The United Church of Christ consists of over 5,000 congregations who united out of the Congregational, Christian, liberal Lutheran and liberal Reformed traditions to form a new church that sought to define and guide its life not by our glorious pasts and traditions but to be faithful to what God called us to be about in the future.

The United Church of Christ affirms as a statement of faith commonly held by us that:

 

We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus Christ our brother, and to whose deeds we testify:

 

God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image and sets before us the ways of life and death.

God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

God judges humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator.

God bestows up on the Holy Spirit creating and renewing the Church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

God calls us into the Church, to accept the cost and joys of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
 

God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end.

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto God. Amen.

MEET OUR STAFF

Pastor Sarah Lund

Senior Minister

PastorSarah@fcindy.org

Pastor Sarah is passionate about loving God, her family, and being part of faith communities. Her personal mission is to partner with others to share God's healing and hope.  Pastor Sarah was called by unanimous vote of the congregation in January of 2018 to serve as our senior pastor. Pastor Sarah also serves the wider church on the National Staff of the United Church of Christ as the Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice.


She is an ordained minister with standing in the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served as pastor to churches in Brooklyn, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and New Smyrna Beach, FL. Pastor Sarah also served as Regional Minister for the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ with a focus on congregational vitality, and most recently as Vice President for Advancement at Christian Theological Seminary.


Pastor Sarah's formal education includes degrees from Trinity University (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), Rutgers University (MSW), McCormick Theological Seminary (DMin). She has certificates in Fundraising Management from the IUPUI School of Fundraising, Disability Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH, and Executive Leadership from Princeton Theological Seminary. 


Pastor Sarah is an active community volunteer and serves locally on the board of the Faith and Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary to end poverty and is the UCC Denominational Representative for Bread for the World Indiana Chapter. Pastor Sarah serves nationally as a Trustee of Piedmont University, and as Director of Bethany Fellows, Mental Health America, and as Executive Committee for Pathways to Promise. She is the Open and Affirming LGBTQ Consultant and a member of the Mental Health Ministry Team for the Indiana-Kentucky Conference UCC. Pastor Sarah is the past President of the Southeast Association of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference UCC. 


Pastor Sarah received the Princeton Engle Preaching Prize for excellence in preaching and the Bob and Joyce Dell Award for Mental Health Education from the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network for "her outstanding authorship and leadership in breaking the silence about mental illness in family and in church and offering healing and hope." Pastor Sarah is a widely published author in journals, magazines, and books. She is the author of the widely regarded books on mental health, Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and Church (Chalice Press, 2014) and Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness and Marriage (Chalice Press, 2021). She blogs at sarahgriffithlund.com.


Pastor Sarah is married to Jonathan Lund, who is a medical massage therapist and they are the proud parents of their middle school age son Carter. Fia, a boxer/poodle mix and Indy, a goldendoodle, are also a beloved members of their family. As a family the Lunds love to read, go for walks, play games, and travel the world.

Pastor Carol Sowle

Pastoral Care Associate

Pastor Carol Sowle became a member of First Congregational in 2007, drawn by our Open and Affirming stance, complete with rainbow sticker on the door, and by the beautiful sanctuary.


Pastor Carol is a true Hoosier: born in Angola, Indiana, grew up in Auburn, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne. For her first career, she worked for Lincoln Life Insurance prior to her earning a Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from St. Mary of the Woods College, West Terre Haute Indiana.  Pastor Carol is a graduate of the Clinical Pastoral Education program at St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis. She then served as a Hospice Bereavement Coordinator and then as a Hospice Chaplain. 


Pastor Carol went back to Seminary in 2008 at Christian Theological Seminary and earned a Master of Divinity in 2012.  She retired from Aseracare Hospice in 2015.  Pastor Carol has served First Congregational in several roles including Vice Moderator and Moderator and has been involved in many capacities including New Creation worship and worship planning, Adult education planning and facilitating, serving as board chair for Worship and Faith, worship liturgist, and many other projects. 


In March of 2019, Pastor Carol began serving as a Lay Minister in the role of Pastoral Care Associate as part of the process of discernment towards ordination in the United Church of Christ. 

Sean Baker (he/him)

Organist, Music Designer

 Sean Baker "the music maker" has appeared all over Indianapolis as a pianist and vocalist and has had the fortune of working with most of the city's finest singers and musicians over the years. Known for his brand of cleverly arranged music, he has performed in several groups including Four Sexes, the Leisure Kings, Elevator UP!, and as house pianist for Chef Joseph's at the Connoisseur room from 2011-2018.


Also, an accomplished composer and orchestrator, he has arranged albums for Chicago based lyricist/performer Peter Oprisko and local performer, Larry Boggs.. Years of persistence in his favorite genre of mid-century lounge music has taken him from writing jingles to selling music to TV shows. For ten years Sean worked for Theatre on the Square as a sound cue editor and backing track orchestrator. In 2015 Sean scripted, composed, and acted in his own autobiographical play called The Perfect "10" which was also an homage to the famous film by Blake Edwards called "10." In 2018, Mr. Baker scored music to a local film called "Decay."


Sean found First Congregation UCC in 2011. In that time he became pianist and arranger for the New Creation gathering, heads up an annual courtroom pride skit dealing with clobber passages, and is now currently the organist and music designer where at last all of his many talents join forces to create meaningful, ignited worship though music.

Cassidy Hall (she/her)

cassidy@fcindy.org

Administrative Assistant & External Communications

 

 

Cassidy Hall (MA, MDiv, MTS) is an author, filmmaker, podcaster, and holds a Masters of Divinity, Masters of Theological Studies, and Masters in Counseling. Born and raised in Iowa, she now works as Director of Communications for the Heartland and IKC Conferences in the United Church of Christ – overseeing First Communication for hundreds of churches in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana. She is ordained pending call in the United Church of Christ and continues to re-imagine alongside the modern world what it means to be the church. Her current role at First Congregational is serving as the Church Admin and in Church Communications. 


Throughout her time at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, she worked as a Teaching Assistant while studying for her MDiv and MTS degrees (December, 2021). During her time at seminary, she also served as the Secretary of the International Thomas Merton Society and continues to serve on the board of enfleshed.


Cassidy co-authored Notes on Silence (2018) and has had her work featured in devotionals including most recently: Thirsty, and You Gave Me Drink; Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C, from Clear Faith Publishing (2021). Her essays have been published in the Christian Century, Convivium Journal, The Thomas Merton Seasonal, The Thomas Merton Annual (Vol.  32), and has been featured on The Huffington Post, Patheos, and the National Catholic Reporter. She has also worked on the editorial staff of the Wilbur Award-Winning Blog, Sick Pilgrim.


Before pursuing her MDiv and MTS in Indianapolis, Cassidy lived in Los Angeles where she worked on the production team of the documentary feature film, In Pursuit of Silence. The film’s success on the festival circuit and beyond led to its worldwide theatrical release. Her directorial debut short-film, Day of a Stranger, paints an intimate portrait of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years and received the Audience Choice Award from Illuminate Film Festival.  

She is the co-host of the Encountering Silence podcast, which explores the ambiguity of silence in our modern-day lives. And more recently, she created a podcast hosted by the Christian Century titled Contemplating Now, which examines the intersection of contemplation and social justice. You can find out more about her at cassidyhall.com

Scott Semester (he/him)

sssemester@gmail.com

Soloist &

Worship Song Leader

 

 

Scott Semester is excited to be a part of making music with the First Congregational family. He grew up at St. Luke's United Methodist Church (just up the road), and as an adult member there, he sang with the Chancel Choir, performed in staged musical productions and Children's Ministries skits, and provided special music for worship, retreats, and other events. Scott is also an accomplished cabaret performer, and he is the current host of the Big Broadway Sing-Along with Sean Baker. In 2012, Scott was an on-stage performer in the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show with Madonna. 

 

When he's not singing, you can find Scott in his day job at the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, a private foundation working to advance the vitality of Indianapolis and the well-being of its people. Scott lives in downtown Indianapolis, and his family includes his mom and dad, his older brother, and two nieces and a nephew, who all live in Carmel.

Ben James (he/him)

Media Technician

 

 

Ben James serves as the media technician at First Congregational UCC, managing the sanctuary media and livestream during church services.  Ben has also shared his singing gifts with the church choir and enjoys learning and collaborating with Sean Baker very much.

 

Ben is currently a college student at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis.  He is very interested in all things related to technology – in particular, robotics, drones, and virtual or augmented reality programing.  He is an amateur photographer (including drone photography) and avid video gamer.  He volunteers at Misty Eyes Animal Center, a no-kill shelter in Avon, where he is known as the “cat whisperer.”

 

Ben joined First Congregational as a young adult, but was raised in a family with strong ties to the UCC, including a grandfather that is a retired UCC minister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delaney Beh (they/them)

Just Peace Intern

Hello! My name is Delaney Beh (they/them), and I am a senior philosophy and religious studies student at Butler University.  Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, I am now a full-time Indiana resident, as my family joined me out here shortly following my first year in college.  As a member of the University Honors Program and President of Butler’s Philosophy Club, I strongly value service, scholarship, and good conversation.  I hope to bring these values together as First Congregational’s Just Peace Intern for the Fall 2022 semester and utilize the opportunity to create a space where community members can bravely discuss their present anxieties and aspirations at this intersection of peace and justice.

 

I sought out this internship because I personally feel a call to ministry, particularly in the area of chaplaincy.  As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have spent most of my time in college searching for a faith community that would enthusiastically affirm and support me in my call.  Through many visits and a lot of research, I am beyond grateful to have found the United Church of Christ and am currently a member at St. Peter’s UCC in Carmel.  In anticipation of entering seminary next year, I am excited for the opportunity to work within a UCC congregation and further discern my call. 

MEET OUR OFFICERS

Judy Fletcher

Senior Councilor

Our church is experimenting with a shared leadership model.  The roles of moderator and vice moderator have been replaced by a team of three senior councilors, each of whom serves a four-month term as “lead” councilor.

Larry Eckel

Senior Councilor

Our church is experimenting with a shared leadership model.  The roles of moderator and vice moderator have been replaced by a team of three senior councilors, each of whom serves a four-month term as “lead” councilor.

Steve Coomer

Senior Councilor

Our church is experimenting with a shared leadership model.  The roles of moderator and vice moderator have been replaced by a team of three senior councilors, each of whom serves a four-month term as “lead” councilor.

Sue Chapman

Financial Secretary

The Financial Secretary keeps an account for each person making a pledge to the Church, oversees offerings made to the church, coordinates as such with the Treasurer, and makes a report at the Annual Meeting and periodically to the Trustees. The Financial Secretary is a member ex-officio of the Board of Trustees.

Janet Selby

Clerk

The Clerk keeps the minutes of the proceedings of the Church, the Board of Trustees, and the Church Council. The Clerk ensures that a permanent register of the members of the Church is kept, with the dates of their reception and removal; and of baptisms, marriages, births and deaths; and makes a full report at the Annual Meeting. The Clerk gives legal notice of meetings when required, reports to the appropriate person all communications intended for the Church and conducts its correspondence as may be necessary.

Jim Lootens

Treasurer

The Treasurer oversees the operating funds of the Church (and any other funds entrusted to the  Treasurer), signs all checks disbursing these funds as authorized by the appropriate Board or Team.  The Treasurer makes a financial report to the congregation at the Annual Meeting and performs such other duties as are usually incident to the Office. The Treasurer is a member ex-officio of the Board of Trustees.

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