FAQ: How can I . . . find a new church home?
Take your time. We welcome you to come out and meet us. Read and reflect here.
As part of your research, go to the United Church of Canada's website browse a little and think a little. Then talk to others who are already members of a United Church and discover why they joined. You might be surprised at the variety of answers you get. Members come to this denomination for a great many reasons and usually feel accepted here for just who they are. Many are first generation members. That's not surprising since the UCC has only been around since 1925 when it was created from Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist roots. That ancestry has been proven to be a good foundation for spiritual growth for the church and now, possibly, for you too.
OK — so now you think that the United Church might be a good fit for you. Which United Church should you try out? The United Church represents the largest Protestant denomination in Canada but that doesn't mean that all the churches in our family have an identical approach to worship. You will find quite a variety amongst United Churches even here in London.
Our tag line, "Where liberal theology meets the best of tradition," is meant to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of theology if you come to First-St. Andrew's. Here's what that means in terms of our beliefs:
Briefly put, we are a church which values tradition — especially in worship and music. We are slightly formal, which might feel old-fashioned to some — but we find a comfort and strength in this dignified kind of worship. In theology, though, we are surprisingly liberal. We have welcomed gay and lesbian members in our community for decades, and are now a designated Affirming Congregation within the United Church of Canada. We see ourselves as part of the Progressive Christianity movement*, which explores the liberal end of the theological spectrum. Like most United Churches, we have a continuum of beliefs represented in the pews, from conservative to post-Christian - but the majority of us are small 'l' liberal Christians. We take the Bible seriously, but not literally, and try to live our lives as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, in a world where we recognize that God is worshipped well in many different faith traditions. By being faithful to our own we celebrate them all. We believe this thinking is also reflected in our mission statement:
"First-St. Andrew's United Church: an inclusive Christian family encouraging spiritual growth through worship, friendship, learning and action."
*Liberal, or progressive Christianity, is a movement that values the questions of faith, the biblical scholarship of people like Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, and respect for other faith traditions.
- Our new minister of Worship and Congregational Life is the Rev. Michelle Down. Come out and experience her warmth and enthusiasm. You'll be glad you did.
- Pastoral care is the provenance of the Minister of Visitation, Tom Hiscock and our Designated Visitor, Jo Ann Silcox.. That means if you are sick or shut-in, for whatever reason, they are prepared to bring FSA to you wherever you are.
- We also have a leadership position specifically for Youth and Young Families and Jane Dockrill fills that role for us.
- Exceptional music is what we're known for. This happens by design. We are one of the few United Churches in Canada to have a full time director of music. Paul Merritt ably leads us in all that we do in that respect. Trust us, you'll be impressed at the quality of our senior choir, handbells and string ensemble to say nothing of the special musical guests which inspire us week after week. We also have two children's choirs (see below) and a music program for tots under four.
We are located in the heart of downtown London at Waterloo and Queens. Look for the heritage church building with the high green copper steeple (centre photo). Many find our sanctuary inspiring. Beautiful stained-glass windows surround us as we worship.
We have a balcony where you can get a grand and inspiring view of the whole church. FSA is a little different from many churches in that the organ is located in the balcony and the choir sings from up there also. The result is that when you sit downstairs there is a wonderful feeling of being bathed in music that wafts down from above. Some say it's the closest thing to being in heaven that they'll ever experience.
On the right is Proudfoot Hall, below the sanctuary, where we gather each week after the church service, for coffee and conversation.
There's one Sunday service at 10:30 am. You don't have to dress up but most people wear what has come to be termed business attire. In the summertime we "go informal" and shorts and sandals are worn by many. If you miss a service you can download a hard copy of the weekly bulletin (order of service) from the "Worship Archive" link (under the menu item "About Us") on our web. You can hear the sermon at that same link. Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, we can't provide audio of the music that accompanies each service.
After worship service we linger over "Coffee and Conversation" (and juice for the kids) downstairs in Proudfoot Hall. That's where you can really get to know us and find out what makes the church tick. In the summer we go outside for "Lemonade on the Lawn". Don't rush away after service; stay back and visit.
The "Bulletin" is our weekly order of service that you receive from our Welcoming-Greeters as you come to church each Sunday. You will also receive a listing of all upcoming church events so you can put them up on your refrigerator door!
Finally, speak to the church administrative assistant and she will put you on the e-mailing list for her weekly missive (our "email blast") of church events that are coming up.
Check out the "Ministries" button on the menu at the top of this page to find out about all of our programs for children and young people. We have a staffed nursery for each Sunday morning service and Sunday School runs during the service. A youth program called "The God Squad" runs simultaneously with the service and they hold special events during the week in addition.
We have tried our best to eliminate barriers that might be a problem for those who want to join us. FSA is fully wheelchair and scooter accessible. Assistive hearing devices are available from the ushers. Parking directly behind the church is set aside especially for those with mobility issues.
We hope you noticed that word "inclusive" in our Mission Statement up above. This word is there to remind all who may feel left out at times that they are welcome at FSA. For example, we have an active LGBTQ committee which is always seeking to honour the spiritual and social needs of this group. We regularly have a contingent of FSA people who march in London's annual Pride Parade to publicly show their support. In 2014 we recieved the "Affirming Ministry" designation of the United Church of Canada. Take a peak at our Vision Statement. It says it all. We want First-St. Andrew's to feel like "home" for everyone who choses to come through our doors.