Worship 10:30 a.m.

Sunday mornings at First Congregational are designed to enhance the spiritual life of members and visitors alike.

Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.


Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.

Most Sundays at 9:00 am, First Congregational holds our Adult Forum, which offers programs designed to encourage participants to explore new ideas and deepen their religious faith.

Congregants and visiting presenters provide lectures, videos, and discussions examining multiple aspects of spirituality, philosophy, other religions, Scriptural topics, health-related subjects, and more. All points of view are encouraged at this open exchange of ideas and views; there is no “correct” doctrine. Everyone, including visitors, is welcome to attend.

I came first to the Ashley Lecture Series and remember thinking any church that would have such interesting and challenging speakers must be special. So I came back to a service or two and went to a few Adult Forums. Consistently, I have been intellectually engaged by First Congregational's commitment to questioning, thinking, and life-long spiritual growth.

Roger Smith


September 2: No Forum

Labor Day Weekend and Apple Festival

September 9: We’re Born, We Die, Then What?

Facilitators: Sandy Westin and Panel

Is there really life after death? Should the belief in the afterlife portrayed in Christian teachings be taken literally?  This Forum will explore these questions from the point of view of other faiths as well as science, poets and philosophers. We will explore the writings and thinking of a few progressive theologians on the topic, including those of past Ashley lecturers such as Bishop John Shelby Spong and the late Marcus Borg. We will also check in with those who have crossed the Great Divide and returned to tell about it, as well as those earnestly sharing their experiences of past lives and deaths under hypnosis.

Our panel will share their own thoughts and beliefs, and there will be time for questions and thoughts from the audience. Sandy Westin, an occasional contributor to the Forum, will facilitate, joined by Pastor Mike Cleland and retired ministers Larry Anderson and Ed O’Keefe.

September 16: Writers’ Forum

Facilitator: Rand Bishop


Four times a year the Forum hosts the writers’ group composed of church members and community folks who meet monthly to share their writing.  Members, or not, who would like to read from their work (any genre) are invited to register with Rand Bishop (697-0090).


Rand Bishop, a retired university professor of English, coordinates our Writers’ Group and this quarterly Forum.

September 23: Using Evolutionary Psychology to Explain Religion

Facilitator: Don Emon


In the past 25 years there has been an increasing amount of research that uses scientific tools to understand religion. One of these approaches uses evolutionary psychology, which is based on the idea that things that help humans (and other animals) survive and reproduce, helping us understand why these things exist. One example is our inherent lack of trust of people that do not look like us, which helps explain why humans have a racial bias. Don will share his ideas about how this science helps explain how religions developed and why religions exist.  


Don is active in the community and has made many Forum presentations. 

September 30: Congregational Suicide Awareness Training

Facilitator: Fe Anam Avis

Note: This Forum is a training session not a discussion, so come prepared to learn by doing. 

Suicide is the third leading killer of high school students and the second leading killer of young adults, but by far the highest suicides rates are among adults 45 to 64. With a few basic skills, ordinary adults can be equipped for the extraordinary work of saving lives. Faith communities are not immune to the impacts of suicidal desperation. This class will equip participants with the tools to make our congregation safer for those passing through a season of hopelessness and isolation.

Fe Anam Avis is a nationally known figure in suicide prevention work and has trained thousands of people in suicide awareness and intervention skills. He is the creator of Soul Shop ™, an international movement which trains clergy and other church leaders and members to make ministry with those impacted by suicidal desperation a regular aspect of their lives.  The goal is to reach 20,000 congregations by 2020. Fe lives in Hendersonville.

Contact us to learn more about First Congregational. 


Contact us to learn more about First Congregational. 

Our worship service is a balance of participation among our pastor, the lay leader for the Sunday, and the congregation. Each Sunday, beginning at 10:30 am, the pastor offers a sermon based on a scripture reading, often connecting the passage to current events. We believe that Jesus had a passion for social justice and mission, and so does our pastor. It would not be unusual to hear him speak out against the denial of civil rights due to racism, sexism, and homophobia; inequality of opportunity and income; abuse of the environment; violence and war, and other injustices that contribute to brokenness in a world that needs healing.

Worship is enhanced by a variety of musical offerings, including our choir, member instrumentalists, and guest musicians from the community.

I finally found a church in which my understanding of God has been stretched, my experience of God’s spirit enlarged. In this place I feel surrounded by folks who take Jesus’ message seriously. I am so grateful to be part of this loving community.

Charlotte Shipley


lifts spirits...offers hope...inspires joy...

expresses love...

nurtures potential...creates unity...praises God

                                                               Music Heals + Beauty Heals + Love Heals

                                                     These three simple phrases guide the work of our choir.

The choir rehearses each Thursday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:00. Members of our choir family are enthusiastic,

committed, encouraging, and welcoming to all. Read about the joy being in the choir has brought to one of our members.

Membership in the choir is open to everyone, high school through adult; members of the church and friends from the 

community are all welcome.

We sing a variety of literature in our 10:30 worship service each Sunday, from traditional classical anthems to spirituals

to songs of social justice.

Instrumentalists both from within our church and our community are also a regular part of our Sunday gatherings.

To learn more about the choir and other musical opportunities, call our Minister of Music, Mark Acker, at 615-430-3506.

Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.


Contact us to learn more about First Congregational. 

We provide a child-centered, caring facility for children during the worship service, including nursery, childcare, and a Sunday School program that uses the Progressive Christianity curriculum, incorporating free play time with guided instruction in basic Christian values through stories and activities.

First Congregational is what my husband and I were looking for in a church community...a place to question, a place to reflect, and a place to take action. My children get to experience the support and love of an open and affirming community and are taught values not just literal biblical stories. As a couple in our 40s, many of our peers have left organized religion. First Congregational is a place where we can raise our children by modeling social justice, inclusion, environmental stewardship, and progressive Christianity.

Kirsten Cone


Each Sunday after worship, congregants and visitors gather for coffee hour. Members volunteer to host and provide refreshments, while the church supplies fair-trade coffee. This special gathering offers opportunities to welcome newcomers, to experience the warmth of fellowship, and to be an integral part of church life.

Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.


The Church has ample parking on each side of the building, including reserved spots for visitors.

Handicapped parking is located in both lots. The building is also accessible to wheelchairs and to people with special needs. During Worship, hearing devices and large print bulletins are available.

Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.


We are located in Laurel Park at the corner of Fifth Avenue and White Pine Road. This interactive map provides directions to the church from your location.


Contact us to learn more about First Congregational.