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


December 2:  An Early Christmas Story

Facilitator:  Larry Anderson


How important was Christmas to the early Christians? Among the dozen or more writers and narrators of the New Testament, only two report stories of Jesus’ birth and they tell very different stories. Scholars have wondered why Mark, John, Paul and several writers claiming to be Paul and John don’t mention the birth at all.  Bring your curiosity and your mystical vision for a conversation with Larry Anderson. …Larry is our most active Forum presenter; he has a way to make one think in new ways.

December 9 & 16:  Alzheimer's Awareness - Part 1 & 2

Facilitator: Ralph Miller

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Warning signs and symptoms will be the focus of the first session (12/9), followed by the ever-expanding science about the disease and treatment options in the second (12/16).

Ralph Miller is a volunteer Community Educator for the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in

Alzheimer’s care, support and research. He is also the Marketing Director for Sunny Creek Farm, a hydroponic sprout farm in Tryon, where they promote a holistic approach to health through plant-based eating options.

December 23:  NO FORUM


December 30:  Burning Bowl/Letters to God

Facilitator: Romella Hart-O'Keefe


This is an end of the year celebration. The burning bowl ceremony is an opportunity to release to God negative thoughts, feelings, memories and habits that we have clung to during the year.  Then, with clarity of mind and in anticipation of a new beginning, you will be are invited to write a letter to God about your hopes and prayers for the New Year.  These letters will be kept for you until December 1st of 2019 when they will be mailed back to you. Please provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Even if you forget the envelope, come anyway.

Romella Hart-O’Keefe is co-leader of the Adult Forum. She retired from a position administering a social work program in Buffalo. New York.  

January 6: Writers' Forum

Facilitator: Randy Bishop

Four times a year the Writers Roundtable, composed of church members and community folks who meet monthly, will offer their work at the Adult Forum. Writers - whether church members or not – are invited to attend and read their  work (any genre). Listeners are of course very welcome. To sign up to read or if you have questions, contact Rand Bishop, retired English professor. at or phone 828-697-0090.

January 13: To Be Announced




January 20: Supersense

Facilitator: Larry Anderson


SUPERSENSE is the title of Bruce Hood's 2009 very approachable book.  It discusses the many ways our "beliefs" have their roots in feelings, emotional intuition, superstition, wishes and magical thinking.  Even beliefs that we may later understand as solidly rational.  Can it be that our religion, values, institutions, and "businessness" come from the wonderfully unapproachable well of of our intuitions, superstitions, and magical thinking?  And there is little we can do about it.  Or can we?  Larry Anderson will highlight the book's message with examples.  It promises to evoke some lively discussion.  Larry, a retired minister and psychologist, is a frequent Forum presenter.

January 27:  Climate Change and the Sacred Earth - Part One

Facilitator:   Ed O'Keefe and Others

This Forum and the next (February 3), will be devoted to a new book by Rev. Matthew Fox (of Original Blessing fame).  Writing with two younger co-authors - Fox is 72 - the full title is Order of the Sacred Earth:  An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action.  The authors are spearheading the rapid formation of the Order of the Sacred Earth whose members - of all ages, religions, etc.  would takeonly one vow:  I PROMISE TO BE THE BEST LOVER AND DEFENDER OF MOTHER EARTH THAT I CAN BE".

This first Forum will discuss the latest information on Climate Change and Global Warming, including the recent fire in California and the refugee situation throughout the world.

Ed O'Keefe shares the Coordination of these Forums with his wife, Romella.


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.