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


January 28: Death Thoughts

Facilitator: Dr. Don Emon


Death is a subject that many people choose not to talk about. In Don’s role as President of the local chapter of Compassion and Choices, and his recent recovery from cancer surgery, he has been thinking and reading about death. He will present many different ideas about death which he’s hoping will cause the audience to think more about the subject and be better prepared for death. As an example, death is often given as the primary reason for religion in that religion may provide answers to many questions associated with death. Time is planned for questions and comments.


Don has spoken at a number of Forums in the past several years. He has four college degrees, and is a retired nuclear scientist. He has represented Compassion and Choices for many years in this community; he is also quite active in IAM. He loves to lecture to varied audiences on many subjects.


February 4: Anxiety in the Older Adult

Facilitator: Rebecca Sharp-Cassanego


Anxiety Disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. Developing an anxiety disorder late in life, while common, is not a normal part of aging. In this discussion, we will look at current theories surrounding anxiety, the different types of anxiety disorders, evidence-based treatments, and tips on how to manage symptoms of anxiety.

Rebecca Sharp-Cassanego is the team Lead for the Vaya Health Geriatric and Adult Mental Healthy Specialty Team. Over the past 36 years, Rebecca has worked in multiple settings, including mental health and substance abuse. She has a passion for education and especially likes working with older adults around mental health issues such as dementia. Says Rebecca, “Understanding the disease process no matter what the diagnosis is, positively impacts the well-being of both the individual and their loved ones.”

February 11: Current State of the Christian Left

Facilitator: John Bodamer

The late Christian scholar/author/lecturer, Marcus Borg, used to tell his seminary/college students that they were being exposed, whether they knew it or not, to the Christian Left which was not in the mainstream tradition of Christianity. Similarly, our church represents here in the Southern Bible Belt the progressive Christian Left. John Bodamer, who last presented “Why Jesus Was Born a Jew,” will once again combine secular and Christian perspectives in assessing the status of the Christian Left. Please bring the questions; John will bring the answers.

John Bodamer is a long-time member of FCUCC and a lifelong learner with a passion for history. Recently retired from a career in software development, he intends to become a more frequent presenter at these Adult Forums.

February 18: Messianic Judiasm and Dance

Facilitator: Laurie Spearman

Who are Messianic Jews and why do they worship in dance? Learn about Messianic Judaism worldwide beginning with the spiritual awakening of Israel in 1967 (the Six Day War). Hear from Jewish believers who came to faith in their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua/Jesus, and learn how a remnant of believers exploded from approximately 3,000 to over 1.5 million. Hear (via video) from Joel Chernoff, a second-generation Messianic Jew, CEO of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (oldest and largest messianic organization), and Vice President of the International Messianic Alliance. See how the prophecies of the Bible have been unfolding in our generation. Watch or participate in a simple worship dance.

Laurie Spearman, who retired from Corporate America nine years ago, lives in Pickens, SC.  She has been leading Messianic dance groups for eight years. Dances are held weekly at Henderson County Parks and Recreation. This will be discussed at the Forum.

February 25: Matter, Mother, Mater, Material: The Many Faces of God/Reality 

Facilitator: Larry Anderson

Join Larry Anderson, our most prolific Forum presenter, as he helps us clarify (or further confuse) our understandings about God and the First Commandment. Do not worship strange gods, but honor only the Higher Self God – or is our personal Higher Self synonymous with the Deity of whom we speak? One is reminded of these sayings from Thomas Merton: “God is not someone else”; Larry Anderson: “Codependence is a sin against the First Commandment”; and Jesus: “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Larry Anderson, besides being our resident guitarist philosopher, is a retired prison psychologist (state of Michigan) and a former UCC minister.

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.