Congregation2017Welcome!

 

I’m Reverend Dominic Taranowski and I’d like to welcome you to the First Congregational Church in Melrose, United Church of Christ. A lot of churches say “come as you are,” but we really mean it. It doesn’t matter your age or your background or your story: you are welcome here.  We’re an intergenerational church with something for everyone: from our vibrant worship service on Sunday morning, to our Sunday school program, to our mission work, to our public advocacy presence.  We’re always about the work of faith formation and discipleship.

We strive to create a deeper relationship with God but also an outward expression of that faith in the wider world. The church provides opportunities for both of those.  You can renew and strengthen your relationship with God and also find ways to live out that faith on a daily basis. We are a casual, committed, progressive church and we welcome you here.

See you in church!


News

College Cheating Scandal

As one who has kids who are college-aged, I was shocked by the news last week of the cheating scandal—that wealthy families paid huge sums of money to assure that their kids were admitted to top universities around the country.  This was done by paying people to falsify student profiles, change test results, and even present as disabled when they were not in order to get preferential treatment.

The bottom line is that these extremely wealthy people kept out others who were playing by the rules.  They bought their kids the school enrollment that they wanted.

As upsetting as this is, it struck me that it is not so unusual.  Throughout history there have always been those who have felt entitled; those who felt that the rules don’t apply to them.  There have always been those who have tried to buy their way to whatever they wanted.

That’s actually true in the realm of religion too.  Like those parents who were willing to pay whatever it took to get their kids into the best universities, there were also those who, at one time, were willing to pay whatever it took to get themselves and their families into heaven.  It was called “indulgences” and it was a linchpin of the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s.

At that time, the Catholic church had set up a system whereby one could curry divine favor through financial payments.  One could have one’s sins forgiven, assure a place in heaven, and even post bail for someone in hell (essentially) by means of financial contribution to the church.

It certainly did a lot to line the pockets of the church at that time (and probably some chosen members of the hierarchy too).  It was a workable system for the rich.  It did not work so well, however, for the poor.  You see, they believed the same thing that everyone else did: that you could pay your way into heaven as it were.  Only they couldn’t afford it.  So they were stuck.  What the poor didn’t realize is that they were in better shape spiritually by not paying indulgences than the rich who were.

The bottom line is that tricking your way into the life you want is no life at all.  The foundation is dishonesty.  Thankfully, this college fraud was exposed not only to help end it and allow everyone the fair shake they deserve, but also to prevent the children of these wealthy families from starting their adult lives based on lies.

Likewise, we are thankful that the Protestant reformers had the courage to expose an unjust system some 500 years ago and thereby prevent more people from adhering to a twisted theology based on divine bribery.

See you in church,

–Rev. Dominic

 

 

 

 

Pastoral Letter on Unity

Our General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Rev. John Dorhauer, has shared the following Pastoral Letter with our churches.  His important words speak to the role of the church in reclaiming community and hope in these challenging times.

See you in church,

 

–Rev. Dominic


Dear Partners in Christ:

The vision of a body united – in purpose, in mission, in vision – is one that inspired the birth of our denomination. All of our spiritual impulses reverberate in an effort to call us into a more perfect union. Throughout our shared history as a people of faith and as a part of the Body of Christ, we have challenged ourselves to widen the circle of inclusion. Widening the circle has always come with growth pains as we shed old skins and welcome those whom we had previously thought unwelcome. And, with each new articulation of a more fully expressed Body of Christ we have realized new joy. Through it all we remain focused on the call to be one and committed to meeting the challenges inherent in that call.

We are now living in and through a season when the threats to unity are legion. Talk of walls that mark refugees as threats, labels like ‘terrorist’ that attach too easily to Muslims, overt racial bias that normalizes fear and hatred, a pandemic of abuse to women with the trigger reflex to forgive the men who author that abuse have turned America into a land many of us no longer recognize and that too many of us are finding harder and harder to reconcile with our faith.

Now more than ever, the Holy Spirit of the Living God and the Risen Christ is seeking to partner with anyone committed to unifying the human community. The gospel mandate to love our neighbor as we love ourselves resonates deep within us. It calls for the better angels among and within us to always resist impulses to hate, to condemn, to vilify, or to castigate. In such a time as this, the United Church of Christ’s call to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, that they may all be one, stands as an urgent mandate to disciples who envision a just world for all.

United with you in God’s service,

The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister and President, UCC

Stating the Obvious

Late last December, Congress unanimously passed legislation to
make lynching a federal crime. Now, you might think that such a
horrific act would already be on the books as a crime, but, until last
December, it was not.

With the recent hate crime-attack on actor Jussie Smollett, which
had many hallmarks of a lynch-attack, it becomes readily apparent that
this law is deeply needed.

Interestingly enough, there was opposition to the bill. Even more
interestingly, it came from Christians (or at least those who claim to be
Christian).

The Liberty Counsel, an evangelical legal organization known for
its political lobbying on behalf of Christian conservatives, lobbied
against the legislation. Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty
Counsel, asked legislators to remove language from the bill that
explicitly includes protections for people on the basis of sexual and
gender identity.

Why, you ask? Simple: An anti-lynching law is, according to
Staver in an interview he gave to the Christian news siteOneNewsNow,
only a baby step to one day passing employment, housing and health
care legislation that would offer protections to LGBTQ people. Because
gay and lesbian people go against God’s will, they should not be offered
these protections. That said, he is generally opposed to lynching.

Wow.

The idea that we are even having a political argument about
whether people should be legally protected from lynching is utterly
ridiculous. I cannot fathom anyone who would not want to see
extrajudicial, identity-based killings of any sort outlawed.
Fortunately, these lobbying efforts were unsuccessful but it
highlights just how organized and influential hate has become. The fact
that this kind of discrimination comes in a Christian package is even
more troubling.

When people of faith forget that Jesus called us to empower the
marginalized, to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, to not judge lest you
be judged, and to include everyone at the table of God’s grace,
something has gone wrong.

When people of faith forget that Jesus was essentially lynched by a
crowd of politically frenzied religious zealots because he didn’t fit in,
their faith has no heart and they assume the title “Christian” as only a
label and nothing more.

It may be stating the obvious, it may sound redundant, it may be
simplistic, but the truth is this: Ours is a God of love and inclusion not a
God of hate and violence.

See you in church,
–Rev. Dominic

A Place for Everyone - I have recently been reminded that one of the things that allows people to feel at home at First Congregational Church is my insistence that we don’t… Read more "A Place for Everyone"
Pastoral Letter on Unity - Our General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Rev. John Dorhauer, has shared the following Pastoral Letter with our churches.  His important words speak… Read more "Pastoral Letter on Unity"
Snow Cancellation Procedure - Dear Friends, Now that we are in the heart of winter, I want to share with you an update on how you would know if we should… Read more "Snow Cancellation Procedure"

Click here to see ALL of our news (present & past)

College Cheating Scandal - As one who has kids who are college-aged, I was shocked by the news last week of the cheating scandal—that wealthy families paid huge sums of money… Read more "College Cheating Scandal"
A Place for Everyone - I have recently been reminded that one of the things that allows people to feel at home at First Congregational Church is my insistence that we don’t… Read more "A Place for Everyone"
Pastoral Letter on Unity - Our General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Rev. John Dorhauer, has shared the following Pastoral Letter with our churches.  His important words speak… Read more "Pastoral Letter on Unity"
Stating the Obvious - Late last December, Congress unanimously passed legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Now, you might think that such a horrific act would already be on the… Read more "Stating the Obvious"
“…Like Warmed Syrup” - Some time ago, I heard about a waitress in a Texas dinner names Ivory Harlow.  She makes it her practice to help out people who come up… Read more "“…Like Warmed Syrup”"
Closing the Gap - from The Messenger, January 25, 2019 A.W. Tozer wrote: “We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshiping God.” The President… Read more "Closing the Gap"

Click here to see ALL of Rev. Dominic’s weekly notes (present & past)

In depth review

Church blogger George Parks recently attended our congregation and had this to say: “This is a warm, active, community church, that provides space for personal growth and contemplation, as well as advocacy for the greater good of the community. Melrose and the surrounding communities are very lucky to have FCC of Melrose contributing to the greater good.”  Read his review here.

Get to Know Us

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We seek to foster the joy, love, and fellowship that are part in parcel in our Christian community. We have a great time when we’re together. Our hope is that our church will brighten lives and not subtract joy.

These are exciting days for our church as we grow in the spirit and love of Christ. We have much to celebrate at First Congregational Church. We are an Open and Affirming Congregation with a growing membership. Our youth are engaged and eager to contribute to our church missions. We have innovative and exciting ministries that involve both new and lifelong members of our church family. We have a wealth of history that reflects our members’ desire to make a difference! Please click one of the links below to find out more.

Children & Youth


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From newborns to graduating high schoolers, our church provides a dynamic programs with an active enrollment of children and youth. Taught by members of the congregation, our church school teaches the basic values and stories of our faith and encourages a questioning attitude on the part of students. The goals of the program are to help children claim the Christian faith as their own and instill in them the truth that they are valued by God and the community.

Our church has two youth groups for Middle School and High School aged youth. Recreation, service and faith development hallmark this important ministry.

Children & Youth News

Find us/Contact us

Address
First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
121 W. Foster Street
Melrose, MA 02176
phone: (781) 665-2111 – fax: (781) 665-8824
Office email: info@fccmelrose.org
Reverend Dominic email: revdominic121@gmail.com
Click here for all staff members email addresses
Church Office Hours
Monday through Friday 8:45 am – 1:45 pm

From Route 93 South:

  • Exit 35 “Park Street/Stoneham/Melrose” (Two exits south of Rt. 128)
  • Left at the bottom of the ramp, under Route 93, right at stop sign.
  • Continue straight through set of lights at Friendly’s
  • Road becomes two lanes at Zoo, stay left.
  • Take first left after Zoo onto Pond Street. (Don’t take the Pond Street before the zoo.)
  • Continue straight through set of lights.
  • At next set of lights, turn left onto Main Street.
  • Follow Main Street to second set of lights, turn left onto West Foster Street.
  • Church is on right after stop sign.

From Route 93 North:

  • Exit 33 “Rt. 28 Stoneham/Melrose”
  • Follow Route 28 signs staying to the right. Turn right on Elm Street.
  • Continue to rotary, “turn left” by going three quarters of the way around the rotary.
  • Road becomes two lanes, stay right.
  • Take second right after Hospital onto Pond Street. (If you go past the Zoo, you’ve gone too far.)
  • Continue straight through set of lights.
  • At next set of lights, turn left onto Main Street.
  • Follow Main Street to second set of lights, turn left onto West Foster Street.
  • Church is on right after stop sign.

From Route 1 South:

  • Exit “Essex Street, Saugus/Melrose” at Walgreen’s and Dunkin Donuts.
  • Follow Essex Street over Route 1, past Square One Mall and into Melrose.
  • Essex Street becomes Upham Street in Melrose.
  • Take left at second set of lights onto Main Street.
  • At next set of lights, turn right onto West Foster Street.
  • Church is on right after stop sign.

From Route 1 North:

  • Exit “Essex Street, Saugus/Melrose” after Square One Mall and Corners.
  • Follow Essex Street, past side of Square One Mall and into Melrose.
  • Essex Street becomes Upham Street in Melrose.
  • Take left at second set of lights onto Main Street.
  • At next set of lights, turn right onto West Foster Street.
  • Church is on right after stop sign.