We are pleased to welcome you safely back into the sanctuary for in-person worship! Pre-registration is required. Please follow the unique link in your weekly Messenger, which typically publishes on Tuesdays, or click on Worship & Music tab above to view the registration link.
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!
Audio and VIDEO Updates
Here’s a great way to check in: Reverend Dominic is posting regular updates to connect with the congregation. You can find these under the “AUDIO & VIDEO MESSAGES” tab at the top menu on any of our website pages.
Mariko’s music recordings
Want to experience our music ministry from home? Please go to the tab “WORSHIP AND MUSIC” at the top menu to listen to recordings made by our music director, Mariko Matsumura. You can view Videos posted on our private friends-and-members Facebook page, the Virtual Narthex of First Congregational Church in Melrose UCC.
When we began our move to in-person worship this fall, we committed to evaluating this in late November. After much discussion among our Deacons of Worship, Senior Deacons, and staff we have decided to suspend in-person worship for the time being.
The main reason for this decision is the rising cases of Covid 19 as fall ends and we head into the winter. There have also been logistical challenges in arranging for pre-registered, in-person worship (extra staff and volunteers) while the ability and willingness of parishioners to attend has understandably been minimal.
Our hope is to have sign-ups available to attend worship on Christmas Eve after which we will make a further determination on the best and safest course of action with regard to in-person worship in the New Year.
Thank you to everyone for your patience and understanding! Our live streaming worship services on YouTube and MMTV in Melrose will continue as usual.
This Sunday begins our Advent journey toward Bethlehem and Christmas.
Like everything else this year, Advent will feel different.
The same challenges will be with us that were there on Thanksgiving: An inability to gather in large numbers, not feeling safe in public places including church, and squeezing the last drop out of yet another bottle of hand sanitizer.
Some things, of course, will be the same. Christmas trees will go up along with many decorations and lights. Our live streaming services will anchor the season and help you remember the true meaning and spirit of this important time of year.
In some ways, I think our inability to do things “normally” during this Advent and Christmas season can be a good thing. That is because the way we “normally” do things can keep us from the core purpose of Advent and the deep meaning of Christmas.
Think about it: the old normal had us rushing around and out of breath for the entire month of December. Maybe that won’t happen so much this year. We took for granted the back and forth family visits—sometimes looking forward to them, sometimes dreading them. Now, in their absence, we can more fully appreciate how important those visits really are.
The crush of the season’s old normal kept us from any consistent, private devotions or family worship. Maybe this year, that can take center stage.
God is with us in whatever ways this holiday season will look different. God is with us, especially, as we pray for too many who have fallen ill with Covid 19 and everyone whose lives have been altered by this pandemic.
One thing I expect to see this year is the Joseph and Mary statues in public nativity scenes sporting masks. In all honesty, I can’t think of a better symbol of the season. It will certainly be a great visual reminder that God is right next to us in the midst of this on-going pandemic and all of the instability that it brings.
Advent this year will be a wonderful way to remember that into the midst of uncertainty, suffering, and worry—Christ is Born.
Nothing can change that.
Have you heard of QAnon?
I have been aware of it over the past couple of years as a kind of right wing background noise, but it is only recently that it has adopted stronger Christian overtones.
Whenever that happens, I see it as an invitation to comment!
QAnon began in 2017 when an anonymous internet poster named “Q” began posting messages on 4 Chan; an internet site that the Guardian newspaper described as “lunatic, juvenile … brilliant, ridiculous and alarming.” It is a site known for pranks, harassment, attacks against other websites and Internet users, and the posting of illegal content, threats of violence, misogyny and racism.
“Q,” assumed to be a single person, claims to have access to secret government files which detail a satanic cult among Washington democrats and Hollywood elites. This cult is responsible for a large, well organized child sex ring. Thanks to the efforts of Donald Trump, this cabal is being held in check but all of his attempts to dismantle the sex ring are met with attacks by liberals protecting this demonic, secret society.
Obviously, none of this is based in fact.
But that doesn’t stop the QAnon movement from growing. Trump rallies regularly feature QAnon signage and supporters. The online presence of QAnon has grown substantially during the pandemic: up by 175% on Facebook (before being banned) and 63% on Twitter, according to a British source.
And, more recently, QAnon has metastasized into the evangelical, Christian church.
“Q Drops,” messages posted by Q, are often viewed as quasi sacred texts that are picked up by followers to help recruit Christians to “Save the Children.” Of course, everyone wants to save children and those who respond to this group’s efforts to do so soon find themselves descending a rabbit hole of nationalism, Christianity, the promise of spiritual knowledge and the primacy of scripture, and, finally, the desire to evangelize to friends and family.
For those who follow QAnon, Q Drops are sacred texts and Donald Trump is a messianic figure who will conjure an apocalyptic “Storm” that will reveal the “deep state” of evil.
QAnon would be frightening on its own but the fact that it has become legitimized is even more frightening.
QAnon is a consequence of our truth-starved culture that churns out social media echo chambers for the ignorant. It feeds people’s deep seated, unfounded fears and then offers a cause, a community, a sense of belonging and a movement to fight those identified as responsible for those fears.
To anyone who has studied the origins of 1930’s nationalism in Western Europe and the rise of fascism, this should be alarmingly familiar.
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.
Join us weekly at 10 am for worship
Join us in-person Sundays at 10 am (by pre-registration), or live on MMTV and YouTube at 10 am.
All links to services can be found here: https://fccmelrose.org/our-worship-and-music-ministry/