First Congregational United Church of Christ
ABOUT OUR CHURCH
Welcome! At First Congregational United Church of Christ, we are about welcoming everyone, no matter where you are on your journey. If you have been looking for a community of faith that engages your mind, imagination, heart, and hands, in making a positive difference in our community, or would like your children to grow in their understanding of faith; then please check us out here on our website and join in on the activities we have going on at our church!
OUR OPEN AND AFFIRMING STATEMENT
“We are an inclusive and diverse community of faith, connected by the teachings of Jesus, that call us to accept and love everyone just as they are, regardless of age, race, gender, physical or mental challenges, financial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to build a just world for all, and to serve our community.”
Meets on Sunday before Worship at 9:30 am.
On Zoom and in person.
This is an interactive series for adults and older youth led by our Intergenerational Education Coordinator, Todd Siefker. Each session is designed to introduce us to ancient and modern Christ-like examples of faithful living. The goal is to will become more like those we admire.
Sunday Worship 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Adult Study 9:30 a.m.
For all other activities, click on the Straight to the Point page
Trinity Sunday “Living in the Community of the Trinity.”
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Though the word trinity is not found in the scriptures, today’s second reading includes the apostolic greeting that begins the liturgy: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. In the gospel Jesus sends his disciples forth to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More than a doctrine, the Trinity expresses the heart of our faith: we have experienced the God of creation made known in Jesus Christ and with us always through the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity in word and sacrament, as we profess the Creed, and as we are sent into the world to bear witness to our faith.
Pride Month Begins.
June 1 is the beginning of Pride Month. As ONA Congregation #1800, First Congregational United Church of Christ will be well-represented at the Pride activities in Sioux City this year. On Thursday, June 1, we will have an entry in the Pride Parade. Those planning to be part of the parade should meet at the Long Lines Parking Lot at 5:00 PM. There we will get our assignment and a safety guest.
The Pride Festival is on Saturday, June 3. We will have a space at the Siouxland Pride Alliance gathering. Those who want to help set up a space should plan to be at 4th and Nebraska by 9:00 AM.
What Does the Bible Say about Homosexuality? For the last two decades, Pew Research Center has reported that one of the most enduring ethical issues across Christian traditions is sexual diversity. For many Christians, one of the most frequently first-asked question on this topic is, “What does the Bible say about attraction to someone of the same sex?”
Although it’s unlikely that biblical authors had any notion of sexual orientation (for example, the term homosexual wasn’t even coined until the late 19th century) for many people of faith, the Bible is looked to for timeless guidance on what it means to honor God with our lives; and this most certainly includes our sexuality.
For Christian to whom the Bible is God’s very written word, it is widely understood that God produced its contents through inspired human authors to tell the story of God’s creation, how sin entered the world, and the redemption that is found through Jesus Christ and his salvation.
Whenever any person opens the Bible, they begin a process of interpretation. Individuals attracted to others of the same sex are regularly told they are ‘elevating’ their experience over Scripture when they come to affirming conclusions about their relationships and identities. They are often told this is a direct rejection of the Bible’s authority in their lives. But the question is begged, is this a fair and accurate assessment? Are there such things as neutral interpretations? Is there one true or correct way to interpret the Bible, and if so, who determines that?
The study of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics and helps us to address these kinds of questions. Hermeneutics is what we do when we take a text and ask not just “what does this say,” but “what does this mean?” In asking, “What does the Bible about homosexuality” (or most appropriately stated, “what does the Bible say about attraction to someone of the same sex,”) our task is to explore what the relevant bible passages on the topic meant in their original context and what they mean for us today. More specifically, we are seeking to determine if the biblical writers were condemning specific practices related to sexuality in the ancient world, or were they indeed condemning all same-sex relationships of any kind for the rest of time?
For most evangelicals and other conservative Christians, the answer to this question is “yes”. Their interpretation is that same-sex relationships are not able to reflect God’s creative intent. Their reasoning includes 1) what they were always taught was an “unbiased” interpretation of the relevant passages and 2) a core belief that sex differentiation is an indispensable part of Christian marriage. The second part had tremendous importance, because according to the New Testament, marriage is a primary symbol of the love between Christ and his beloved “bride,” the Church. To them, same-sex couples (and single people for that matter) are uniquely excluded from participation in this symbol on the basis of a failure to perform one or more dimensions of an often-vague category referred to as “gender complimentarity.”
While gender complimentarity is indeed rooted in passages from Genesis 1 and 2, it is worth noting that these stories say God began by creating human beings male and female (define as the complex result of combinations between chromosomes, gonads, genes, and genitals) but there is nothing that indicate in Scripture that God only created this binary. This account says little to nothing about gender, the social and cultural norms and practices corresponding to what is considered masculine and feminine. Two dimensions of the text that come important in considering the biblical affirmation of intersex, transgender, non-binary, and other gender diverse people. To further complicate the argument against same-sex relationships, Scripture doesn’t suggest that respecting biblical authority means Christians should reject experience as a teacher. In fact, when Jesus said in the Sermon the Mount about good trees bearing good fruits and bad tree bearing bad fruit in Matthew 7:17-18, this indicates experience should inform how we learn God’s truth. This was what allowed the first Christians to decide to include gentiles who were not keeping the Old Testament law in the early Church (Acts 15:1-19). It also was the basis for the Christian arguments that put an end to slavery and has supported movements for women’s equality throughout church history as well.
The call to reform Christian teaching in these instances didn’t suggest that human experience should be held over Scripture. What they did suggest was that the obvious exclusion, injustice, and destructive outcomes of widely held beliefs should take Christians back to the text to a consider a different perspective, one which might better reflect the heart of God.
For these reasons and more, Christians have a moral imperative to reconsider their interpretation of what the Bible says about LGBTQ+ identities.
While the six passage that address same-sex eroticism in the ancient world are negative about the practices they mention, there is no evidence that these in any way speak to the same-sex relationships of love and mutuality. To the contrary, the amount of cultural, historical, and linguistic data surrounding how sexuality in the cultures of the biblical authors operated demonstrate that what was being condemned in the Bible is very different that the committed same-sex partnership we know and see today. The stories of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) and the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19) are about sexual violence and the Ancient Near East’s stigma toward violating male honor. The injunction that “man must not lie with man” (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13) coheres with the context of a society anxious about their health, continuing family lineages, and retaining the distinctiveness of Israel as a nation. Each time the New Testament addresses the topic in a list of vices (1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10), the argument being made is more than likely about the sexual exploitation of young men by older men, a practice called pederasty, and what we read in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is a part of a broader indictment against idolatry and excessive, self-centered lust that is driven by desire to “consume” rather than to love and to serve as outlined for Christian partnership elsewhere in the Bible. While it is likely that Jews and Christians in the 1st century had little to no awareness of a category like sexual orientation, this doesn’t mean that the biblical authors were wrong. What it does mean, at a minimum, is that continued opposition toward same-sex relationships and LGBTQ+ identities must be based on something other than these biblical texts, which brings us back to a theology of Christian marriage or partnership.
While the work to undo the decades-long, dominant, and exclusionary interpretations of these passages is important, its emphasis over and against the affirming dimensions of Christian theology for LGBTQ+ people has stifled exploration of a deeper meaning of sexuality for everyone. From Genesis 2 to Matthew 19, to Ephesians 5, what these passages make explicit (and is echoed throughout the rest of Scripture) is something mentioned earlier: marriage is sacred for Christians because it can represent the enduring love between Christ and the Church. Christian partnership creates an opportunity to live out God’s love. While some kind of difference seems to be important in embodying this metaphor, understanding that all our differences can lead to empathy, compassion, good listening, sacrifice, and what it means to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” there is scant evidence that it is our biology or our views of gender that are the required difference. Anyone who has ever been in an intimate relationship of any kind can testify to the range of differences (and resulting conflicts) that are an inherent part of any two personalities attempting to integrate their lives. And remember, those who are not married but are not LGBTQ+, like single people or people whose spouses have passed, are embraced as Christians. The larger point here is that God’s design for Christian partnership is about reflecting the truest and sweetest love that anyone could know; that is the self-giving, ever-enduring, liberating love between God and creation made possible for us through Christ. A tall order, but nevertheless something countless LGBTQ+ individuals and couples have been living into and continue to live into today.
All things considered, it is important to remember that throughout church history, new information about people and the world have frequently led Christians to reconsider their beliefs. This need not be a reason to distrust Scripture, but rather should serve as an invitation to wrestle with the contexts of the biblical writers and our own lived experiences. As it stands today, there are millions of faithful Christians around the world who have come to recognize the work of God in and through the relationships of LGBTQ+ people. As New Testament Scholar Daniel Kirk (former Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA who was fired for this stance toward same-sex marriage and how the Gospels portray Christ) has pointed out, Christians today would do well by the tradition of the apostles and our current witness in the world to recognize that theological abstractions aside, God has already clearly embraced LGBTQ+ people into full communion, and it is now the church’s responsibility to simply honor that reality and rejoice. (Luke 15).
Church Office Hours
Pastor's Office Hours
Monday 9am-12pm, 1pm-4pm
Thursday 9am-12pm, 1pm-4pm
Please fill out the New Church Directory Info Form available below. Completed forms can be sent it to our Church Administrator Michael at our church email -email@example.com
If you haven't filled out our surveys, please take a few minutes to take our survey and survey on spirituality here online.
Fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks in church. We will continue to Live Stream services on Facebook and YouTube streamed live at 10:30a.m. every Sunday morning. You can also find our past services to watch on our page.