FAQ: Should I make FSA my new church home?
As part of your research, go to the United Church of Canada's website; browse a little and think a little. Then talk to others who are already members of a United Church and discover why they joined. You might be surprised at the variety of answers you get. Members come to this denomination for a great many reasons and usually feel accepted here for just who they are. Many are first generation members. That's not surprising since the UCC has only been around since 1925 when it was created from Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist roots. That ancestry has proven to be good "DNA" for spiritual growth for United Church as a whole and now, possibly, for you too.
Is First-St. Andrew's the right United Church for me?
OK — so now you think that the United Church might be a good fit for you. Which United Church should you try out? The United Church represents the largest Protestant denomination in Canada but that doesn't mean that all the churches in our family have an identical approach to worship. You will find quite a variety among United Churches even here in London.
Our tag line, "Where liberal theology meets the best of tradition," is meant to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of theology if you visit here on a Sunday morning. Here's what that means in terms of our beliefs:
Briefly put, we are a church which values tradition — especially in worship and music. We are slightly formal, which might feel old-fashioned to some — but we find a comfort and strength in this dignified kind of worship. In theology, though, we are surprisingly liberal. We have welcomed gay and lesbian members in our community for decades, and are now a designated Affirming Congregation within the United Church of Canada. We see ourselves as part of the Progressive Christianity movement*, which explores the liberal end of the theological spectrum. Like most United Churches, we have a continuum of beliefs represented in the pews, from conservative to post-Christian - but the majority of us are small 'l' liberal Christians. We take the Bible seriously, but not literally, and try to live our lives as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, in a world where we recognize that God is worshiped well in many different faith traditions. By being faithful to our own we celebrate them all. We believe this thinking is also reflected in our mission statement:
First-St. Andrew's United Church: an inclusive Christian family encouraging spiritual growth through worship, friendship, learning and action.
*Liberal, or progressive Christianity, is a movement that values the questions of faith, the biblical scholarship of people like Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, and preaches respect for other faith traditions. Try Googling these three theologians to see what we mean.
What do you offer for families and youth?
Check out the "Ministries" button on the menu at the top of this page to find out about all of our programs for children and young people. We have a staffed nursery for each Sunday morning service and Sunday School runs during the service. Our Youth Group usually meets simultaneously with the service and they frequently hold special events during the week.
Have you made provision for those who are differently abled?
We have tried our best to eliminate barriers that might be a problem for those who want to join us. FSA is fully wheelchair and scooter accessible. An elevator at the Atrium entrance can get you quickly and safely to the public areas of the church. Assistive hearing devices are available from the ushers. Parking directly behind the church is set aside especially for those with mobility issues.
Where does FSA stand in regard to LGBTQ issues?
We hope you noticed that word "inclusive" in our Mission Statement up above. This word is there to remind all who may feel left out at times that they are welcome at FSA. For example, we have an active LGBTQ committee which is always seeking to honour the spiritual and social needs of this group. We regularly have a contingent of FSA people who march in London's annual Pride Parade to publicly show their support and we host a Pride Day picnic each summer on our front lawn. In 2014 we received the "Affirming Ministry" designation of the United Church of Canada. Take a peak at our Vision Statement. It says it all. We want First-St. Andrew's to feel like "home" for everyone who chooses to come through our doors.