The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action. With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world. The UCC is a church of firsts, ordaining the first African American pastor in 1805, ordaining the first woman pastor in 1853 and ordaining the first openly gay pastor in 1972. We are a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where "…they may all be one" (John 17:21).
First Congregational Church of Montclair follows in that tradition. Our founding members were abolitionists who fought to erradicate slavery and our membership continued to include those who struggled for women's sufferage, civil rights and LGBTQ rights. We began in 1869 when 30 people gathered with the aim of creating a new congregation in Montclair. Responding to the need for racial justice following the Civil War, they chose for their first pastor the Rev. Amory Bradford, a young, passionate minister who was an outspoken advocate for abolition in New England. From the very beginning, Rev. Bradford focused the congregation out into the community. He envisioned a church where “the doors are never closed; which is glad in the spirit of Christ to go about doing good; and which finds it’s joy in continuing Christ’s ministry to all sorts and conditions of people.” Under Bradford’s leadership FCC became a force for social change in Montclair, establishing many aid programs for immigrants, orphans, and the working poor.
That committment to social justice and the radical welcome of Jesus continues today. Although we may look different than that 19th century congregation, we embody the same values of compassion, inclusion, justice and dignity that Amory Bradford proclaimed.