Core Ideology = Core Values + Core Purpose

This past Saturday, August 13, many of our elected leaders (members of permanent boards and Church Council) gathered to discover and articulate our identity as First United Church and vision for our future together. While we are still working on our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (a tangible, energizing, highly focused, unifying focal point of effort that acts as a catalyst for team spirit and requires thinking beyond the current capabilities of the congregation and the current environment) as we allow the conversations and images and dreams shared to simmer a bit longer (it is hard work thinking, dreaming, visioning 20 years into the future!), the group of 15 came to enthusiastic consensus on our core ideology/identity. Our core ideology is made up of two parts that are always in relationship with one another: our core values and our core purpose.

CORE VALUES are those principles and tenets that guide all we do and how we exist in the world. We started from the individual level, considering what values each of us brings to this community (because WE are the church), and then moved to the corporate/community level. And, through conversation and thoughtful consideration, we uncovered five core values of First United:

  • Community of love and acceptance
  • Faith and teachings of Jesus: truth, justice, and peace
  • Openness and Diversity
  • Seeking creative expression of our faith
  • Living our faith through service to humanity and the world

Then we asked and sought to answer the question: why do we exist? That is, what is our CORE PURPOSE? Rather than asking this question flat out, small groups began with the statement: We engage in X ministry. (Each group had to pick a different ministry to explore.) And, then ask: why is this important? Once they answered that question, they were invited to ask it again and again in an effort to go deeper and deeper to the core of why we offer fellowship, why we engage in educational ministries, why we invest in children’s faith formation (the three starting points chosen by the separate groups).

As the groups shared the end points they had reached through their exploration, it was inspiring to witness that each journey had uncovered the same core purpose though expressed with slightly different language. Working together, the large group consolidated the alternatively-worded statements to express First United’s core purpose as:

  • To empower, challenge, and encourage ourselves and one another to live out the ways of Jesus (rooted in compassion, truth, and justice) authentically as human beings in community to create a better world

Now it is time for the congregational musing to begin! Does this core ideology/identity ring true for you as you consider the core values and core purpose as uncovered by our elected leadership? Please share your thoughts with us by contacting our church president, Rebecca Keith (, or me (

I look forward to receiving your responses and moving forward together as we thoughtfully, intentionally, and faithfully live out our identity as First United Church.



Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister

pronouns: she, her, hers


Cell: 812-727-4414