I enjoy being among the church family at First United Church, and I feel good about my two growing daughters also being a part of this liberal, inclusive congregation.???Our traditions at home are a hybrid of East and West.??My husband doesn?t have church-going as part of his heritage, as I very much do.??That?s just fine at this church, and my daughters? questions about the mixed messages they get from their parents are met respectfully.

Since we live far from our families of origin, I also appreciate that various people in the church fill family-like roles for us.???Many people, too, give admirable examples of how lives informed by the teachings of Jesus can be lived.

The girls and I have roles in the church as well.??My daughters see various jobs that are necessary to ?do church,? some of which involve them?like serving refreshments, doing yard work on the biannual work days, and helping with the younger kids?and they know about other tasks I do without them, like sitting on a board.???In the summer of ?09, they helped assemble the materials for the Godly Play curriculum that is used during the 9:30 Sunday school, and that has aided their ownership of that cycle of stories.

Because of the wide background of faith traditions that end up at First Church as well as the inter-faith collaborations that the church does, we have exposure to many viewpoints.??For example, in 2010, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day service was co-hosted by Bethel AME Church and our church with the two choirs singing together and the ministers all sharing the pulpit.??My older daughter was among those who read aloud excerpts from ?Letter from Birmingham Jail.????For another example, in August of 2012, we shared a potluck with the Sikh community and learned more about that religion.??My 12-year-old made two friends similarly wearing braces on their teeth, while at another table, I enjoyed conversation with my dining companions, noting many similarities in the tenets of their brand of Sikhism and our brand of Christianity.

I was confirmed in a Michigan United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation at age 14 and have been a regular attender at six other UCC-affiliated churches after subsequent moves within and between five states.??I like the ?united and uniting? philosophy of the UCC, exemplified at First United Church by the merger of a UCC house church with an established Baptist congregation four decades ago.

When a move brought our family back to Bloomington in 2009 after six years away, I came to this church because I had many friends here already whom I?d met through the Center for University Ministry, a small ecumenical entity where I used to go.??The Center had folded, and many regulars from there now were at First United.??One, Sam, was an usher the first Sunday we came.??He recognized me, welcomed me, and dropped me a line that week.??Several women friends came to say hello to the girls and me after the service.?In the middle of the hug-fest, I nearly hugged one of the smiling women standing there whom I then realized I didn?t actually know.?She was just coming to say hello since we have kids the same ages, and one of hers is adopted from China like mine are.??We?ve gone on to be excellent friends, and we laugh now about that near hug.

So friends and the UCC-affiliation were what brought me to First United, but it?s the preaching, friendliness within the church, and outreach into the community that keep me coming back.??I?ve heard around 2000 sermons in my life, and some of the best have been at this church.??I like the ease and yet professionality with which Caela and Jack conduct themselves at the front of the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

I also like the music.??Hymns lyrics often highlight the service?s themes incredibly well, and I like mulling over the fit as we sing them.

So, all in all, I feel well-nourished by Sunday services for doing the week ahead?s work, and that?s why I am happy to have First United Church as my church home.