First Congregational Church  of Rochester

      Open and Affirming local church of the

United Church of Christ

1315 N. Pine Street, Rochester, MI 48307

Phone 248-651-6225

Join us for our in person Sunday service or live on YouTube at 10 a.m.





You’ve felt the mysterious presence of God during worship, the Spirit has touched you through the ministry of the congregation, and you feel yourself trying harder to follow Jesus.

What next?

In the United Church of Christ, after you have been worshipping at a church for a while, we ask you to consider joining the church. See the FAQ section to the right to learn more.



If you do become a member of this congregation, you will be joining a church that is part of a denomination called the United Church of Christ, founded in 1957 but made up of churches that have been around a lot longer than that, going back to the first Pilgrims in America in 1620.

The UCC is known for its welcoming stance toward all people. You can see that goes back a long way when you read the list of things we did first. Click the "About Us" button below to learn more:

Is this a church you could be a part of?

Perhaps you are ready to join this congregation. Perhaps you have been led here to this church to worship. Perhaps you have been led here to take a step to join. If you have… welcome home, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.



What does ‘joining the church’ mean?

In our tradition, joining the church matters. We have people stand up in front of the church during Sunday worship and make promises about their commitment to God and to this faith community. To prepare for that event, there might be a newcomer’s orientation or a New Member class advertised. Perhaps you may meet with the Pastor or with a group of current church members. And then you would become a member one Sunday during worship. Why the big deal?

In the UCC, there is no hierarchy that tells the churches what to do and how to behave. We talk about having a “priesthood of all believers,” which means that all of us do ministry. The congregation is the heart of all that.

When you join a church, you become a voting member of the church. Members vote on the church’s budget each year, they vote on which of the members should serve as key leaders, and they even vote on whether or not to call a new pastor. There are important practical issues associated with being a member.

What about voting on those pastors?

In some Christian faith traditions, pastors get assigned to a church, but not here. In the UCC, a search team made up of church members seeks through prayer and discernment to find the right minister. After they do, that minister comes to worship with the congregation and then all the members get to vote to call that person. Being a church member is an important and meaningful responsibility.

So it’s just a matter of determining who gets to vote on stuff?

No, it’s about much more than that. We have people stand up and join the church during worship because this is a prayerful place and worshipful act. You will experience the real power in that moment, when you tell people around you and God that this is now your spiritual home.

When you join, you make a connection, you join a community. The Bible’s word for that is “covenant.” When you join, you make a covenant. A covenant is an exchange of holy promises. In making a covenant we promise to serve God together. So it’s not just new members who join the church. Rather, everyone – new members and existing members – joins one another. As we make our promises to one another we remember God’s promises to us and promise to serve God as best we are able. In the Bible God makes covenants with people all the time. Since we believe that God is still speaking, we still believe that the holy promises we make to each other matter. This is a significant decision.

What about my old church, or the church I grew up in? Am I replacing them when I join a new church? In joining a church, am I saying something about my past?

When new members join the church, we often give thanks for every place that has been your spiritual home. When you join a church, you do so at one moment in time, and that does not take the place of any other church. When you join a church, you are not saying that this church surpasses all others. But you are saying that while you are here, you will be an active part of this congregation.

“By your baptism, you were made one with us, in the body of Christ, the church. Today, we rejoice in the pilgrimage of faith which has brought you to this time and place. We give thanks for every community of faith that has been your spiritual home, and we celebrate your presence in this household of faith.” – from Book of Worship – United Church of Christ

I don’t get why I would need to join the church. Isn’t it fine to simply come to worship?

Of course you can come to worship. Worship is open to everybody, at any time, and you can worship in all sorts of places, not just this church. Joining the church is different from worshipping God. You can praise God on a mountaintop or while the planes lands after a bumpy flight. You can gather a group of people in church or on a lakeshore to worship. But when you join a local church, you are saying that you have chosen this particular community of faith to be your spiritual home at this time.

When you join, you tell the community, “I’m in,” and they in turn make promises to support you on your faith journey together.

One of the things they will promise is to join you in the amazing adventure of prayer. You will now be a part of something larger than yourself and your own private journey.

Oh, please don’t make me stand up there in front of everybody…

Sometimes people ask why they can’t just “sign up” to join the church as you would for a health club or some other organization. Instead we ask people to join as a part of worship. Why do we do that?

Well, it’s not to torture shy people.

Here’s the reason: the worshipping community matters. It’s not just about you making promises; the church members make promises to you as well. It wouldn’t make any sense to make joining a community a private matter, would it? You really won’t be on your own.

And speaking of private, this isn’t just a private event for human beings only.

We believe without a doubt that God is present, and particularly so during our most important community event, Sunday morning worship. We have members join the church publicly, and during worship, because this is a prayerful and meaningful act, not just for you but for all of us.

We may invoke that mighty cloud of witnesses – all those generations that have gone before us, and join us in eternal community that stretches beyond time and space. You are joining with a community that may have begun long before you were born and will continue long after, if not in this world, then certainly in God’s heart.

So, it’s not like joining a gym?

When you want to get in shape, you don’t have to stand up and make promises in front of everyone at the gym. (And thank goodness for that.) At the gym you’re signing up to receive certain services, to use the equipment and to receive advice from experts, all as a part of a financial transaction. We call that a culture of membership.

But when you join a church, you’re not just on the receiving end, but on the giving end as well. You are promising to do more than show up and use the facilities. Will you hold other people in prayer and in love? Will you make a contribution to the community by volunteering as you are able and financially? And let’s be clear, you are considering doing all of this because somewhere in your journey, you sensed that there was more to this life than what you see in front of you. You sense that God is still speaking.

You will make a difference and the church will be different because you have joined it. As we grow and change together, in a community centered not on ourselves but on God, we call this a culture of discipleship.

And what about those fees?

No one will send you a bill in the mail. You will want to make a regular financial contribution to God’s work in your church. People often ask how much to give. We don’t answer that question for you. But we do encourage you to make it a portion, a percentage, of your income, rather than just a number. When you take the brave step of choosing to give a percentage away, rather than just a number, when your income goes up or down, you gift does, too, but your commitment remains steady. That’s a great feeling.

Okay, what percentage, then?

The Bible encourages us to give 10% of what we have away. Some give it all to the church, others divined that money among different causes that are all doing God’s healing work. Many people set the goal of 10%, as something to work toward.

Allow your giving to develop as your spiritual life develops. Pray, increase a percentage point every year or start out at a high percentage in the hope that you’ll never miss what you give away regularly.

We do believe that everyone can give, though. Even the smallest amount of money given away reminds us that we have all received.

We also believe that in giving, we find greater joy that we can ever find in receiving. Happiness does not come from the stuff we accumulate. Joy and fulfillment come in serving and giving to others. The early church learned that from Jesus and from the Jewish tradition, and we trust in that same generosity today.

What else am I agreeing to when I join a church?

You will be asked to participate fully in the life of the church through worship and serving others.

Worship is the heart of what we do as a faith community.

It is what sends us out to do other things, and restores us when the world has diminished our spirits. Always keep worship at the top of your commitments. And should some situation make it impossible to be with your church physically, stay connected with prayer, and in service.

Serving others is a part of the deal, as you are able.

Local churches have all sorts of traditions around volunteering. You may be needed to serve in the congregation, or they may need you to serve God in the world. We can be the hands and feet of Christ wherever we are, but in joining, you commit to add your gifts and talents to the unique pool of gifts that keeps this community of faith going. That could lead you to hand out worship bulletins on a Sunday morning, cook for the sick and the hungry, lead a youth group or serve on a board for the United Church of Christ.

Life is fragile. One year you may be making meals for someone recovering from surgery, the next year you may be in need of those meals yourself. But over a lifetime, we can all minister to one another in beautiful ways when we are a part of a faith community.