Each of the six First Church priorities are meant to serve as concrete ways that we seek to authentically live out Christ's commandment to love all people. Loving our neighbor is not always easy and takes effort, sacrifice, and courage. It is our hope and commitment that the people of First Church will exhibit these priorities through consistent actions as we worship, grow, and serve together.
Hospitality is one of the most emphasized themes within our Holy Scriptures. Whether we are talking about Abraham entertaining angels unaware, or Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, hospitality is highlighted as an example of living out Christ's instruction to love one another as we have been loved. Peter reminds us that we are to show hospitality to the stranger, and the Old Testament reminds us to show love and hospitality to the foreigner in our own land, for we once were foreigners in another land. Literally, in the Bible we are taught that there is absolutely no person that we aren't supposed to welcome and love. For the people of First Church, hospitality is our way of saying we value the life of every child of God and welcome all into our community of faith.
At First Church we value our differences and recognize that God created every one of us uniquely. Not only do we all look different and think differently, but we also have different experiences and heritages. We come with different perspectives and follow different paths to First Church. Your life experiences, race, sexual identity, economic status, education, and theology are all part of what makes you uniquely you. We learn the most from people who aren't like us, and the world is a better place if we seek to understand and learn from each other. The Apostle Paul reminds us that the "eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you,' nor can the head say to the foot, 'I don't need you." We are more complete, more whole, when we value our differences and work together for a better world.
The life we are called to live as a follower of Jesus isn't a convenient life. If we choose to follow the example of Christ then we can no longer turn a blind eye to the injustices suffered by the less powerful and disenfranchised in our society. We are not only called to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves, we are also called to live a life that isn't complicit with the injustices. This is a difficult thing for most of us, because doing justice is often messy. Rarely are the issues clearly one sided, and we are called to seek justice in a way that expresses love to all parties. Sometimes we have to live a life where we love someone too much to allow them to continue to live a destructive life or take advantage of their brother and sister. As we are seeking to help our brothers and sisters, we also have to make sure we don't become the very thing we are trying to stop. The first step in doing justice is to remove the proverbial log from our own eye, and then to compassionately work on the world around us.
If Jesus said, "The truth shall set you free," then why do church people wear so many false masks? We invite you to leave your "church face" behind and come as you are when you come to First Church. You don't do anyone a favor when you act like you believe something you don't, or pretend you feel better than you really do. It is impossible to accurately care for one another if we don't know what is going on with each other. We also cannot grow in our faith if what we say we believe is propped up by pretense. Our faith needs to be real if what we believe is to stand in midst of life's storms.
Creating an Inclusive Community
First Church is an Open Place for ALL. All means all. Whoever you are, you will be welcomed and wanted at First Church. We want you to be a part of our community of faith. Rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, unsure, Christian, searching, suburbanite, city dweller, happy, sad, young, experienced, cautious, bold, wounded, healing... however you might describe yourself, there is a place for you at First Church. We believe that God loves you, and you are already a part of God's community of faith. All are welcome and included at First Church.
Embracing Tough Questions
For everyone, there are times when life is hard - times when the cliche and bumper-sticker answers are insufficient in the shadows of the larger questions of life. There are times when the questions we are struggling with, whether personally or communally, seem too dangerous and divisive for a church to address. Yet, if these really are our struggles and questions, then how could the church not address these issues? Our faith is not meant to be compartmentalized into only safe areas, on the contrary, our faith is most important in the areas where we struggle. First Church seeks to bring our toughest questions into the light of open conversation and public worship. We will not dodge the tough questions of life, we will address them with the courage to faithfully stand with you in the midst of genuine the struggle. For, we recognize that it is through dealing with, and not avoiding, the tough questions that life presents that road ahead becomes more clear.
ABOUT OUR CHURCH
An historic church in the heart of downtown Birmingham, First Church Birmingham is an open place for ALL to worship, grow, and serve. We are a diverse congregation made up of people from all over the Birmingham metro area and beyond.
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First Church Birmingham
518 19th St North
Birmingham, AL 35203
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