First Church Berkeley UCCCommunity Subscriber
First Church is a progressive Christian church located in the heart of Berkeley right next to the UC Berkeley campus. It is radically welcoming and open to all. It has a strong commitment to justice, families, young adults, service, spiritual development.
Try the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, which is very affirming and has women ministers. FCCB is currently having services elsewhere (at Congregation Beth El) due to the fire last fall but will be moving back to its campus in a month or two.
First Church has an amazing summer program for kids during their 10 a.m. worship services all summer -- "Summer Bible Cabaret" -- where the kids learn stories about how God loves every type of person and animal and family (chosen, adopted, bio, complicated, in conflict) and get to reenact the stories in cleverly rewritten skits by their newish Young Adult Minister Kit Novotny (check her out here www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypjt-6MXJp4), get to learn songs and dances written by church musicians and choreographed by youth and taught by the church's Music Director Derek Tam, and get to build the set and props themselves. The free performance on Friday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. is open to all and a great way to check out the church and the children's programming leadership.
When the regular academic-year schedule resumes in the Fall on Sept. 25, children remain a vital part of Sunday morning's schedule. Their 9 a.m. service is casual and includes and engages children in multiple ways throughout the morning. The 10 a.m. "Middle Hour" offers a fun place for kids to be ("Middle Hour Care") with each other playing games while their parents socialize or attend adult learning hour programming. The 11 a.m. traditional service includes a dynamic "kids' moment," followed by an invitation to Sunday School classes -- nursery, preschool (play based! and crafty!), Godly Play (for Ks-3rd grade) and Introduction to Bible Class (for 4th - 6th grade).
I joined this church 3 years ago because I was looking for a place where my child could grow up in a community of people who intergenerationally believe that God loves all of us unconditionally, no matter who we are, who we love, what we've done, and how much society values us. AND I joined because I wanted a church that had programs for kids that engaged them in developing their faiths, their sense of selves, and their values throughout their lives. First Church Berkeley not only has unique and awesome summer units for kids ages 0 - 12th grade, but also awesome programs Sunday morning and in youth groups Sunday evening September through June!
And did I mention the family camp every Fall? And the youth work trip every summer? I didn't, so you should come to First church some Sunday and ask about it! Or check out fccb.org and read about these and other events that are family-friendly to an extreme!
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: children's choirs
The First Congregational Church of Berkeley has two children's choirs, one for younger grade school age, and another for older grades. Both choirs practice intermittently during the year, so it is not a lifetime commitment. In addition to preparing music to sing at the church services, they work on ear training and voice production in an age-appropriate manner. You can hear both choirs this Sunday, December 9, because it's Christmas Music Sunday. The church is in Berkeley, at Durant, Dana and Channing (enter the parking lot on Channing; it's free to churchgoers). Services start at 10:30. Louise
I can enthusiastically recommend the First Congregational Church of Berkeley at 2345 Channing Way, 848-3696, as a progressive, inclusive church with children's programs. The K-3 classes use a Montessori based program called Godly Play which de-emphasizes doctrinal teaching and emphasizes what they call wondering questions. There is also nursery care, a preschool class, and Sunday school through 12th grade, and two thriving youth groups for teens. The classrooms are beautifully kept and the program as a whole is well run. The congregation is very accepting of different faith journeys, and there is an emphasis on spiritual exploration and development. It is also an open and inclusive church, which means that people of all abilities, races, genders and sexual orientations are welcome to be (and are!) integrated fully into the life of the church.
The First Congregational Church of Berkeley is a wonderful community of people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Services are traditional and possibly more formal than you may have in mind, but the music is exceptionally good and the feeling is both relaxed and energizing. It is definitely a place where people of different religious backgrounds can find common ground and acceptance. It is also an open and affirming church, which means that all people are welcome in participate (and do) in church life, including gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, etc.
Services start at 10:00 (arrive early for the music) and run till 11:15 or so. The church is located on Dana between Channing and Durant--it's the Colonial-looking brick church. Parking may be available behind the church, or you can park for free in the UC lots in the area until 1:00. The address is 2345 Channing Way, and the phone number is 848-3696.
Re: Christmas Eve services that would appeal to teens
Regarding Christmas Eve Church Services in Berkeley, the First Congregational Church of Berkeley will do three services with superb music, candlelighting and singing. The format is fairly traditional, but the message and spirit are decidedly progressive. The 5:00 family service is for families with young children (and people who like an informal service) and features the family orchestra. The 9:00 service is followed by a cookie-and-coffee reception and caroling, which are followed by the 11:00 service. Both services are well attended by teens and families with older children. The church is located at Dana and Channing Way.