Our Missions

First Congregational United Church of Christ, Ypsilanti, a small congregation holds true to an action oriented ministry model. Our church believes it is called to actively and purposefully live out the teachings of Jesus in our daily ministries despite budgetary and human resources constraints. With this guiding priority we do church differently!

The Beacon Center is Ypsilanti First Congregational UCC’s newest community social justice ministry. As a light to all persons, the Beacon Center’s ministry will support the spiritual formation, creative expression, overall thriving, and advocacy of at-risk students of all ages, including those affiliated with three primary local institutions of higher learning: Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and The University of Michigan. In the Spirit of the UCC motto, “That They All Shall Be One,” Beacon Center serves as a

uniting and unifying umbrella ministry across our congregation, serving persons sourced through our three other community social justice ministry networks which focus on serving immigrants (WICIR-Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights), the LGBTQ

community (UCC MI ONA Coalition), and labor and community organization (WeROCWashtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition).

The Beacon Center is committed to advocating for the self-determination and education of all people, especially those students living in poverty, persons of color experiencing racism, and other de-humanizing circumstances and conditions. Beacon Center’s student demographics include: persons of color, immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ folk, women, those with special needs, the economically disadvantaged, those facing housing insecurity, the financially challenged, and the working poor. For additional information on the Beacon Center, please contact Rev. Liz Larrivee at lizlarrivee@gmail.com

Jesus challenges us to minister to our neighbors, especially the marginalized. Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) was born 10 years ago in response to brutal raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting an immigrant community. People were beaten, children were traumatized and families were separated. We were called to respond. WICIR has responded to over 760 requests for assistance and support by those whose lives have been affected by immigration raids resulting in detainment and deportation of hundreds of individuals, permanently separating children from their parents. Contact Melanie Harner (melharner@gmail.com)

To respond to a family in crisis we:

~Provide trained bilingual urgent response teams who interview the family;

~Send an attorney to the facility where the detainee is being held;

~Provide material aid for the family’s immediate needs. i.e., food, shelter, infant/child supplies and partial financial assistance for legal assistance.

We created the Michigan Open & Affirming Coalition of UCC Churches. A New Denominational Outreach ministry for the state wide UCC to strengthen the partnering of experienced ONA churches with aspiring congregations for consultation, resource provision, encouragement and lessons learned. A member of our congregation has deep connections in the local LGBT community and supportive institutions, and a passion for working toward policies including minimizing bullying and discarding of gay and marginalized people, especially youth. Contact Wayne Burling for more information (wburling@gmail.com)

“First Congregational is a co-founding institution of the new local “organization of organizations” WeROC (Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition). In many ways, WeROC is a larger illustration of the values and mission we try to live out at First Congregational. The diverse faith congregations and labor and community organizations that make up WeROC are, at our core, focused on intentionally reweaving the frayed fabric of community — at a time when forces are at work every day to keep us fragmented, suspicious of each other, feeling isolated and on our own. We are showing by example that people from many backgrounds and perspectives can, even today, come together in powerful ways around our common values and actually change unjust public policies. WeROC is a part of the S.E. Michigan organization MOSES and the national Gamaliel Foundation. See Tad Wysor (tadwysor@gmail.com, 734 883 3225) for more on how First Congregational is connecting with current WeROC issues and actions.