First Congregational Church began as a safe house for runaway slaves during the Civil war as part of the underground railroad. It has been a church that has been an advocate for Christian justice and witness and mission ever since. We are known as a community minded church with great priorities to service, mission, advocacy, music and youth. The church established a two way street coffee house as a way to minister to a great divide among our nations young people during the 60’s. The coffee house, through music, and meals and housing reached out to provide a place where young people could engage their faith through music and talk about the changes that were taking place in the world around them. We are an Open and Affirming congregation in the United Church of Christ where all God’s people are valued as children of God and invited into full participation into the life and joy of Jesus Christ as part of this family of faith. We are a congregation of approximately 650 members. We take seriously a UCC mantra to work towards unity in Diversity. We are a diverse congregation in terms of theological upbringing, socio economic status and vocation, orientation, and race. We are mostly Caucasian with most of our diversity being socio-economic white and blue collar. We seek to be a church that lives out its Christian life in our community through service in Christ’s love.
Downers Grove is mostly Caucasian 88%, African American 3%, Hispanic 5%. 4% other. We do have several Hispanic families and are involved heavily in immigration reform and help with both documented and undocumented immigrants. The population of Downers Grove is approximately 49,000. 51% have a college degree. 95% have graduated high school.
This position would offer a little bit of everything to give a seminarian a diverse immersion into life in the church. It would be our hope that they would regularly participate in worship as liturgist and also to have regular (monthly to bi-monthly depending on the student and where they were in school and focus of their calling) opportunities to preach. It would involve planning and leading youth ministry for our high school and junior high school students. We would be open to an adult Christian education opportunity or bible study as well as pastoral visitation and hospital visits.
Downers Grove - Main Street is a stop on the BNSF rail line from Chicago to Aurora. The church is a five minute walk from the train station. By car, one would take I-55 south and exit at Cass Avenue - North. Continue north to 55th Street and proceed west (left) into Downers Grove - Main Street. It is approx. a 40 minute commute.
Rev. Scott Oberle is the pastor and field site supervisor. He has served in the church as ordained UCC clergy for fifteen years. Scott has served as senior pastor and head of staff for the past eight years. He continue his own education at Chicago Theological seminary and has done some leadership seminars at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Scott has a very open and collegial style of leadership allowing people to use their gifts and talents while at the same time holding each person to a high standard and level of accountability. He believes it would be a very positive experience for the church, the student in process, and for himself to work with a student.