our SIX CORE VALUES
Accessible to All
We are called by God to widen God’s welcome.
In 2005, General Synod 25 of the United Church of Christ called on settings of the United Church of Christ to declare themselves accessible to all (A2A): “The Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls on Conferences, Associations, congregations, seminaries and colleges, campus ministries, camps, covenanted ministries and all other UCC organizations to embody the philosophy of inclusion and interdependence, embark on study and reflection activities about disabilities, disabilities rights, and ways congregations are able to become accessible to all (A2A), remove or overcome barriers to welcoming and including all people in the work and witness of the United Church of Christ, and to support and implement provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”
Since First United Church of Tampa has a long history of including people who are differently abled in the full life of our church, we wanted to make a formal declaration to make this important example of widening God’s welcome known.
We are an Earth Charter church because we care for God’s creation.
The Earth Charter is a set of 16 principles agreed upon by ordinary citizens from around the world. It evolved out of the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. However, because the United Nations got bogged down in politics, the people who were passionate about the ideas behind the charter decided to work it out on their own. It took more than ten years to finish. The Earth Charter pulls together issues of community, social justice, peace, and ecological integrity. Because God calls us to work for justice and peace and to be better stewards of God’s creation, First United endorsed the Earth Charter in 2007. We proudly uphold its principles.
multiracial & multicultural
We declared ourselves to be a “Multiracial and Multicultural” church because we warmly, enthusiastically, and intentionally welcome people of all races and cultures.
Our congregation expresses its commitment by:
affirming and living out our faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ;
knowing we are interconnected with people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures;
embodying and rejoicing in these diversities as gifts to the human family;
welcoming all people into the community of faith without discrimination because of color, race, ethnicity, language, or culture;
formally recognizing and utilizing the racial and cultural varieties of gifts within the context of Christian unity;
struggling within church and society to rid ourselves of the sin of racism which has prevented an authentic embrace of the races, ethnicities, and cultures in our denomination;
making multiracial and multicultural inclusiveness a key organizing principle for church in society;
working for justice and peace throughout the global community;
reflecting in our membership the changing demographics;
declaring ourselves an anti-racist congregation.
Open and Affirming
We declared ourselves to be an “Open and Affirming” church because we enthusiastically embrace LGBT equality and welcome all people however they identify their sexual orientation or gender.
Many churches make a blanket statements, such as, “We welcome everyone” or “All are welcome here.” However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people don’t always feel that the words “everyone” or “all” include them. To erase any doubt about our welcoming stance, First United officially declared itself (by a unanimous congregational resolution) an “Open and Affirming” church in the United Church of Christ in 1996. In celebration of our church’s 125th anniversary, our Church Council unanimously reaffirmed our “Open and Affirming” commitment in 2010.
Because LGBT people have gifts and talents to offer our church and have often been discouraged from being “out” in church (or from participating altogether), we at First United reject the silence, condemnation, and discrimination that have been historically aimed at our LGBT sisters and brothers. In addition, an “Open and Affirming” message helps to counter the notion that “Christians think that being LGBT is sinful.” It affirms that sexuality is a gift from God, as its responsible and loving expression. God’s Spirit is present in people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Hospitality is a key teaching of the Bible. It is much more than good manners; it is the second commandment of Jesus Christ: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There are 31,110 verses in the Bible. Sadly, many churches have taken five or six verses out of their historical context in order to practice a harsh inhospitality toward people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Just as persons are born left-handed, while the majority are right-handed, so too, some of us are born LGBT. It is not a lifestyle. It is not a choice. It is how we are created by a loving God who knows, more than we, the value of diversity.
In the United Church of Christ, churches that have declared themselves “Open and Affirming” are welcoming to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. First United welcomes you regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Please join us in the life and ministry of our church. You are welcome here!
Please click here to learn more about the Open and Affirming Program in the United Church of Christ.
During the year of our 125th anniversary, we reaffirmed our “Open and Affirming” commitment.
Peace with Justice
We oppose violence, war, and injustice. We actively work for peace and justice in Tampa and beyond, and have done so since 1885.
“Peace is the fruit of justice.”
That is an old Latin American saying. In order to have peace, there must be a foundation of justice. Since our founding in 1885, we have been a voice for social justice in Tampa and beyond.
In the 1930s, our pastor, Rev. Walter Metcalf, led the movement to reform the Tampa Police Department and the city hall in the wake of a brutal killing of political reformers.
In the 1960s, women of the church formed the PIE Group (“People Integrating Eating”), sitting with African-American women waiting to be served in area restaurants.
Our Social Action Committee helped lead vigils for peace in the build-up of war with Iraq.
We are currently working ecumenically to address the problem of gun violence that is plaguing our country.
We continue to work together to bring justice and peace to our community, our nation, and our world. As a “Peace with Justice” church, we strive to make a difference in the lives of those who experience injustice, exclusion, discrimination, violence, oppression, or intolerance.
"Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God."
We work with our neighbors for positive change.
Our congregation has a long history of working with our neighbors to create a better community and a better world. We declared ourselves to be a Relationship-Building church (our sixth Core Value) to highlight our desire to address issues of common concern with interfaith, ecumenical, and secular communities.