ABOUT Our Church

First Congo branded border for hero banners
Extreme close up of a First Congo church stained glass window


At First Congregational Church of Western Springs, we seek to be a faithful people, to introduce our children to a loving Jesus, and to live out our faith in Christian mission and service. We feel called to love God through worship, which is the central act of our faith.

We welcome all people as children of God and value that our members come from many traditions. This breadth of theological perspectives allows us to learn from one another and helps us to grow in our own Christian faith in an atmosphere of love and respect. We ask our new members to bring the best of what they have experienced and to acknowledge that all of us have come from a variety of backgrounds and may be in different places in our faith journeys.

We do not take the words of the Bible to be literal truths, but we take them to be eternal truths, which speak to us as powerfully in this century as they did in Jesus’ day. We try to connect these truths to our everyday lives and we lift up Jesus’ teachings of love, justice and peace.

We believe God is still speaking to us and hope our faith will always continue to grow. We invite and welcome you to look for many opportunities to expand your faith with us.

Our Mission Statement

Joined as a Congregation through the grace and teachings of Jesus Christ, we are called as disciples:

  • To worship God together in wonder and in faith;
  • To increase our love of God by increasing our love of neighbor;
  • To connect the stories and truths of Scripture with our daily lives;
  • To share our stories of faith with one another and our community;
  • To open our lives to the transforming power of God’s love;
  • To celebrate the liberation received through Christ’s forgiveness and to share that gift by forgiving others;
  • To follow Christ to the side of all who suffer and despair;
  • To be Christ’s messengers and advocates for social justice;
  • To be generous and thoughtful stewards of all of God’s gifts; and,
  • To welcome all people as children of God.

We invite all who wish to join us to share in the joys and challenges of this calling.

Archways leading up to First Congo
Our church's peace pole in 2019

Our Value Statement

We, the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, look toward the future with hope and anticipation, valuing these commitments to guide us on the way:

By God’s grace, we commit ourselves anew… to remember whose we are, that we might be faithful in worship, study, prayer, care of one another and of the world; to proclaim in word and deed Jesus as the living Christ, God’s love and justice made flesh; to seek God’s way for us by listening for God’s Word in Holy Scriptures, in our rich heritage, in faithful witness, in our evolving human experience, and in the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit; to act in the freedom of conscience and right of individual discernment, while living out the call to covenantal relationship with one another; to be a welcoming community where all might know they are accepted and belong, sharing Christ’s open table with an open heart; to spiritually nourish, inspire and keep safe our children and youth in the unfolding journey of their Christian faith;

to lift up our tradition of theological education, shared learning and the free exchange of ideas; to respond with energy, intelligence, imagination and love to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of our congregation in every season and passage of life; to connect the truth of the Scriptures with our daily lives, highlighting the relevance of faith to all aspects of life and society; to make real the “priesthood of all believers,” where members of all ages and stages are freed in the Spirit to share their gifts and unique calling in the ministries of Christ; to partner with others who share a common vision of God’s shalom for this world through ecumenical commitment, witness and ministries; to risk the reach beyond our own walls in sharing the message of Christ’s love, justice and grace, that lives may be renewed, spirits revived, and the world transformed.

United Church of Christ Statement of Faith

We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus
Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being
create persons in your own images,
and set before each one the ways of life and death.

You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.

A bible opened up on a wood table

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself. You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues and races. You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world, and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory. You promise to all who trust you, forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.  Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.

For more information on the United Church of Christ, please visit their website at www.ucc.org.

First Congo branded border for hero banners


The First Congregational Church of Western Springs was founded in 1887 with 21 charter members. The church quickly grew to more than 40, a membership recognized as “cosmopolitan in spirit and life, broad in sympathy, and tolerant in non-essentials.” Early members worshiped in a small frame schoolhouse that stood near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Chestnut Street. When this building was removed in 1894 to make way for construction of a frame church, services were temporarily held in a large tent. The new building was opened in late fall of 1894, and was officially dedicated in June of 1895.

In 1929, the congregation moved one block west and into the Sanctuary and Education/Community Building where we presently worship. G. Grant Elmslie, a prominent Prairie School architect and highly regarded associate of the renowned Louis Sullivan, designed this new building. Today the elegant woodwork patterns, the resplendent stained glass window above the altar, and the detailed stonework on our building’s edifice serve as stunning reminders of Elmslie’s talents.

Interior of church looking towards the back door

Changes that have occurred over the past 70 years include:

Church nursery school is formed.

The addition of our current Education Building is completed.

Congregation votes to join the United Church of Christ.

The centennial of our church’s founding is celebrated.

Our Diamond Anniversary is celebrated with a major restoration and renovation effort that brought us up to date on many deferred maintenance items and restored some of Mr. Elmslie’s original detailing. With the near completion of these projects, we have qualified for inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The front of First Congo church from the street


Many of us believe that the architecture of our Sanctuary and Education Building is a sublime expression of the connection between religion and the arts.

Architect George G. Elmslie envisioned the Prairie style of architecture as fitting for a Congregational Church. The Congregational tradition is democracy in religion; the people (the congregation) discern God’s vision for their future — together. Elmslie imagined that the horizontal emphasis of the Prairie style was well-suited to this theology in that it would emphasize the immanence of God — literally, God with us.

This church, thus, is a home where our congregation assembles for the praise and glory of God. Although the buildings are beautiful, the soul of this church is not the structures, but the members, friends, and strangers who gather here. Elmslie may have designed the house, but it is the members and visitors who make this church a home. It is a blessing to us; we hope its beauty will touch you as well.

— Rev. Dr. Richard Kirchherr

To learn more about all of the beautiful architectural features of our campus, please download the Architectural Guide.

Pastor Rich Kirchherr also provides a video tour of our beloved sanctuary alongside an historical overview of congregationalism.

The Campus

We are housed on a beautiful site north of Chestnut Street, between Central and Woodland Avenues. The Sanctuary, built in 1929, offers an inspirational setting for worship. Next to the Sanctuary is the three-story Education Building, the center for classes, meetings and activities.

Our buildings are accessible to all ages and to persons with disabilities, with ramps and minimal thresholds. The Education Building has an elevator to the third floor at its north end. The Education Building also houses our preschool and Kids’ Day Out programs. Its third floor is home to The Western Springs School of Talent Education.