If you think that First Parish Church in Taunton may be the place for you, one of the best first steps that you can take is to join us for a service on Sunday morning. The mood is relaxed and dress is casual. New people join us here at First Parish all the time, so you never need to feel awkward, or as though you’ll be the only one who doesn’t know everyone else. Visitors arrive as singles or couples; some people come with friends. Children are always welcome. New children may choose to follow the crowd into Sunday School after the story, or stay with their parents. We have a “kids’ table” at the back of the sanctuary where children may play quietly during the service, with comfortable seating for parents, grandparents or caretakers if they want to be nearby. Don’t be too surprised if you know a few of us already! Our congregation includes many who are active in the schools, libraries and other community centers of Taunton and surrounding towns; you may well get here and see some familiar faces. We use the side doors, as well as the front doors much of the time-either is fine. Click here for a map, diagram of the building, directions and parking suggestions. You will be welcomed warmly and may be asked to fill out a contact card. These allow us to keep you in touch with what is going on here at First Parish, but there will be absolutely no pressure to join our congregation unless or until you are sure that this is where you want to be. You are welcome to attend services and participate in programs whether or not you have “signed the [membership] book.” Grab a cup of coffee from the pot in the hallway—it’s always hot and always fresh—and join us at 10:00 am on Sunday.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the questions that get asked a lot by our guests and newer members of our community. If you have questions that are not answered below, of course, feel free to contact our office or minister. Can I just “show up” for a worship service or Sunday school if I have never been to First Parish before? Of course! Adults who fill in a contact card will be added to our Weekly Update List, and generally be contacted by someone in the church.
How do people dress for Sunday worship services? Our congregation is casual and open. Wear whatever makes you comfortable.
Should I bring my children when I come to First Parish on a Sunday? Yes! Children’s programming and/or childcare are available during most worship services, and children are always welcome to stay with their parents at the Kids’ Table during worship as well. Church School on Sunday mornings is one big reason people are attracted to First Parish. Children of any age are always welcome in the service – but most will be participating in the children’s programming that overlaps the adult worship services. The best way to find the answers to your particular questions regarding children may be to contact Barry Sanders, our Director of Religious Education.
What makes First Parish different from other churches? There is no test of creed to join – “we need not believe alike to love alike.” Within our congregation you will find diversity of belief. In our Sunday School we do not indoctrinate children by teaching them what they should believe, but rather we try to spark their own curiosity about religious questions and provide them with the tools they need to make their own decisions.
How do I meet other people at First Parish? Come! Fill out a Contact Card at the Welcome Table or in coffee hour. Start with a First Steps or Roots Class and explore our small group discussions. Offer to help in the Sunday School. Sing in the choir. Call any of our staff members to discuss even more options for getting involved. Discover more about how to connect.
What is expected of First Parish members? While anyone is welcome to attend, becoming part of this church, like any other community, brings with it responsibilities. New (or prospective) members should sign up for a Roots class – a small group series that is led by our minister. Members are expected to support the church as well as they can financially, as well as giving time and talent to support its programs and outreach efforts.
Are members supposed to come to church every Sunday? Those who do attend regularly tend to feel more a part of the life of the congregation. Those who are not here regularly still can play a vital supporting role. During the summer on Sundays our services are more casual, and often led by people other than our regular staff.
Do members have to give money? The church relies on the generosity of its members to pay for its staff and programs and building. If you are the kind of person who likes First Parish, you are probably the kind of person who will want to give your fair share. There is no required amount. Everyone contributes what he or she can. Donating is easy – you may put your donation in the offering plate on Sunday morning, or use the Paypal or Donate Online links on our website to set up credit card payments or automatic withdrawals. Contact our minister or administrator to make or change a pledge.
What do Unitarians believe? Ours is a free faith. We believe in “life before death” and in a free search for truth and meaning. As a liberal religion born of Jewish and Christian traditions, we keep our minds open to the religious questions that people have struggled with in all times and places. We have no creeds. Instead, we are guided by our personal experience, conscience and reason in developing our beliefs, values and ethics. In our view, religious authority lies not in any one book, institution or person. Each of us has a responsibility to continually develop our religious understanding and to act as a moral force in the world. For us, what people do each day is much more important than what they say they believe. As we continually develop our understanding of life, death, truth and the world, we are open to the insights of science as well as of religious teachers and men and women of all ages, races and cultures. Explore more here.
Do you pray in your church? We have time for prayer or meditation in all of our services.
Do Unitarian Universalists consider themselves to be Christian? Actually, some do and some do not. Unitarianism grew out of the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe. At that time Unitarian thinkers began to question the authority of creeds and dogmas. In so doing, they strived to follow the example of Jesus rather than to keep to the various belief structures that had been created by men long after his death. For the first 300 years, Unitarians considered themselves to be the most authentic Christians. They saw the Bible as the supreme source of God’s truth. It has only been during the past 150 years, with increased knowledge and exposure to science and other world religions that Unitarians have begun to see the Bible as only one of the world’s great sources of wisdom, values and understanding. Today, most Unitarians think of our tradition as being distinct from Christianity, but informed by the teachings of Jesus and other prophets.
What is the difference between Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist? At First Parish we commonly refer to ourselves as “Unitarian.” We are a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but First Parish was founded as a Congregational, and then Unitarian church. In early American history the Unitarians and Universalists were two distinct faiths. The Unitarians were liberal Christians who believed in one indivisible God rather than in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Universalists were Christians distinguished by their rejection of the notion of hell and thus their belief in “universal salvation.” In 1961, the Unitarian and Universalist Churches in America merged. What became clear over time was that the fundamental differences between traditional Christianity and Unitarianism and Universalism were not so much in the notion of the nature of God or in what happens after we die; the fundamental difference is in the notion of human nature. Whereas traditional Christians see human nature as inherently sinful and in need of salvation, Unitarians and Universalists believe that people are inherently good.
First Parish Church in Taunton P.O. Box 614 76 Church Green Taunton, MA 02780 508.822.2107