How do you describe First Church to a friend?

The answer to this question is as unique as you are.  Some of us would tell of a comforting shoulder to lean on. Many would point to companionship on their spiritual journey.

Young parents would speak of their children having fun on their way to becoming caring adults. Still others would express satisfaction working on a team to feed the hungry and give shelter to those in need.

The one thing in common would be the joy we feel in belonging to a place where we are welcome as the person we choose to be.

Use the form below to share your story of finding joy at First Church.  Psst…it’s Ok if you brag about the church a little bit 🙂

Tell Us Your Story of Joy
Come back later to see your story and others. Name and email address are optional.

Your Stories

❤️ Being someone who worships from afar, it gives us joy knowing the money we give to First Church is used exclusively to give God’s love to others. Whether it be Food Is Love, Pizza Church, your mission trips or many other things we do not know about.  We have never been connected to a church that extends God’s love to everyone with no exceptions.  Thank you for letting us be a part of it. – Marcus B.

❤️ First Church in Sterling is a warm, welcoming, supportive community of faith where absolutely all are welcome: babies, kids, teens adults young and old, all faiths and beliefs and all expressions of love.

❤️ I love First Church and it’s welcoming community. FC first brought joy when my sister and I attended with her new baby Mia – Doug Davis so kindly welcomed us and made my sister feel comfortable …even with a crying baby. First Church also brings me ‘empathetic joy’ in seeing my dad enjoy working with this community on many wonderful projects. – Jamie M.

❤️ In January of 2017, two beloved congregants, Jen Kalnicki and Mark Gratton, were engaged to be married the following fall. They got married in front of their First Church family during Sunday worship instead.

The beloved stepdad of the groom was given a terminal diagnosis with weeks to live, and his dearest wish was to walk his daughter-in-law to be down the aisle and witness their marriage.

So we planned the wedding with two weeks notice. A “no rehearsal wedding.” At midnight he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, and everyone was devastated that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding.

As he got into the ambulance, the last thing he said to Jen was not to postpone or cancel the wedding, and I hear he told all of the doctors and nurses that they had to let him out in a few hours so that he could get to his son and daughter-in-law’s wedding.

Nobody believed that would happen, so we planned to livestream it on Facebook. We found out at 9 that they had sprung him from the hospital, and he was able to “walk” her down the aisle at 10:15 am from his wheelchair.

My sermon just happened to be about miracles, and the wedding at Cana. We made our own miracle at the wedding at Sterling. He died a few weeks later, but he didn’t miss that wedding. – Pastor Robin

❤️ Being in a loving community of caring, sharing people of all backgrounds, ages and beliefs brings me joy. Where else do I have countless opportunities to share and receive gifts of love.

Opportunities from reading and ushering, meals and camaraderie, feeding the community, being a safe, expressive place for our young adults, medical missions to the third world; there are too many wonderful opportunities to list. Each brings Joy to the givers and the receivers.

❤️ First Church brings me joy because at the end of the day, we show up. When times get tough and things get hard we show up. I have been asked to help on the front lines of projects all the way to asked to run things on the back end. The constant thing I have seen is when First Church see’s a need even if not asked, we show up. Whether its for our town community or church community, both get the same amount of love.

When Covid 19 hit the world hard and everything changed drastically, without question First Church made a list of congregants and others who then got constantly called and checked up on. Whether the need was a five minute conversation or a drastic need First Church found a way to help. There was no fake helping to look good it was a drop everything what do you need right now kind of help.

In the same time span First Church congregants wanted to make sure everyone got fed and proceeded to show up to hand out meals. As someone who got to help with this program at the end of it by guiding traffic, even from a distance you could see the effect of what this simple act had on the community. No questions asked just here is some food to help.

You could see the love on the congregant’s faces as they saw the regulars that they knew desperately needed help. Then through conversation would always make sure the families were OK, and if they weren’t, you’d be smart to bet that the next week the volunteers had things waiting for that family. All the while befriending the people they had never seen to give them the exact same treatment.

Both of those were community examples but for me personally in the last three years First Church has shown up time and time again. My first interaction years ago was an email one Monday to Pastor Robin asking if I would be welcome at church as a bastard (yes I know, out dated concern which I now laugh about). The email reply alone had more love and care in it for someone she didn’t even know.

Sure enough that first Sunday I showed up, at least a third of the people at the service saw the new guy and came up to talk and welcome me in. One of them being Pastor Robin who the second I said I emailed her that Monday her face changed remembering my email and you could see how much she cared for everyone no matter how well she knew them.

Sure enough months later when she came back from a three month sabbatical I had jokingly pointed out I still hadn’t missed a week of church since I started coming. Her immediate response which I will never forget was ‘I know’.

This phrase has carried over to the actions of this church now knowing and feeling the effects of this church keeping tabs to make sure I am good as they do with everyone else. Not in a toxic creepy gossip kind of way but to make sure even our strongest looking links in the chain are just as sturdy as our weakest links in the chain.

The last First Church shows up example in this very long rant was from August 2021. It was scheduled that after service that the church would baptize me in the town lake. Now me being me, my normal headspace is I do what I do because its what I view is right and expect nothing and honestly assume no one notices or cares.

Boy was I wrong, Needing to break down the church service I ended up being the last one to the lake. Now already feeling the nerves and weight of preparing to be baptized I also figured no one cared and no one would show up.

But sure enough how it got talked about ahead of time alone should have proved me wrong. Thinking no one would be there it nearly broke me to not only see most of the people from service that day but also other congregants who were not even at the service show up to share the weight of what that act meant with me.

So after all that at the end of the day First Church brings me joy because we show up, no matter if its a major task or merely just physically showing up. First Church shows up and you can see the weight of it on all those it effects. – Jared Price