Babies, Kids, Youth, and Families
In the UCC, we often say that "No Matter Who You Are Or Where You Are On Life's Journey, You Are Welcome Here," and we are serious about that, especially if you are a tiny little babe, a laughing kid, a curious middle schooler, or an inquisitive high schooler. There is a place for you and your family. We welcome your family to stay in worship, even if your baby is crying or babbling, or if your child just needs to dance! We believe that children are active participants in worship, learning about God through music, movement, prayers, and interaction with other adults in our diverse worship community. We also have programming that has specially trained adults that you can confidentially leave your child with while you are in worship.
Infants and Toddlers 0-4
The Nursery is available for infants and toddlers during Sunday morning worship. Adult leaders are available from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. each Sunday to care for your children. These adults have been specially trained in our Risk Reduction and Response training, which ensures that all employees and volunteers respect the rights of children and observe healthy boundaries with them, encourage inclusivity and diversity in the classroom, and understand and adhere to Safe Church and child abuse prevention policies. Nursery leaders care for children, provide personalized attention and learning opportunities, and nurture the faith life of each young child.
Preschool and Elementary aged children are welcomed to participate in our Rotation Based Programming. The Rotation model presents 4-6 week Sunday School sessions focusing on a single Bible story. Children engage the story through music, food, drama, art, nature, and dance. Each class is taught by two or more volunteers of the church.
September - Noah and the Ark
October - Jonah and the Whale
November - King David
December - The Christmas Story
January - TBA
February - TBA
March - TBA
April - The Easter Story
May - TBA
Vacation Bible School - June 17-21, 2019
Earth and Sky Camp with UUCGV - July 1-5, 2019
3rd Grade Bible Dedication
3rd graders are invited each year during the month of April to learn Bible basics. At the conclusion of our 3rd Grade Bible Basics class, we have a dedication of Bibles during worship and present our 3rd graders with their very own Bible.
Our church will hold it's first children's Christmas Pageant on Sunday, December 23 at noon. Children and youth are invited to participate in this fun activity. Rehearsals for the pageant will take place during Sunday School throughout December, and an additional rehearsal is planned for Sunday, December 16 after worship.
Middle and High School
Sundays 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Meet in our Youth Group room, The Zone
located on the 2nd floor of the CE Building
“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).
Be a part of something great…FCUCC Youth Group! Come join all your friends, new and old, as we enjoy Food, Fun, and Fellowship each Sunday from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm in The Zone. Lunch is provided by families, volunteers, or the Youth Director each week. Youth Group provides a time each week for teens to pause from their busy lives and check-in with each other, focus on their faith life, share stories of hope and love, play games, watch short videos on God/theology, do service projects, and participate in all sorts of community building activities. Some Sundays Youth Group is replaced with a larger activity, field trip, or retreat for youth. Check the church calendar for specifics.
Confirmation is a rite of passage for teens at First Congregational Church. In this program, confirmands will explore their faith and the United Church of Christ (UCC), organization of the UCC denomination; the work the UCC is doing throughout our community and the world, and more. Designed as a program to transform your teen's life, we will use class time and field-trips to provide youth with insight into: the Bible, its origins, and how to use it; Christian beliefs; Other faith traditions; understanding God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; and the Christian church. This program also addresses some vital questions regarding the importance of church and the meaning of confirmation, and contains opportunities for teens to put their faith into action. For teens entering grades 7-9, classes go from October 2018 to May 2019. Confirmands will get to choose at the end of the program if they would like to join the church and affirm their baptism. Those not baptized will have the opportunity to celebrate this sacrament. We celebrate all participants, whether they choose to join the church of not, on Confirmation Sunday.
Several times a year the Youth Group hosts lock-ins at the church. A typical lock-in will start around dinner and conclude the following day at breakfast. Activities include games, movies, discussions, presentations, vespers, and Bible study. Youth are encouraged to bring friends.
Fall and Spring Youth Retreat
Youth Retreats happen twice a year with youth from across the Rocky Mountain Conference of the UCC. Our teens travel from Grand Junction over the mountains to Black Forest, Colorado and spend the weekend at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center.
Register Now! Fall Retreat: La Foret Unplugged (Middle and High School)
November 2-4, 2018
Over the weekend of Nov 2-4, campers from across the Rocky Mountain Conference will converge in the Black Forest, creating a radically loving, sacred, and joyful community. ALL youth (grades 6-12) are invited!
This year's theme is "La Foret: Unplugged," and the retreat will be led by youth-ministry vets Rev. Mollie Landers Hatt (Lakewood UCC) and Rev. Mandy Hall (Plymouth UCC in Ft. Collins).
During our time together, we'll be spending as much time outdoors as possible—enjoying hikes, campfires, free time, labyrinth, you name it—so please bring several layers and good outdoor shoes with you to camp!
Fall Youth Retreat is all about embodiment. We will try spiritual practices and find one that best speaks to each individual. We’ll deepen trust—in ourselves, God, and others—and get in touch with our unique purposes for this life. Together, we’ll find the kaleidoscope of things that reflect hope in the world. Make faith yours; feel it in your bones.
Through large and small group activities, we invite and inspire campers to dig deep to discern what they believe and why they believe it. By the end of the weekend, youth will have assembled a special box full of La Foret magic and reminders of God’s ceaseless presence in their lives. The Rocky Mountain Conference UCC vetted, trained, and committed staff have planned a special retreat that seeks to anchor youth in faith in the midst of our crazy world. They’ll facilitate powerful experiences, lead games, arts & crafts, music, worship, a dance, time in nature, and so much more.
Western Regional Youth Events in 2018 (Hawaii) and 2022 (TBA)
Western Regional Youth Event, or WRYE, is a conference that happens every four years for the youth of the western regions of the United Church of Christ. Youth gather to learn new things in workshops, give back to the community through service projects, hear inspirational and informative speakers, musicians, and artists, and engage with one another while growing and developing spiritually and emotionally. This event is a spiritual, fun, broadening, and transformative experience for all involved.
This past June we had six youth and one adult chaperone attend the week-long Western Regional Event in Honolulu, Hawaii. The program was entitled "E Hele Mai I Ka Wai," Come to the Waters. At this youth conference the teens attended worship, workshops, plenary sessions, learned about the culture and people of Hawaii, worked on several service projects in Ulupo Heiau and the He'eia Fishpond, and even got to spend the afternoon snorkeling and visiting the USS Arizona National Monument. Workshops included Zen and the art of knitting, Youth leading youth, Writing your own song, Walking on water, Visioning your values, The UCC -sexuality and you, Mural art, Living Lokahi, Hula dancing, Lei making, Heaven on earth in your body and relationships, Gun violence - activism and changing your world, Faith - justice - community - songwriting, Flirting or consent?, Creative connection, and Walking the labyrinth.
National Youth Events in 2016 (Disney World, Florida), 2020 (Purdue University) and 2024 (TBA)
The National Youth Event (NYE) is a spirited quadrennial event centered on faith, leadership, service and social justice first inaugurated in 1980. It is celebrated as the largest denominational gathering for the United Church of Christ with an expected attendance of 4,000 participants.
Each year we have youth and young adults who graduate from High School or College. Graduates are recognized during worship each spring before the beginning of summer with a blessing as they move into the next phase of their life. Friends and family of graduates are also invited to participate in recognizing these individuals.
We welcome families of all sizes and shapes: our church demographics include single parents, LGBTQI+, grandparents, aunts or uncles, foster and adoptive parents, moms and dads, individuals, families of choice and families of birth.
Each month we offer intergenerational programs for families and individuals:
Ice skating, ski trip, Epiphany art making nights
Super Bowl party, Mardi Gras pancake dinner
Easter egg hunt, Easter brunch, Earth Day tree planting
Intergenerational hike of the Colorado National Monument
Rocky Mountain Conference UCC Annual Celebration, Vacation Bible School
Earth and Sky camp, La Foret summer camps, outdoor worship service and picnic
All-church camp-out, Grand Junction Rockies Baseball game
Rally Sunday/backpack blessing (kickoff for new school year), Spirit of the Valley 5K/1K race
Pumpkin carving and Trunk or Treat (Last Sunday of the month)
Thanksgiving Dinner on the Grounds (Thanksgiving Day)
Christmas pageant, caroling, Christmas shopping childcare/present wrapping
(check our church calendar for exact dates and times)
Camps and Retreats
Camps and Retreats are hosted at La Foret Camp and Retreat Center in Black Forest, CO
Upcoming Camps and Retreats:
Fall Retreat (Middle and High School) – November 2-4, 2018
Spring Retreat (Middle and High School) – March 15-17, 2019
Camp Counselor Training – May 4-5, 2019
Grandparent and Me Camp (Ages 5-11 and grandparents) – June 28-30, 2019
Pioneer (Entering 2nd-4th Grade) – July 7-13, 2019
Explorer (4th-6th Grade) – July 7-13, 2019
Voyager (6th-8th Grade) – July 7-13, 2019
MADD (9th-12th Grade) – July 14-20, 2019 (Rev. Jeffrey Dodson, Co-Director)
Contemplative (Adult) – July 14-20, 2019
First Congregational Church UCC is a part of the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC), and our camps and retreats are hosted by the conference:
"In the RMC, we feel that nurturing faith is of the utmost importance. Our Conference Camps & Events serve the Conference mission to Be Radically Connected. Our weekend retreats and summer camps are typically hosted at La Foret Conference & Retreat Center. This Holy Place fosters faith exploration, character development, self-confidence, creativity, and friendships. Qualities cultivated at camp help persons of faith change lives, build bridges, and transform the world. We hope to see you soon at an RMC Camp or Event!"
(Cory Kibler, 2018)
The following list was written by Cory Kibler, a long-time La Foret camper and conference staff member, and he offers an overview of just some of the benefits of sending our children to RMC camps:
Moral enrichment: Unlike almost any environment most children encounter, RMC camps facilitate intentional discussions around what it means to be a moral agent with free will; why ethical questions are important; and how they interact with faith. Moreover, children may (within safe spaces) become involved with moral conflict, which we are grateful for, as camp is an excellent venue for these types of conflict resolutions.
Self-empowerment: Many children come to our camps unsure of who they are, and even more unsure of what’s expected of them. As staff, it’s our job to help them navigate tricky social situations, their self-identity, and ultimately reach a place where they know that they are loved and celebrated by God and by their communities. We help them build their own expectations, and from there, they have the tools to shape who they would like to be.
Spirituality: One of the largest questions at our camps is, “How does God/Jesus/the Bible fit into all of this?” Most of the time, the answer is incredibly complex and not immediately apparent. In these instances, we try not to guide youth to any “right” theological answers, but instead, we do our best to help them to ask the right questions to reach the answers on their own. Spirituality means so many different things to so many different youths, and our camps are meant for this very exploration.
Leadership: Anyone who’s attended an RMC outdoor ministry event will tell you that it doesn’t consist of staff-members dictating the programming of the week. Sure, we plan activities and conversations, but it’s truly up to the youth to drive the camp. This can be new for them; it’s rare that they are asked how THEY want to experience the outdoors in a camp setting. But, by giving the campers the reins of the camp, it allows youth to grow their leadership skills in wonderful new ways.
Conflict resolution: Conflict doesn’t happen often at camp, but when it does, we have tested procedures in place to make sure that resolution is reached and everyone feels fully heard and understood. In life, conflict is unavoidable, so when a staff member can help mediate a conflict at camp, we hope to impart conflict-resolution skills that stick with the camper for years to come.
Communication: One of the trickiest and most rewarding aspects of camp is that, unless there’s a safety issue at hand, participation is mandatory. This often means at least 10 minutes of awkward getting-to-know-you conversations between two youths who’ve never met each other; but they almost always learn something new about the other person, and usually become fast friends.
Radical acceptance: This is possibly the most important core value of everything we do at camp. We are radically and authentically inclusive; we accept everyone, no matter how their story/journey differs from ours; and we strongly encourage ALL campers and staffers alike to embrace their authentic selves.
A wider worldview: At camps, youth have had some pretty amazing “a-ha!” moments. A male camper might have his world turned upside down just by hearing a few things that female campers go though on a daily basis outside of camp. Campers from a more affluent background might interact with campers there on scholarship, creating a dialogue about the social class. Campers with traditionally liberal political views often end up learning something from those with conservative political views, and vice-versa.
A sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself: Along with church and youth group, summer camps illustrate to youth that ministry isn’t just happening in their hometown; it’s happening all over the RMC, nation, and world. Youth also begin to think about their relationship with Christianity in a very safe space, and in a very real way. While beliefs run the gamut, the youth recognize that they do not operate in a vacuum; and, in fact, when we work together toward a common goal, amazing things happen. And, they can take these newly formed bonds and strengthened communities back to their home churches and do work that inspires others.
A sense of calling: RMC outdoor ministry has been (and will continue to be) a huge factor in so many children’s lives. It allows us to have deliberate conversations with youths to help them be proactive regarding the kind of adults they become. More than anything, we want each child to leave camp with a sense of duty, empowerment, and a list of simple and effect ways they can reenter the outside world with their La Foret spirit in mind, and have stronger bonds with their hometown church communities.
Our Call to Action:
So, this is our charge to parents, clergy, youth ministers, and children across the Rocky Mountain Conference: Register your child for summer camp.
I promise it will change their lives for the better. Even if you don’t see the outward effects right
away, the seed will be planted, and it will grow. Camp transforms children and adolescents into
passionate, intelligent, accepting, inclusive, and confident adults, and it will influence their
spiritual and emotional journeys for years to come.
- Cory Kibler, 2018