Called by God we serve to be a welcoming community of faith for all
We will value tradition while embracing the future to be a vibrant, growing, multi-generational community of God's faithful people. We believe we can be stronger by being diverse and inclusive, providing a safe space where our church family, our neighbors, and the community we touch can feel free to be themselves and can find a reflection of God's love in our fellowship, worship, and outreach. We choose to be a part of a changing church in a changing world, exploring innovative communication and technologies, opening ourselves to new ideas and alternative ways of growing spiritually and reflecting the compassion and love of Jesus.
Our community of faith at St. Johns has strong roots. We are truly a welcoming congregation, proud of our children and youth, proud of all our congregation, of our traditions, our history and proud of our beautiful center city church. As one of our youth said recently at his confirmation, he is proud to be part of our church because he feels Jesus’s love in the welcoming safety of this church family he calls home.
WHO WE ARE
Our Theological Beliefs
We are a fairly diverse congregation theologically and we are fairly orthodox in our beliefs. Some members are conservative while most are fairly liberal. We welcome and embrace the diversity of our community that we serve. We are humanists understanding that all people are flawed and all can be redeemed. We believe the cornerstone of theology is the bible and that Jesus is the sole head of the church. Bible verses are used consistently throughout our service as the basis for our beliefs. However, we are rationalists and humanists that understand that the literal translations of some passages do not fully explain the true message of Christianity.
Because we are fairly diverse, it is hard to say exactly what theologian would best represent us. Liturgically we are closest to Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli was a humanist, reformer and a scholar with many devoted friends and disciples. He communicated as easily with the ordinary people of his congregation as with the rulers of the land. His reputation as a stern, stolid reformer is counterbalanced by the fact that he had an excellent sense of humor and used satiric fables, spoofing, and puns in his preaching and writings. He was more conscious of social obligations than Martin Luther and he genuinely believed that the masses would accept a government guided by God's word. He tirelessly promoted assistance to the poor, who he believed should be cared for by a truly Christian community.
At St. John’s Most of us are comfortable sitting down to dinner with the homeless of our community as well as the leaders in our community. We believe the only way to solve a problem is to truly understand the people involved. We believe that the abundant resources of our world must be shared with all. We believe St. Johns United Church of Christ in Allentown can play an important role in spreading the message and serving our community. We are humanists that believe that all are welcome and all can be served in our place of worship.We believe our congregations greatest strengths are:
- Loving, caring and supportive
- Life experience and wisdom
- Generous giving
- Welcoming and accepting of diversity
- Creative and talented
- Accepting and respectful of our differences
- Sense of humor
OPEN AND AFFIRMING CHURCH
To fulfill our mission of being a welcoming community of faith for all we have become an Open and Affirming Church. On October 16, 2016, after the service, the congregation voted to become an open and affirming church. Below is the official statement the congregation instructed the consistory to write.
“St. John's UCC, as an Open and Affirming congregation, embraces the inclusive love of Jesus Christ. We seek to proclaim Christ's selfless and unconditional love in what we teach and in how we live together, within our congregation and our community. As we strive to live like Jesus, we welcome LGBTQ and all other historically marginalized people. St. John's UCC, Allentown, PA., welcomes all.”
We received a plaque from the National UCC recognizing this step toward being a more inclusive congregation, and it is displayed prominently in the church narthex.
In 2016 St John’s celebrated its 150th anniversary.
St. Johns was organized following the Civil War as a movement swept through the German Reformed Church to worship in English rather than German. In Allentown, a petition to establish an English-speaking congregation was reluctantly granted by the East Pennsylvania Classis of the Reformed Church, December 6, 1865. The following month, January 15, 1866, St. John’s English Reformed Church was organized and incorporated. Land was purchased at the northwest corner of Sixth and Walnut Streets and our original building was constructed. We worship at this same site today.
A booklet, produced to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of St. John’s, states, “On the evening of December 28, 1865, under the receding shadow of the glorious Christmas Day, the brethren assembled in Academy Hall, corner of Eighth and Walnut Streets,… and organized the Sunday school which was to be the nucleus of the new congregation…” “Then on January 15, 1866… the first Consistory of the congregation was elected…” These men were ordained and installed on the evening of January 29th. The cornerstone was laid in the early fall of 1867, and the sanctuary was dedicated in 1869.
- Reverend Emily Ann Garcia Livingston
- April Riddick, Sexton
- James Saylor, Sunday Morning Sexton
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The United Church of Christ is a place where no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey,
you are welcome here.
LOCATIONMINISTRY IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
St. John’s UCC’s focus on respecting tradition while embracing the future is a reflection of its environment in center city Allentown. With over 118,000 in population in the last census, Allentown is the fastest growing city in Pennsylvania. Along with this growth, the city has seen rapid changes and is experiencing an exciting time filled with challenges and opportunities. St. John’s has intentionally chosen to remain in center city and embraces our changing and growing community.