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  • Kurt Fedewa

The First Congregational Church of Portland

The Congregational Church has an important presence in Portland.

The Rev. Chris Richards is serving it as interim pastor.

“I see my role as that of a ministerial bridge from here to the future of our congregation,” said Pastor Chris. “I am working with these wonderful people until they find a permanent pastor.”

The local congregation has itself been present in Portland for 179 years. It traces its spiritual lineage to the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

“We are the denomination that celebrated the first Thanksgiving celebration in the new world,” explained Pastor Chris. “We are also privileged to have played a role in helping to frame our country’s constitution.”

The Congregational Church regards every member as equal.

“We operate our congregation in a democratic fashion,”explained the pastor. “Every member has one vote when we form our policies. But it’s our covenant that is truly the theological centerpiece of our faith. We covenant with God and with each other to walk in God’s ways.”

Every Congregational Church is unique.

“Some Congregational Churches are conservative, while other are quite liberal,” continued the pastor. “What binds us is our covenant.”

Pastor Chris speaks highly of the local congregation.

The Portland church is a very warm group of people,” he said. “They’re fun to be around. I have felt close to them since the first Sunday that I preached here. I call them the ‘salt of the earth.’”

Pastor Chris also thinks highly of the greater Portland community.

“When the tornado hit us six years ago, it left behind extensive damage to our chapel and to our parsonage. The entire city rallied to help us. It’s truly inspiring to hear of the outpouring of love and of support that Portland gave to us,” he said.

The Portland First Congregational Church is planning a community prayer vigil on Sunday evening, March 20, at 7 PM. Everyone is invited to attend it. The prayer vigil is dedicated to the people of Ukraine.

“The vigil will be very simple,” said the pastor. “The lights will be dimmed in the sanctuary and everyone will light a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ. There will be readings from scripture. The vigil will help us to understand that God’s peace is available to us even in the midst of the devastation in Ukraine. We will pray for peace. The vigil will help us to understand that we are not alone. God is near.”

The First Congregational Church of Portland

421 E. Bridge Street

Portland, MI 48875

Telephone: (517) 647-6441


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