In 1974 a handful of families came together with a common vision: to form a church that would be a “community-in-mission.” For the first nineteen years of its existence, Family of Christ decided to be a church without a building. By renting space from other churches to host worship and by meeting for church activities in people’s homes, Family of Christ was able to dedicate the bulk of its resources to serving the community and world beyond ourselves. From the beginning God has called Family of Christ into a public ministry for peace and justice, and over the last 40+ years God has been faithful in guiding and equipping us in that mission.
We have always been a church of small membership with an impact that far outweighs our size. Being a mirco-congregation has allowed us to be a tight-knit, intimate community that cares deeply for one another. At the same time, we have never lost sight of our call to be a hospitable congregation that welcomes newcomers and visitors with the same love and care that we do with longtime members.
In those early years the congregation met in intergenerational “Cluster Groups” that would gather in people’s homes for meals, study, fellowship, and prayer. This allowed everyone, from the nine-month old to the ninety-year old to fully participate in the life and mission of the church. In 2013 Family of Christ returned to its roots by reintroducing these intergenerational “Clusters,” which meet monthly and provide a network of congregational care throughout the year.
Way before gay and transgender rights made their way into national headlines, Family of Christ declared itself to be an open and affirming congregation, welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. In 1997 Family of Christ was amongst some pioneer congregations that affiliated with More Light Presbyterians, whose mission is to seek the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry, and witness of the Presbyterian Church.
Family of Christ’s commitment to intercultural ministry has taken many different forms over the decades. Early in our ministry, members of Family of Christ hosted a Vietnamese family who had become refugees from their homeland. In more recent years, the church has welcomed dozens of families from Mexico and Central America into our community. When federal immigration authorities raided a local meat-packing plant, arresting over 260 workers and creating a humanitarian crisis, Family of Christ partnered with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to accompany immigrant families prohibited from working, moving, or obtaining public assistance. The relationships born out of that experience has led our church to becoming an ever-increasingly bi-lingual, bi-cultural community. In all of these intercultural ministries we seek to practice mutuality by learning from one another, celebrating one another’s culture, and sharing in leadership.
Out of these intercultural relationships developed a vision to turn our church field into a community garden. Thus, our Ubuntu Community Gardens and Orchard began as an endeavor to allow people of different homelands, ethnicities, cultures, languages, and creeds to work side-by-side. More than just a space to grow food, the individuals and families who participate in Ubuntu have become a community. Besides the vegetables, what is growing out in Family of Christ’s field are relationships rooted in compassion, justice, mutuality, and love.
Our congregation has long been passionate about utilizing the arts to share God’s message of love, hope, peace, and justice with our community. In addition to music, our worship services have included dramatic monologues, real-time painting, and performance art pieces. In 2010 our dedication to the performing arts led Family of Christ to found the Greeley Garage Sale Theatre. From one man’s vision to stage Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird outdoors in the middle of our church field, this ministry has grown into an annual benefit production. That first show hosted over 300 guests and raised over $5,000 for the Weld Food Bank.
As Family of Christ moves into an exciting future, we do so seeking God’s call and guidance. As our community, our ministries, and the world around us grow and change, Family of Christ anticipates that it will grow and change as well. We anticipate welcoming people into our midst who have different ways of talking about or experiencing God, or those who question whether there is such a thing as God. Unafraid of this, our church wants to serve and learn from those who come to Family of Christ because they want to make a difference in their community and the world. We seek to empower change-makers and justice-doers, even as they change who we are as a church by sharing a new vision of what our ministry could be.