What We Believe

With almost 400 years of history and ministry of transformation in this community, First Church has the perspective to help ground, love, and care for people in this unusual time while always looking forward and walking with the living presence and example of Jesus Christ.

Church life here is vibrant, passionate, and creative. With Christian Formation, fellowship, and community engagement opportunities for every age, First Church strives to be a multigenerational community where all are welcomed into the fullness of life and faith.

Belief at First Church Guilford is best understood as a way of living, rather than an adherence to creeds or confessions. First Church blends tradition and innovation, the historical and the contemporary. Our worship services connect to every generation by speaking to the present and the future.

Ours is a progressive theology characterized by intellectual curiosity and an embrace of diversity: theological, political and personal. We see the face of God in all peoples and places. We acknowledge the Bible as holding the sacred stories of our faith, but we take them too seriously to take them literally. 

We are a place of great and durable welcome. We welcome into the full life of our community all who seek to know God and live in love and fellowship with God, God’s people, and God’s earth. As an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation which means that everyone is welcome in our church regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, class, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender orientation and gender expression.


"Christian" means we perceive in Jesus the divine qualities of love, peace, joy, and justice. It does not mean we think Jesus is the only path to God.

"Christian" means we eagerly explore the Bible for its spiritual wisdom contained in symbol, metaphor, and history. It does not mean a literal or heavy-handed approach that uses the Bible to prove we are right or righteous.


"Open-minded" means we understand faith as a quest, not a clutched certainty. "Open-minded" flies above the tired distinction between conservative and liberal, and does not refer to one’s specific beliefs, but how one relates to those beliefs. It means we do not assume a defensive posture, but rather enter appreciatively into different points of view with the expectation of learning and growing.


"Spiritual" means we believe God is a spirit of love that can be felt and known by each one of us. It means Christianity is as much about the heart as the head, as much about the body as the mind.

"Spiritual" means not merely hoping for a better world or pining after justice, but rolling up one’s sleeves and starting to feed the hungry, care for the sick and anguished, house the homeless and advocate for a more just society.


"Evolving" means rather than resisting change or innovation, we eagerly experiment with new ways of being faithful and new understandings. We strive to be rooted but not stuck.


"Diverse" means we celebrate the differences among us such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, mental abilities, physical capabilities, personalities, and backgrounds.

"Diverse" means we trust that these differences inform and strengthen community. A diverse spiritual community welcomes conventional believers, curious agnostics, and questioning skeptics.

And, finally, "diverse" means you are free to seek your own guiding principles in our midst. These principles are not a creed to which one must ascribe. Rather, they are one attempt to describe the spirit and nature of our congregation.