Old First is a small enough community that we pretty much all know one another. Or at least almost everyone. And these days,
there is always someone joining us! Even for newcomers, it’s not long before even they feel they belong… knowing others and being known.
But though our community is relatively small, we find that interacting in even smaller groups or settings helps us stay connected to one another. These small get-togethers — for fun, fellowship, and spiritual growth — are often where interpersonal relationships are forged, strengthened, nurtured and supported.
Below is a sampling of some of the fellowship groups at Old First. If you have further questions or want to get involved, the Pastor can get you in touch with leaders from each of the groups:
Youth Group–Our youth group is drawn primarily from families within the church. But it is an open group, and new teenagers are always welcome. It meets at church on the first Saturday of each month for an evening of activities and fellowship. We also enjoy a second monthly event — like bowling, serving at our homeless shelter or a movie night. These second monthly meetings alternate between service and fellowship. Youth from Old First enjoy an exchange with our partner church in Bielefeld, Germany. Every few summers, a group from Germany come to Philadelphia to learn about life in America. And on alternating years, a group of Old First youth visit Bielefeld. Starting in the 2010-11 year, our youth program has a commitment to making mission trips (youth from across the country come to Old First for work camps; our youth deserve similar opportunities). In January 2011, Old First youth took a mission trip to New York City. We are now ready to plan other mission excursions, farther from home. There is talk of an intergenerational trip to Nicaragua soon.
Young Adults–Old First is blessed by a growing group of 20- and 30-something young adults, our biggest single demographic group of “newbies,” who bring energy and enthusiasm to our community. The group meets for informal potluck suppers once per month. And recently the group has provided child care for “Parents’ Night Out.” (Parents drop off their pre-school- and elementary-aged kids for a fun evening of snacks and activities supervised by the young adults so they can have an adult evening out. After the parents have picked up their kids, the young adults head out for an evening on the town.)
Neighborhood Groups—Old First draws its members from across the Philadelphia metro. region– neighborhoods across the city, but also from suburbs some distance away. One way we maintain connections with one another across our geographic distance is to form neighborhood groups of Old Firsters who live close together. Currently we have active groups in South Jersey and Northwest Philly. And we are always open to forming new groups.
Spiritual Companionship Groups—There has also been a tradition at Old First of intentionally creating small groups for prayer, book studies, and fellowship. Many of these groups have lasted years, and accompanied their members through both good and bad times. Spiritual companionship groups are self-directed and gather weekly or monthly for companionship, personal reflection and community service.
Weaving Spiritual Companionship into Church Work
In addition to groups that meet specifically for fellowship and spiritual nurture, all of our ministry teams–from the Board of Elders to the property committee–are encouraged to integrate spiritual formation into their “business” meetings. Groups are expected to set aside time at each meeting to connect with God and connect with one another. Groups are free to structure this time however they choose. And in the spirit of our UCC tradition, each individual is free to “pass” from sharing personal information if they so choose. For groups that would like help with ideas on how to structure their time of sharing together, our pastor posts a suggested spiritual discussion theme each month to this Web site.