First United is a church of 600-plus members that is affiliated with two denominations — the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ. Two Oak Park churches, First Presbyterian Church and First Congregational Church, united in 1975 to form First United Church of Oak Park. We follow the polity of both denominations and also have our own unique approach to governance.
May 2021: Church Council adopts governance policies
As part of current efforts to develop a comprehensive Policies and Procedures Manual, the Church Council approved a comprehensive governance chapter. The chapter serves as a compilation of policies and procedures for implementing the governance provisions of the Church’s Constitution, for further delineating the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making authorities of the participants in the Church’s governance, and for setting forth the processes by which decision-making and conflict resolution occur. The complete governance chapter is available here: Governance Chapter.
Church entry protocols during the pandemic: an update
** PLEASE NOTE THAT IN RESPONSE TO THE RECENT SURGE IN COVID-19 CASES, AS OF NOV. 16, 2020, ALL BUILDING ACCESS IS RESTRICTED TO THE ESSENTIAL BUSINESS PROTOCOLS.**
Church Council has adopted an additional set of protocols drawn up by the church’s Public Health Task Force for how the building can be used safely.
The first set of protocols, approved by Council in July, allows entrance by individual congregants and others (e.g., contractors) to conduct essential church business. This set of protocols requires arranging entry with a staff member, working in a space designated by the staff member, filling out a health check questionnaire, wearing a mask at all times, and keeping at least six feet away from others. A link to these protocols, referred to as the Essential Business Protocols, may be found here: Essential Business Protocols
As another step in a “step wise” progression toward full and safe reopening, Council adopted a second set of protocols at its October meeting. This set of protocols allows use of the building by all staff members who wish to work in the building as well as limited groups of congregants for special fellowship and spiritual enrichment events. Limited slots and spaces of different sizes for gatherings are available each week. Scheduling is required through EventBuilder. The same set of health protocols apply and participants must also follow a mapped plan for safe navigation in and through the building. A link to these protocols, referred to as the Staff and Special Use Protocols, may be found here: Staff and Special Use Protocols
Unless allowed by either the Essential Business Protocols or the Staff and Special Use Protocols, the church building remains closed to congregants and to the public.
You can read a pastoral letter from Lead Pastor John Edgerton here.
Church lay leadership
Our lay leadership consists of an elected Council of between 13 and 17 members (including two teenagers) to serve as the church’s governing body. Our Board of Deacons nurtures a culture of caring within the church community. Read about all of our church teams here. First United also has a rich history, which can be found here.
Council. Church Council is chaired by the Church Moderator and has a Clerk (Secretary). Council members serve three-year terms, with a one-time option to extend for an additional year.
All members of the congregation are eligible to serve on the Council. Council members are nominated by the church’s Nominating Committee and are elected by the congregation. Approximately one-third of the members are elected annually in the spring. Council meetings are open to the congregation and are held at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council is meeting via Zoom.
Members of the pastoral staff are ex-officio members of Council without a vote. Church Council delegates specific responsibilities to each of the church’s committees, which report to the Council. It has charge of all financial affairs of the church, including the responsibility for recommending an annual budget for approval by the congregation.
Members of Council are:
- Sallie Smylie, Moderator
- Marteki Reed, Vice Moderator
- Tim Dull, clerk
- John Borrero
- Karen Christopher
- Dave Hanson
- Gwendolyn Keyes, youth member
- Lucas Kult-Banout, youth member
- Megan Lewis
- John Lurain
- Dave Marshall
- Susan Pierson
- Dan Pietrini
- Lynn Raducha
- Sue Saliny
- Jamie Shamhart