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.
Church entry protocols during the pandemic
Although church is not yet reopened for worship, Church Council has adopted protocols drawn up by the church’s Public Health Task Force on how the building can be used safely, and only by people who are authorized to conduct church business:
- A person seeking entry will contact a member of church staff by telephone or email to set up an appointment or reservation to enter the church.
- The staff member will arrange a day and time for the person to enter the building and perform tasks in a space that poses minimal risk to other people who also may be in the building. A reservation book will be kept at the Lounge Desk.
- A staff member of volunteer will serve as a “host” and let the “guest” into the building. Guests must wear masks and proceed to the Lounge Desk to fill out a health check questionnaire. Guests who display visible symptoms of illness or answer “yes” to any item on the questionnaire will not be allowed to remain in the building.
- When in the building, guests must wear masks and maintain a distance of six feet when encountering or are likely to encounter anyone else. Hosts will check with guests occasionally to ensure that they are meeting social distancing requirements.
- When guests have completed business, hosts will make sure that guests leave the building safely.
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
- Carl Nauert, Clerk
- John Borrero
- Tim Dull
- Samantha Duwe, youth member
- Chase Gentile
- Dave Hanson
- Lucas Kult-Banout, youth member
- Megan Lewis
- Alissa Lonergan
- John Lurain
- Susan Pierson
- Dan Pietrini
- Marteki Reed
- Sue Saliny
- Jamie Shamhart