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, merged 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.
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 committees 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.
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:
- Gene Armstrong, Moderator
- Sallie Smylie, Vice Moderator
- Carl Nauert, Clerk
- Samantha Duwe, youth member
- Chase Gentile
- Melinda Haag
- Janet Haisman
- Carol Ingram
- Megan Lewis
- Alissa Lonergan
- Dan Pietrini
- Paul Raducha, youth member
- Sue Saliny
- Jamie Shamhart
- Priscilla Sibley
Deacons. The Deacons’ mission is to accompany all people on their journey of life and faith, in their joys and in their woundedness. It is their mission to nurture the spiritual life of this community by creating a culture of care. Deacons will do so as disciples, by striving to spread the radical love, healing, and wholeness of God through work and actions. Visit with Deacons in the Chapel after Sunday worship for prayer and anointing, and please be in touch with your deacon when you are in need of prayer or support.
Deacon ministries primarily center on prayer and relationship with the congregation, but can also include flower delivery, participation in Meal Trains coordinated by pastoral staff, writing notes to others with joys and concerns, and visiting members unable to participate in church services and activities. If you are looking for ways to be involved, click here! Need help finding out who your deacon is? Contact Deacons Co-Chairs: Ally Vertigan or Kregg Raducha.
Meet the deacons: