Our Story

We are a growing congregation of creative and curious Christians that worship together and serve together. We seek to live out Jesus’s gospel of justice, mercy, love, and grace. We take seriously the calls to care for our neighbor, to be engaged in the building up of our community, and to be a place of extravagant welcome where everyone, everyone, everyone can encounter the Sacred.
Our faith is 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not.
We believe in God’s continuing work in the world.  This is why we are committed to hearing God’s ancient story anew and afresh in our lives and in the world today.  We try to remain attentive to God’s creative movement in the world. Religion and science are not mutually exclusive, and your head and heart are both welcomed into all that we are and all that we do.  We prepare our members and leaders to be engaged in ministry in the present and future church, and we embrace all kinds of communities and new modes of thinking.  Why? Because God is still speaking,
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
We believe in extravagant welcome.  This is why we insist that God’s communion table is open to everyone, everyone, everyone, and God’s gift and claim in baptism are irrevocable.  We advocate justice for all.  We extend hospitality as a sign of God’s radically inclusive and transformational love.  We teach that evangelism—offering bread to those in search of it—is God’s mission.  Our perspective is global, not provincial.  We work with— not against—people of other faiths.  Why? Because God is still speaking,
Never place a period where God has placed a comma.
We believe the church’s mission is to change lives — individually, systemically and globally.  We work to make transformation possible, but trust in God’s grace.  This is why we insist that our church must be a place of vitality in worship, learning, and advocacy. We are committed to working for justice, and we believe that lives are changed through experiences and relationships.  We know that we are a people in process and that we are still being and becoming who we as individuals and as the church are called to be.  We hold out hope, keep an attentive ear, and set our hands and feet to the work before us. Why?  Because God is still speaking,
We really mean everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome
Too many people and their families live with the pain of having believed that “everyone” meant them, only to discover otherwise. No one should have to guess about the “boundaries of inclusion” of a congregation or other ministry. We begin each service of worship with an explicit greeting and welcome, “In the name of Jesus who welcomed children and adults, the popular and the overlooked, the homeless and the privileged, you and indeed all people are welcome to the worship and fellowship of Congregational UCC. Whether you are young or old, or in between, whatever your history or background, whether your faith is an old friend or you are filled with doubts and questions or both, whatever your gender or sexual orientation, whatever the shape and size of your family, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! As beloved people of God, we gather for worship and to share in life together. Welcome to this place.”
History of Decorah UCC

The history of our congregation tells, in large measure, the story of Decorah as a community. The first immigrants to arrive in this area were English and brought with them their religious traditions and practices. Among their traditions,  was the congregationalist movement with an emphasis on local church autonomy and the fostering of a diversity of beliefs under a common commitment to the Christian faith.

In 1854, the Congregational Church, the original name of the congregation, was founded and its first building was dedicated in 1861. After a period of growth, the church decided to construct a new church on the same site. We continue to use that building, which was dedicated in 1896.

Over time, the congregation has experienced many milestones and events. Educational ministry was started, community outreach initiatives began, and adaptations to the life and worship of the congregation continued to help make faith relevant in the lives of parishioners. In 1957, the Congregationalist tradition merged with other traditions to become the United Church of Christ, the denomination of which we are now a part. Also, in 1957, our present Congregational Center was added. Today, our Congregational Center  is used by the congregation as well as the wider community as a place for fellowship, events, and meals.

As a part of our rich history we are proud to be the sponsor of the longest continuously running boy scout group in Decorah and to be a founding congregation for the Depot Outlet.  Throughout our history, we have deep commitments to community service, both within our community and in the wider world through summer mission trips, support for undocumented workers, AA meeting site, hunger prevention programs, and the school Backpack program.  We also have longstanding ties to ecumenical partnerships and our interfaith coalition.

In 2012, the church completed its faithful process of becoming an Open and Affirming UCC congregation. With this statement of witness, Decorah Congregational UCC publicly and proudly proclaims not only its history but also its hope for the future.  We are a church that has been and seeks to be a place where everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome to be a part of its life and ministry.

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