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Our History



Our roots are Biblical Christianity, informed by the 16th Century Protestant Reformation, and coming to North America in the 17th Century Congregational movement. Our congregation was established in 1857 in downtown Santa Cruz and was the second protestant church serving sailors, lumbermen, and immigrants moving west. After the great flood of 1955, we moved to higher ground made possible with a generous gift from the Cowell family. Our church design, in 1957, was novel and contemporary. At our present location on High Street, we are near the University of California, Santa Cruz.


In 1997, the First Congregational Church of Santa Cruz voted to be Open and Affirming gradually resulting in a more diverse congregation. Our worship style began to change in 2002 when we removed the pews in favor of movable chairs and services are conducted from floor level, not the pulpit.  We gather together around the central round table for communion and prayer.


In 2014, we took a bold step and changed the name of our church.  Since our founding in the 19th century, we'd been known as "First Congregational Church"; but we felt we needed to say more clearly WHO we are and WHAT we're about.


 We're a devoted and proud congregation of the UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST -- a historic and daring denomination committed to diversity, peacemaking and a courageous spirit.  


Having made that commitment, then we chose the name PEACE -- celebrating the peace we find in faith and clearly naming our commitment to reconciliation, justice and peacemaking in the world.  (WHAT WAS THE CHOICE HERE???Note an alternate sentence??? This choice identifies us more closely with our covenant community, UCC, and clearly states our mission to be people of peace.)It was a huge change in the life and history of our church!  We are PEACE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST.  


In addition to the name change, our process helped to clarify 8 'core values' at the heart and soul of our mission, ministry and life together. These values describe the kind of community we want to be and the kinds of Christians we hope to inspire here.


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