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Our History

Grounded in Biblical Christianity, shaped by the 16th Century Protestant reforms, our Congregationalist pilgrims came to North America in the early 17th century. Our church was established in 1857 in downtown Santa Cruz. As the second protestant church, we served sailors, lumbermen, and immigrants moving west. After the great flood of 1955, the First Congregational Church moved to higher ground, at our current site that was 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 adjacent to 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.  In 1957, Congregational churches merged with the Evangelical and Reformed churches to form the ecumenical union of United Church of Christ.  We're a devoted and proud congregation of the UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST -- a progressive denomination committed to diversity and a courageous spirit. After making that commitment, 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.


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