When you come through our doors, you are family!
We are an Open and Affirming Church
As an open and affirming congregation, we seek to reflect the inclusive love of God in Jesus Christ. We reaffirm that both our worship and our membership are open to all believers, without regard to race, cultural background or sexual identity. We affirm all who are willing to accept the cost and the joy of discipleship to Jesus Christ in our community of faith. In 1993, our congregation voted to make First Congregational Church an Open and Affirming Congregation.
What to expect when you arrive
When you enter the church on a typical Sunday morning there will be lots of happy commotion surrounding you. A team of greeters will be just inside the doors to express a heartfelt welcome, give you information about our church and our denomination, and answer any questions you might have. Please be sure to take a name tag so that we may greet you by name. While you are climbing our winding stairway (or taking the elevator) to our historic sanctuary, coffee will be brewing down the hallway for our fellowship time which takes place each Sunday in Jordan Hall. Just stop anyone for directions to coffee hour, we will be glad to accompany you!
If you have questions about our church or our denomination, our Minister, Rev. Bonnie, is eager to speak with you. Please approach her at coffee hour following each Sunday Service or call her at 508.429.8608 during the week.
Our service begins at 10 AM (9:00 AM in July and August) and normally runs about an hour with singing, time for prayer, and a brief sermon. If you are bringing children, they will begin in the sanctuary with you and then, if they feel comfortable doing so, they will leave with the Sunday School after the “Children’s Moment,” which is about 15 minutes into the service. Children are always welcome to stay in worship.
Slacks, jeans or suit…
Come as you are!
Our worship is grounded in the Congregational tradition and many of our prayers, hymns and practices can be traced back to our Pilgrim roots. We are, however, a modern people and are always introducing newer music and forms of praising God that reflect the ways we live and think today. At Holliston UCC, we come from many different backgrounds and traditions so it is not uncommon to see people dressed in suits or dresses, as well as jeans and casual slacks. Come as you are and dress as you feel comfortable. You are welcome here!
Sign up to get church news and updates delivered right to your inbox.
Worship & Welcome Ministry Team
The Worship and Welcome Ministry Team is charged with the oversight of all worship services and our music program as well as with helping visitors and members feel included and valued. We work closely with the pastor, church musicians, the Board of Deacons, and Caring Connections as well as the worship teams of ushers, greeters, counters and coffee teams to provide a meaningful and engaging worship experience.
In addition to our regular responsibilities, the Worship and Welcome Ministry organizes the welcome back picnic and Ministries Fair in the fall and sponsors various special worship services and sacred music concerts throughout the year. We are always looking for ways to improve our worship and for suggestions as to how we can better greet and welcome people to our community. We invite your thoughts, ideas, and participation! If you want to reach us, please contact our team leader, Kate Wood, or our staff, Rev. Bonnie, and Richard A.A. Larraga, Minister of Music. We are here to help you in any way that we can!
Discipleship Ministry Team
The Discipleship Ministry Team works to provide meaningful opportunities for church members to live the calling to serve others as Christ served us. Through education and stewardship, the Discipleship Ministry leads the way for congregants of all ages to contribute to the church and world with their time, talents and treasure. Our Discipleship Team facilitates the work of the church in the areas of Christian Education, Christian Outreach and Congregational Giving. We have many opportunities to help. For more information, contact the team leader, Abby Furey.
Operational Ministry Team
The Operational Ministry Team is responsible for all property-related matters and oversees the financial health of the congregation including the church endowment. Whether tending to the roof, the heat, or landscaping our beautiful church green, the Operational Ministry ensures that physical needs of our church are met in an environmentally friendly manner and that our financial house is in order. Want to know more? Contact the team leader, John Keogh.
Meet Our Staff
Rev. Bonnie Steinroeder – Senior Minister
I have served as a parish minister for over 20 years in both Maine and Massachusetts. FCC Holliston is a special place for me as I was ordained here in 1999. I am passionate about creating a church where generations come together to both worship and serve in Christ’s name and where the theology stems from the understanding that everyone is a beloved child of God.
Paula Colburn – Church Administrator
I joined FCC in the fall of 2011. I have over 20 years of experience in administration and business management. I worked as an office manager for a boys summer camp in Maine for five years before starting my family. I have worked part time with the boys camp for the last few years and joined our family here at the First Congregation Church.
Karen Putvinski – Business Administrator
As a member of FCC since 1999, I have been very active in the church community. Serving many roles in the Christian Education ministries while my girls were young, I have enjoyed watching my children grow up in this church and its community. I hold a BS in Accounting from Bryant University and live in Holliston with my husband Matt and our family.
Richard A.A. Larraga – Minister of Music
As a church musician, my goal is to offer the best we have to God. This includes, but is not limited to, the level of performance, the choice of music, and the beauty of the liturgy. I firmly believe people underestimate their talents. I have spent my life seeing the potential and nurturing the inherent talent in members of the congregation. In my free time, I send handwritten letters to over 30 pen pals around the world. My wife Loretta and I make our home in Dedham with our three cats.
Cynthia Listewnik – Children’s Ministries
I joined FCC in 2013 along with my husband and our three children. Currently I serve as the Director of Children’s Ministry and previously as Director of the Youth Group. I graduated from Skidmore College with BA in Psychology & Government. Although not an ordained minister, I hold an MSW from Boston College and have been a life-long advocate for children. I serve the community as a member of the Holliston School Committee. In my spare time, I enjoy singing with Exsultet!, roasting coffee, reading and raising my three spirited children to be loving, responsible, caring individuals.
Shel Frolich-Tscherne – Youth Group Director
A born and raised member of the UCC, I grew up in Bethany Connecticut and currently am an active member of the Plymouth Church in Framingham. There I serve on the board of Deacons, working closely with the Junior Deacons. I am also chair of Women’s Fellowship. My husband David and I live with our daughters Grace and Emma in in a sweet, old farmhouse in Marlborough.
Judy doCurral – Executive Director, HCCC
I have been in the early childhood field since 1989. While taking a short hiatus from the program, I’ve been with HCCC since 1992. I’ve worn many hats here and can truly appreciate all that goes into being an early childhood professional at any stage. With a Bachelor’s Degree from MCLA and a Master’s Degree from the University of South Carolina, I have a passion for working with both children and teachers. It is exciting for me to see the wonder in a person of any age’s face when they discover something new. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family exploring the great outdoors.
Janelle Montanez – Assistant Director, HCCC
I started with HCCC in October of 2005 as a preschool teacher and became the Assistant Director in 2012. I worked in the early childhood field in various capacities and with various age groups since 1999. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Education and Care from UMass and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Framingham State University. My favorite thing about working with young children is watching their delight when accomplishing something new. When not working, I am a wife, and mom of two children. I also love to bake, and decorate cakes.
Lou Guyott – Sexton
I have many years of experience in the construction industry and recently retired after working over 15 years as a maintenance superintendent. My wife and I live in Franklin. We have a daughter and two grandsons in Rhode Island and also a son who lives in Baltimore. I enjoy outdoor activities such as boating and fishing.
Todd Keiller – Moderator
I have enjoyed being a member at FCC for over 35 years. I have been on most committees over those years and am honored to now serve as your moderator. As moderator, I hope to work with our new Leadership Counsel structure, which was implemented July, 2019. It is intended to streamline our functions and lesson the burden on our many volunteers. My wife Diane and I live in Hopkinton. We have two grown children who live in the Boston area, both of whom were confirmed in this church.
Bert Cote – Treasurer
I was born in Price Quebéc, Canada. Population:480. I immigrated to the United States in 1960, and became a citizen in 1969. I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, along with my younger brother, Tony, which is where I found my passion for sailing and American History.
Nicole Rossi – Clerk
I am originally from Shrewsbury and attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester. A developmental psychologist, I’ve been teaching in the Psychology Department at Framingham State University since 2012. I moved to Holliston in 2015, after being introduced to the church by Evelyn Perry and chose it for its warm, welcoming, and supportive sense of community. I have two sons, Zachary and Jackson.
Meet Our Deacons
Left to right: Peter Martel, David McCloskey, Pam Kyrka, Jessie Evers, Kitty Baker, Rev. Bonnie Steinroeder, David Simpson, Jane Murdock, Kiki Lansdale, Scott Montain, Andy Sykes
Early settlers found the twelve-mile trip to Sherborn too far to go for their weekly meetings. After 50 years, 13 families asked to be set apart with their own meeting house. On December 3, 1724 the General Court granted their petition with this amendment “Saving that the western part of Sherborn be a town and not a precinct.”
The town, Holliston, was named after Thomas Hollis, a wealthy merchant from England, who had given money to Harvard (University) for scholarships. In January of 1725 five selectmen and the constable met and voted to build a meeting house “to worship God in on Lord’s Day and place it on the southeasterly side of Jasper’s Hill so called, on the westerly side of the road on the most rising ground—which is on the Honorable Col. Browne’s farm.”
In December 1726 the selectmen met to find a minister of the Gospel. They spoke to a young James Stone, who had graduated from Harvard in 1724 and was teaching in Framingham. When word reached London that one of his own Scholarship men had become the first minister of the church in the town that was named in his honor, Thomas Hollis responded by sending over a costly 1679 pulpit Bible. This Bible is still in use in our sanctuary today. It was rebound in memory of Frank Wesley Smith in 1962.
Finally the meeting house was ready and, on November 7, 1728, it was noted “to hold a day of fasting and prayer to seek God’s favor in the gathering and settling a church in said town, and that Wednesday being the 20th day of the same month should be the day with God’s leave for the Ordaining the Reverend Mr. James Stone.”
The seven men who took letters of dismissal from the church in Sherborn to become the founders with the minister of the new Church were William Sheffield, John Goulding, Jonathan Whitney, Timothy Lealand, Isaac Bullard, Thomas Marshall, and Edmond Morse (see the Founders’ plaque).
The first church building served for nearly one hundred years, plain, unheated, and furnished with backless benches, for the men on the left side of the great doors, and for the women on the right (see the floor plan of the Old Meeting House as it was in 1730 on the wall outside of Jordan Hall).
In 1820 the Church School was organized and a new meeting house was planned and built. It was completed in late 1822. Some of the materials used were salvaged from the original meeting house and other materials were used to build the Town Hall. The clock and bell were presented soon after. Stoves were installed for warmth and during this period whale oil lamps provided illumination for the sanctuary. It’s interesting to note that, at this time in the Church’s history, all Church business was transacted at Town Meeting. This practice continued until separation in 1836.
Before the first small organ was added in 1837, everyone who owned a musical instrument was urged to bring it to Church to lead the music. It is written in the Church history that this created such a chaos of sound that the idea was soon abandoned.
Since early in the 1800’s, our Church had a missionary society that has responded to needs at home and across the world. Later, with a membership of over 400, the church was sawed open and 20 feet were added. This made possible the organ loft and room for the choir, with a parlor beneath. The entire building was raised, the vestry added, and the organ moved to its present location.
In the early 1870’s, women were allowed to vote in Town Meeting for the first time. Soon after gaining voting status the ladies, at their own expense, added a kitchen, paid for town water to be installed, and purchased carpeting.
In 1894 it was voted to dissolve the organization known as “The First Parish of Holliston” and to form a new church organization incorporated as the First Congregational Church of Holliston. A pledge system to raise funds also began at this time with pledges ranging from $0.02 to $0.50 per week.
The present tower clock was added in April 1903 and steam heat was added in 1921. The present parsonage was inherited from Dr. Lake on Hollis Street. In 1930, the 61 horse sheds, next to the Church sanctuary, were removed. The Church merged with the Methodist Church in 1931. Shortly after this occurred, the Church conveyed to the Town of Holliston the land on which the Town Hall now stands.
Jordan Hall and the office wing were added in 1953. Faith Chapel was added as well as several small classrooms for its Sunday School. In 1960, the Education Wing was added, giving extra space for the Sunday School and the kindergarten.
In 1993, the building became handicap accessible and the Congregation voted to become an “open and affirming” Church.
There is a wonderful, more inclusive history, The First 250 Years of our Church in the office, offering a myriad of exciting events that occurred during each pastor’s tenure. The church around which the town was built: First Congregational Church, U.C.C.
In 2009 the First Congregational Church welcomed its first female pastor, Bonnie Steinroeder.
In 2017 the Church elected its first female moderator, Bonnie Weigl.
Church Steeple Raising – October 2009
The United Church of Christ
The First Congregational Church of Holliston is a member of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Formed in 1957 through the merger of three protestant denominations, the United Church of Christ actively seeks to bring together believers of many different cultures and backgrounds to live as one body of Christ on Earth.
The UCC is non-creedal but has a statement of faith on their website. We are congregational in nature, meaning that all decisions are made by the members of the local churches, yet we are bound in covenant to an Association (we are members of the Central Association) and a Conference (the Southern New England Conference). Our National organization is housed in Cleveland, Ohio.
Our mutual covenant allows us to operate independently yet receive the support and care of our UCC brothers and sisters in faith. For more information on the United Church of Christ visit the website at www.ucc.org.
Requesting & Renting Church Facilities
Due to the continuing COVID-19 and the State regulations surrounding the operation of our childcare program, until further notice we are not able to accommodate any rentals of our church building. This page will be updated as this restriction is lifted. Please check back here for updates.
Residents of the Town of Holliston and surrounding communities are welcome to request use of the building and facilities of the First Congregational Church for their activities and events. Members of the church are welcome to request use of the building and facilities for their personal activities. Members of the church are not required to pay fees for use of spaces, but a donation is welcome and appreciated.
Please note that there are some guidelines that we need to observe when using rooms in the church.
Smoking and illegal drugs are prohibited anywhere within the church building and on the grounds surrounding the building.
The entire church is a “nut-free” facility. Please refrain from bringing nuts and foods containing nut products into the building or on the grounds of the church.
For information regarding church rentals please contact Paula Colburn or call 508-429-8608 ext 301.
When You Come Through Our Doors, You Are Family!
We are a congregation who actively seeks to incorporate the gospel message of love, compassion and hope into our daily lives.