our church

Open and Affirming Covenant of Welcome

United in Spirit, we, the people of First Congregational Church of Chelsea (UCC), seek to be the Light of Christ to those who are “sitting in the darkness” due to their often-marginalized place in society. Jesus Christ came to unite, to heal, and to call us into communion with each other and with God. Christ tore down social and spiritual barriers which pushed the poor, sick and broken to the shadows. 

As Christ’s followers in the world today, we seek to intentionally welcome to First Congregational Church of Chelsea (UCC) persons of every age, race, ability, nationality, socioeconomic status, faith background, family structure, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression who wish to know Jesus Christ. We seek to more fully embrace, welcome, and serve those from God’s family whom the Church has historically placed at its margins.

-Adopted February 9th, 2020

Our Community

Located in the beautiful town of Chelsea, Michigan, we are a church of the community, serving the community. As a result, we are a diverse group theologically.

Much like the early Christian communities, we are not known by one doctrine, creed, or formula. We are known by our love–for one another and for the wider world.

Our Members

Members of our church serve in diverse fields throughout the wider community, in both their professional and volunteer lives. We share in common our commitment to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  

In this joyful gathering of Christian friends, all are welcome. So pull up a pew, let us help you find a place at the table, and join in a community of faith that is expressing God’s love for the world in a multitude of ways.

No matter who you are, or where you are in your journey, you are WELCOME here!

Our Faith

Affiliated with the United Church of Christ we understand that our faith is 2,000 years old, but our thinking doesn’t have to be. We believe in God’s continuing testament. 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. 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.

our staff


Rev. Dr. Barbara Edema


Church Musician

Marsha Rinke


Office Administrator Cindy Williams-min

Office Administrator

Cindy Williams



Choral Scholar

Genevieve Welch


what we believe

United Church of Christ Statement of Faith—adapted by Robert V. Moss

We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify

God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image, and sets before us the ways of life and death.

God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

God judges all humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator.

God bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end.

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto God. Amen.

our history

The First Congregational Church was organized on February 1, 1849, with 16 charter members, and was known as the First Congregational Church of Sylvan. In 1851 worship services were held in a schoolhouse at Pierceville. During the summer of 1852 a newly constructed church building was dedicated on the church’s present site, and a few years later the name was changed to First Congregational Church of Chelsea. This was the only church in the village for eight years.

In 1871 the church was remodeled and enlarged, and because it now housed one of the two heated basements in the village, the church was almost constantly used for community social gatherings and village meetings. Consequently, the village council voted to erect the first lamppost outside of the village’s business district in front of the church. On February 18, 1894, the church building was destroyed by fire, so a new one was constructed. On January 31, 1895, dedicatory services were held for the new building. A plaque by the front door designates the building as an historic structure.

The Congregation voted on December 5, 1960 to become a member of the United Church of Christ.

In 2013, with the generous endowment bestowed to FCC from church member, Gary Grossman, the building went through extensive renovations. The basement was completely redone, leaving the north wall exposed to remind us of where this beautiful building began. The church was fitted to accommodate worshipers of all abilities, by making adjustments to address ADA requirements.

In the following year the Grossman fund allowed the church to update their administrative wing, which includes a new space for young children. This brightly colored room includes recent contributions from the Jack Jeffrey’s memorial fund, providing new play equipment and child friendly decorations. Our administrative wing includes a new Pastoral office, a conference room and updated office space.

Our most recent update includes a new sound system that allows worshipers to listen to the service anywhere in the church, be it the children’s room, the basement or even the hearing impaired in the sanctuary. Thanks to the generous giving from the Edward Visel memorial fund, and other memorial funds our church history thrives and continues for generations to come.

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The Rev. Dr. Barbara Edema has been a pastor for over twenty-seven years. She has served churches in the RCA, UCC, and PCUSA. She is a graduate of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree (1994), and her Doctor of Ministry degree (2005). She loves serving the church.

Barb is also the author of The Pastor Maggie Series; the fifth book of this series was released in 2021. The series is about a young female pastor stepping into her first church. Many of the stories come from Barb’s own poignant, holy, and crazy experiences in ministerial life.

Barb is married to Dr. Doug Edema. Doug works at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing as the President of Sparrow Medical Group and Sparrow Care Network. Between the two of them they have six children, four young in-laws, and four grandchildren. They also have four rescue cats in their cozy home.

Barb loves to read, write, and all aspects of ministry. She also loves to bake. Her greatest passion during the last few years has been working in the food pantry of The First Presbyterian Church, Lansing, MI, which is part of the Greater Lansing Food Bank. She worked at the pantry as part of a skeleton crew throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, making sure hungry families and individuals had food during such a difficult time in our country.

She is excited to be back with the dear people of FCC! She is eager to continue carrying out the Good News ministry of Jesus Christ with this incredible congregation.

Marsha Rinke currently serves as Organist/Pianist while we search for our next Music Minister. She is also serving as our Council President. Marsha loves to share music for the Lord. She appreciates the UM students who are sharing their voices with us.

Marsha previously served as Minister of Music at our church from 2000 – 2018. She holds advanced degrees from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and the University of Michigan. She served as a part time Lecturer at EMU, teaching functional piano, music appreciation,  and music history writing. Marsha has a private piano studio. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists – Ann Arbor Chapter, the Ann Arbor Piano Teacher’s Guild, and Music Teachers National Association.

Meet Cindy Williams, our Office Administrator. Cindy is a detail-oriented, self-motivated, efficient problem-solver with a passion for helping teams succeed. She has many years of experience in office, administration education and customer service roles. We are blessed to have Cindy on our staff. Cindy grew up in Pinckney, Michigan and is the mother of five children (four adults and one in high school). Cindy works here at the church three days a week and looks forward to meeting and assisting you.

Genevieve Welch is a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Music Theater and Dance working towards her master’s in choral conducting. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College with a bachelor’s in music. Upon completing the degree program, she was awarded the Billing’s Prize in Classical Music Performance. While at Wellesley, she served as assistant conductor of the choral ensembles and completed a thesis researching the Requiem Mass for which she was given honors in music. While in the Boston area, she worked for the Handel and Haydn Society Youth Choruses in various roles and for the Metropolitan Chorale as an Artist in Residence and as a ringer for their holiday tour with the Boston Pops. She also has served as a student representative on the board of the Massachusetts branch of the American Choral Directors Association. In 2020, she was awarded the Gena Branscombe Project’s Emerging Conductor Award and the American Choral Directors Association Eastern Region Keggereis Scholarship. Originally from Portland, Maine, she is excited to be here in Michigan to continue her studies!