It’s only natural that you will have questions coming to First Parish for the first time.
Please keep in mind that many of these events have been altered with the pandemic, which has made many events virtual. However, our hybrid-worship begins November 14, 2021, allowing the option to partake in person or from your home. Numerous events have been created to service the isolation that came along with COVID-19, including our Adult Star Program; Women’s Book Group; Lectio Divina reading and listening; Sunday and Monday Meditations; and many more that can be found on our events page.
Your First Visit
What is a service like?
Worship services are both vibrant and meditative. Music is an essential part of our worship. Children participate in part of the worship every Sunday. Worship services run about 80 minutes, and a bit shorter in the summer months. Visit our Worship and Music section for a full description of worship at First Parish.
Will I have a chance to meet people?
After worship services there is a time for coffee/tea and conversation in the vestry (the large community room next to the vestibule). Look for the Welcome tables under a “Welcome” sign. Here First Parish members will be delighted to meet you, talk with you, and answer your questions. They will also ask if you wish to fill out a First Parish Connection Card, where you can give us your contact information, sign up to receive the weekly e-bulletin, and indicate your particular areas of interest. Coffee hour, which usually runs until noon or 12:15, is a great time to meet people and get to know more about our community.
When should I arrive?
Our Sunday services start at 10:00 am. If you can arrive 10 minutes early, you will have time to get settled. You can speak with folks at the Welcome table, make yourself a name tag, or sign up to receive our weekly E-Bulletin. In the colder months, you may want to leave your outerwear on one of the coat racks in the vestry.
If you run a little late (we’ve all done that!), don’t worry–there will be time to join the service when you arrive. The ushers will help you.
If you are coming with children, it’s helpful if you arrive 20-30 minutes before the service. The ushers or folks at the Welcome Table can direct you to the Religious Education office, where a member of our RE staff will talk with you about the RE program and give you registration materials to fill out. Visit our Religious Education for Children section for more information about the RE program.
What should I wear?
As a congregation of many blended cultures, religions, and ages, our dress on a Sunday morning varies from “business casual”—slacks/skirts/dresses/jackets—to more casual, like jeans and sneakers. However you choose to dress, you are welcome!
What about children during the service?
Our programs for children and youth, pre-K through high school, are central to the life of First Parish. We have extensive activities for each age group. We also believe that families should have a time of worship together. Children are in the sanctuary during the first 20 minutes or so of the service and are usually invited to come to the front of the sanctuary for a story, song, or other activity (parents are welcome to accompany their children, and many do). The children and teachers pre-K through 6th grade then go to their classes. (Visit the RE section of our web site for more information.) We recommend on the first visit you accompany your child to his or her class, and then return to the service. When the service is over, you can pick up your child in the classroom, then come to the vestry for coffee or tea.
Several times a year we have “intergenerational services.” On these Sundays, the children stay in the sanctuary throughout the service, which is designed to provide a rich and engaging experience for both children and adults. On a few other Sundays when it is impractical to conduct full RE classes (for example, during school vacations), the RE program organizes a “one-room Sunday school” that brings all of the children together for an activity.
What about infants?
Our congregation includes many young families. There is a nursery specially staffed to care for infants while you are in the service. The greeters can assist you in finding the Religious Education office, where you can register your child. If you wish to keep your infant with you and he or she becomes restless during the service, you can sit comfortably in the vestry and still hear the service through our audio system.
Is the building accessible?
Our building was constructed in 1980 and is relatively accessible—though we hope to improve accessibility in the near future. There are no steps at either entrance. The sanctuary, vestry, and restrooms are all accessible.
Do you need special assistance for your Sunday visit?
If you have questions about special needs for yourself or a family member, or handicapped access, please don’t hesitate to call the parish office during the week for assistance (781-648-3799). On Sunday morning, speak with the greeters or the ushers. We would like to assist you in any way that we can.
Where are you located?
We are located at 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, MA, at the corner of Pleasant Street (Route 60). Please visit the Our Location page for more information.
Where can I park?
- There is ample parking on Sunday mornings in these areas:
- The municipal parking lot behind the commercial block across the street from the church’s main entrance. Parking is free on Sundays.
- The spaces belonging to the town library to the right of the church on Mass. Ave. These are available to us on Sunday morning and evening and whenever else the library is closed. Follow this link for library hours.
- A small town parking area next to the Whittemore Robbins House behind the library. These are available to us at any time, except the rare occasions when there is an event at the house.
- Street parking on Mass. Ave. and Pleasant Street.
Where’s the entrance to the building?
The front entrance is up a short walkway from Mass. Avenue. When you enter that way, you’ll be in the vestibule where folks at our Welcome table will be happy to greet you and answer questions you might have. Many people arrive through the side door, which faces the town library. If you come that way, just walk straight down the hall, through the doors to the vestry (also called the “coffee hour room”), and straight across to the vestibule.
We welcome you to join with us in worship and community.