The First Universalist Church in Providence

Welcome to The First Universalist Church
in Providence

A warm, traditional congregation of believers in the heart of historic Downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Whether you are visiting the area, looking for a church home, or simply interested in what we do, we invite you to join us for Sunday worship (weekly at 10:30 a.m.) and our special seasonal services throughout the year.


Ecumenical liturgical worship welcoming Christians of all backgrounds

A founding member of the
R.I. State Council of Churches

The Reverend W. Scott Axford, M.Div., Pastor


What is it?

First Universalist Church choir member

What do you offer for children?
     Child care is offered for small children for the whole service, at the discretion of their parents.  Children of any age are always welcome in church.  We realize that for children at the wiggly stage, it may be easier for their parents to worship if their children are otherwise occupied.
     Older children may stay with their parents for the beginning of the service, and then they have Sunday School downstairs.

What is Bible Study like? (during Advent & lent)
     Bible Study is on Wednesday nights in the Parlor, right after 6 p.m. Vespers.  We read and discuss the scheduled Lessons for the upcoming Sunday.  We look at the context of the passages, when they were written, and what was going on in the world at the time.  Discussions are lively, with plenty of here-and-now references, and there're snacks. We’ve found that people and human nature haven’t changed much in the past 2500 years.

What is Vespers?
  (during Advent & Lent)
      Vespers is a musical evening service.  We hold it in the Chapel area of the Sanctuary, in front of the Pulpit.  The service is in our prayer book, and takes about twenty minutes.  There are prayers, Bible readings, and singing.


How do I connect?



Will I fit in?
      If you are exploring your faith, looking to return to a church, are already a Christian but seeking a new church, or are simply intrigued by what we offer, you are most welcome here.
     We believe everyone is a child of God, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ involves everyone, and that as a result everyone has something to offer.  So we say on our signs that we’re “always seeking new friends.”

How does someone join?
      Membership Applications are out on the Literature Table downstairs in the Church Hall.  Ask the Pastor if you have any questions.  

Aren’t you part of the Unitarian church?
      We became part of the Unitarian Universalist Association when the two bodies combined in 1961.  It was a decentralized, locally-governed consolidation; each congregation can vary greatly from one to the next.  Here, we remain a Universalist Christian church with a continuing Trinitarian and ecumenical tradition of worship.

Why are you called “Universalist”?
       The Universalist Church began in America in the 1770s (out of a variety of denominational backgrounds), teaching that, in Jesus Christ, God means (eventually) for everyone to be saved: in other words, Universal Salvation. We were founded in 1821.


How do I participate?


How do I reach you?
     Leave a message for the Pastor at the Church number, (401) 751-1821.  He checks the messages several times a day, and will return your call.  He is at the Church during its Office Hours on Wednesday afternoons, Thursday mornings, and by appointment.

How do I get your newsletter?
     Sign the guest registry at the back of the Sanctuary, and indicate that you’d like to be on our mailing list for The Chancel Window. Or you can sign up here onthe website (look to the right!).

Are there local service opportunities?
     We’re a founding member of PICA, the Providence Intown Churches Association, and active on its Board.  The downtown churches run a Friday night soup kitchen together, and

collect and distribute nonperishable foods to those in need.   PICA’s offices are in our Church Hall area.  We also make food donations a regular part of the church offering during our morning service on the second Sunday of each month, and contribute to other local organizations.

How old is the Church building?

     It was built and first dedicated in 1872, and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.  At the time, this was a residential neighborhood outside the downtown area.  The current building, a beautiful and warm Victorian Gothic structure and windows, is the Church’s third one, containing some of the oldest American-made stained glass windows in the USA.


Weekly Schedule:

First Universalist Church Providence lithograph

*Sunday Worship & Church School
     at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary     
    (9:30 a.m. during the summer)

 *ESL (English as Second Language) Classes
    Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.,
     in the front of the Church School Room

*Wednesday Vespers
    at 6:00 p.m. in the Chapel area

*Wednesday Contemporary Bible Study
    in the Parlor after Vespers
    (Both held during the Advent & Lenten seasons)

*Thursday Pastor’s Afternoon Tea
    at 4:00 p.m. in the Parlor
    (RSVP by that Wednesday needed)

Our Sunday Service:
     Our service follows the prayer book tradition, and we use the Book of Prayer, the hymnal, and the Bible during worship.  Everything is noted in the order of service.  It may be a little confusing your first time here, but after a few times it will become familiar—and it even starts to grow on you.  The hymn numbers are on the Hymn Board at the front of the Sanctuary, and also in the order of service.
     We have Holy Communion the first Sunday of every month, and on other special holidays.


Where is it?


Sanctuary: Up the stairs from the main entrance on Washington and Greene Streets, or up the staircase off the Parlor.  If you have limited mobility, there is a stair lift available.

Chapel area: In front of the Sanctuary Pulpit.

Church Hall: Downstairs, a left turn off the front lobby as you exit the Sanctuary: Church Office & PICA Food Pantry & Office.

Dining Room: Downstairs, across the Church Hall; between the Parlor and the Sunday School Room.

Sunday School & Child Care: In the Church School Room off the Dining Room.

Parlor: Next to the Dining Room.  There is a side door on Washington Street that can be used for direct access to the Parlor.
Women’s Room: Through the Parlor, at the back of the building.  Look for the signs.

Men’s Room:  At the front of the building, underneath the front staircases. Look for the signs.

Kitchen: Behind the Dining Room.

Fellowship Hour: In the Dining Room downstairs.  Exit the Sanctuary towards the big Washington Street doors, and go left down the next set of stairs, through the doors, across the Church Hall and Office area.

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Copyright © 2012 The First Universalist Church in Providence
250 Washington St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903-3615 Telephone (401) 751-1821