We are made up of people from a variety of church backgrounds and some who have no church history at all. We are welcoming and affirming to the LGBTQ+ community. Our mission is to respect and appreciate you whatever your religious experience or understanding. We invite you to come with an open mind. We promise to treat you with dignity and to respect you.
As a faith community that seeks to serve and learn, we abide by a list of core values that we feel keeps us focused and grounded.
COURAGE: We stand for what we believe.
CURIOSITY : We keep asking questions.
GRATITUDE: We don’t take what we have for granted.
HONESTY: We believe in and express who we are authentically.
HUMILITY: We hold patient and gracious space for differences.
LOVE: We see the Divine in one another.
We meet at 500 Don Anna Drive in Lexington, Kentucky (just off Georgetown Road immediately inside New Circle Road). Our Weekly Worship starts at 10:00 am and usually lasts around an hour. You can wear whatever makes you comfortable. You can park in the lot behind our building, on the street out front, or in the lot across the street.
We believe we have a responsibility to use our voices for good. We march alongside our brothers, sisters and others who have faced injustices and who have been marginalized. We speak up for people of color and the Indigenous People, women, and LGBTQ+ people. We advocate for equality and fairness, and we work toward environmental care and creation justice.
We take a lot of joy in being involved in our community. We believe it’s part of our mission to support and be involved with local community groups and help organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries, We also love working with the Imperial Court of Kentucky, AVOL, Lexington Fairness and other LGBTQ+ organizations, and two of our favorite things to do are being a presence at the Lexington Pride Festival and hosting our own Meals on Heals drag show event that raises money for our Caring for the Kids food outreach. And we’re thrilled to be a part of the Lexington UNITED Gathering that brings together leaders and followers of nearly all of our city’s religious groups and faith traditions.
BELIEFS & VISION
We are united in our diversity to love and serve in God’s world. We seek to be diverse in race, culture, faith traditions, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, economic status, physical and mental abilities, and in all the ways we are uniquely created.
As a faith community that longs for ways to serve, we have established a set of core practices to serve as our foundation. We will affirm and value all individuals and all family types. We will wrestle with tough questions and look past the easy answers. We will advocate for social justice and peace in our world. We will blend our worship and liturgy in styles, preferences, and tastes. We will come as we are and journey together authentically. We will invite others to come as they are, however they express themselves. We will welcome an informal dress code. We will read scripture, pray, reflect, meditate, sing and share together. We will enjoy each other, care for one another, and care for our world.
Worship is the heartbeat of our church, and our goal is to provide a place for worshippers to feel free in their expression. Our music is a combination of traditional hymns, current praise songs, and from time to time a new piece written by one of our members or a friend of our church. Our liturgy is just as varied because we believe that being inclusive and welcoming means we should respect our differences. Our services often include a time of sharing joys and concerns and sharing communion. We believe God extends the invitation without exception, so our table is open to anyone who wishes to come. We have water blessings and baptisms from time to time too.
Our dress code is a varied as our members with some folks most comfortable in ‘Sunday best’ and others most comfortable in more casual attire.
We do our best to live into our calling that no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. In every aspect of our worship, we do our best to live fully into our calling that, "no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."
There’s more to living than just church. We work at our jobs and cultivate our careers, take care of our families and keep up our homes, try to get a little exercise, nurture our relationships and maintain the romance. These are the important things in our lives, and we are ready to be as involved as you want us to be.
Our pastors and our team of elders are available to pray with you and offer counsel, provide friendship and spiritual care at the passing of a loved one, visit a hospital or longer care facility, or help provide counsel when the relationship is on edge.
We love to celebrate when two people find companionship and love, and we always take a lot of joy when they decide to commit themselves in marriage. We do weddings here, and we’d be happy to talk to you about yours.
Bluegrass United Church of Christ got its beginnings in October of 2010 when The New Start Committee of the United Church of Christ called Rev. Marsha J. Charles as pastor of a new church start in Lexington, Kentucky. Marsha immediately began meeting with community members and with the administration and leadership of the Lexington Theological Seminary to begin planning the church's launch and space for services.
Although the church had not yet been named, on January 9, 2011, the new congregation held its first service in the chapel at the seminary. For the first several months, services would be held bi-weekly. The space was made available to the congregation at no cost by the seminary
On September 8, 2011, the church officially adopted the name Bluegrass United Church of Christ and adopted its founding document, "Who We Are."
Beginning Sunday, September 11, 2011, the church began holding weekly worship services.
On December 8, 2011, the first church council was appointed. That inaugural council would write the church's bylaws and would establish its early processes. The council's first official meeting was held on January 1, 2012, and would adopt the church's first official budget at that meeting.
On June 10, 2012, BUCC was received as a new congregation in the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Marsha Moors-Charles was installed as its pastor.
In mid-2013 BUCC was informed of the pending sale of the Lexington Theological Seminary property and began looking for a new place to hold services. On October 1 of that year, the congregation took possession of the property at 500 Don Anna Drive on Lexington's west side which previously belonged to the Emmanuel United Church of Christ. Several of Emmanuel's members would join BUCC. Pastor Marsha and her wife Brenda, along with several other members and friends of the church, would make substantial donations in money, musical instruments, appliances, and other materials. Volunteers worked hundreds of hours cleaning and remodeling the interior space, and many more hours were spent cleaning up the neglected grounds.
On December 1, 2013, the first Sunday of Advent, the first worship service was held in the new building.
Within months, the church was already outgrowing the small sanctuary, so in November 2015, the congregation agreed to rearrange the interior walls and enlarge the sanctuary. The renovation would also make adjustments to the kitchen, entry spaces, and the fellowship hall. The first worship service was held in the newly enlarged and remodeled worship space on Christmas Eve.
On February 2, 2016, BUCC finalized the purchase of the Don Anna Drive property from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference.
On January 29, 2017, Kenny Bishop was installed as BUCC's first Associate Minister.
On June 10, 2018, through a matching funds campaign made possible by two very generous benefactors, BUCC paid off its mortgage. The official note-burning celebration was held on September 30th. That same day, a gift of nearly $150,000 was received by the church thanks to the goodness of Margaret "Peggy" Igleheart who made her wishes known before her passing.
On November 4, 2018, Pam Lee-Miller was installed as BUCC's second Associate Minister.
On March 22, 2020, as COVID-19 began its surge across the U.S., BUCC began holding services virtually. From time to time, later in the pandemic, outdoor services were held on the church grounds.
On January 9, 2021, BUCC celebrated its tenth anniversary, but because of pandemic restrictions, an in-person event was not scheduled.
On March 7, 2021, as pandemic restrictions were beginning to be loosened, in-person services with restrictions resumed. Because several new "members" from across the country had started "attending" virtual services during the pandemic, weekly worship services continue to be streamed live online.
On April 12, 2021, after over 15 years of pastoral ministry, Marsha announced her retirement as pastor of BUCC. Her final service as pastor was held on June 13th.
Pam and Kenny assumed pastoral duties right away and were officially installed as BUCC's co-pastors on May 22, 2022.
Emmanual United Church of Christ has a long and distinguished history dating back to just after the Civil War when many came to Lexington to help the recently freed slaves.
In October of 1891, the Rev. B. Gunner arrived in Lexington from Boston to join others in establishing the First Congregational Church of Lexington. The church changed names and locations several times from its beginnings.
In April of 1969, the now Emmanuel United Church of Christ which was meeting in the gymnasium of the Douglas School had been notified by the United Church of Christ that it was in danger of being dissolved if it did not grow its congregation.
Interim Pastor Rev. A.V. Pinckney, who assumed the pastorate in February 1966, was optimistic about the church's future, and in the summer of 1969, led the congregation in purchasing two acres of property just off Georgetown Street. But without help from outside sources, the church's prospects for survival were still dim.
It was then that former members who had been part of one of the church's earlier iterations began to reunite with the church and identifying as members. The Kentucky Association of Christian Churches also provided support.
Emmanual UCC was now finding its footing and making plans for a vibrant future that would focus on the spiritual, cultural, and recreational needs of its congregation and the surrounding neighborhood. Once almost desert by local and national supporters, and thought to be a dying church, Emmanuel UCC was making a comeback.
On November 6, 1969, Rev. Michael Curry arrived to lead the church as its first full-time pastor and found it optimistic and full of energy.
On June 3, 1971, a permit was issued to begin building a church at 500 Don Anna Drive. The new building was dedicated on Sunday, March 19, 1972.
In 1974, Emmanuel borrowed funds from the UCC Board for Homeland Ministries to add an educational wing to the existing chapel. When it was completed, the space housed a day care center through the week and Sunday school classes on weekends.
Between 1974 and 1987, as the church grew, Emmanuel experienced renewal, but also a difficult transition.
In 1987, Rev. Leticia Rouser, the church's first female pastor, was called, but the congregation was beginning to fade. The UCC conference warned that they would have to close the church if it did not grow, and ultimately assumed leadership of the church for three years.
In October of 1988, Emmanuel paid off its mortgage, and in 1990 became self-supporting for the first time since the 1950s.
Emmanuel UCC faced many obstacles during its long history, and its struggles led to its eventual closure in the early 2010s. Some of its members found a new church home though when Bluegrass United Church of Christ purchased Emmanuel's property in 2013.
When we say we are progressive in our faith, we are saying that we believe the bible grows as we grow. We read the scriptures with an understanding that they were written long ago, but must be understood in a more modern context with decades and centuries of context and interpretation.
Church Clarity is an organization dedicated to scoring churches based on their policies and practices to the larger community. Bluegrass is committed to being transparent and fully inclusive in our ministry, outreach and love. We are proud to have a Verified Clear rating by Church Clarity. You can learn more about them and what a “verified clear” designation is at churchclarity.org.
Bluegrass United Church of Christ is part of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ. The Conference includes UCC churches in Kentucky and Indiana. We are also part of the Kentuckiana Association, which includes UCC churches mostly in the Louisville metro area. Bluegrass is currently the only UCC congregation in the Lexington area.