The First Congregational Church of Pasadena, United Church of Christ (FCC Pasadena), was established in 1885. In 1926, the congregation built a large church in the civic center area of Pasadena, and by the late 1950s, membership grew to over 2,000 members.
Throughout its history, FCC Pasadena has been a congregation focused on inclusion and outreach. The congregation welcomed special needs children to church school and worship, supported women’s rights and women clergy, stood for civil and human rights in our community and voted themselves Open and Affirming in 1993.
A change in community demographics led to a drop in membership. We were also faced with increasing maintenance costs and changing needs of the church, which the building was no longer able to accommodate. After completing a visioning process, reviewing an engineering study and holding extensive discussion, the congregation decided to sell the building in 2017 and to lease space in the nearby First Methodist Church.
At the same time, FCC Pasadena was considering changing its investment strategies because we wanted to do more than just protecting our assets. We had a goal to align our investment portfolios with our values of social justice, extravagant welcome, compassion and a progressive Christian church. We also wanted to nurture our mission and to invest more in our community.
FCC Pasadena learned about United Church Funds through our relationships and meetings with different settings of the UCC – Conference, Association and National. We were drawn to UCF’s socially responsible investing funds, which align with UCC values, as well as UCF’s affiliation with the National setting and the UCC Financial Ministries.
Following the sale of the building, we selected UCF as our investment partner and transferred our investment from a local bank to UCF Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund, with a plan to gradually transfer all our assets to UCF. As a church, FCC Pasadena had two investment goals. First, to establish a Facility Fund that will protect us against losing ground to the real estate market in Southern California. Second, to grow the Opportunity Fund to grant or loan money to youth wellness organizations in Pasadena.
We are proud to share that they have offered more than $100,000 in outreach grants to organizations in the community. Partnering with UCF has allowed us to align our investment portfolio with our values and ensure the proper stewardship of our endowment.
In addition to asset management service, the UCF Institutional Relationships team helped us evaluate and revise our investment policies and spending model. We are deeply grateful for the Financial Ministries of the UCC, in particular UCF, for the opportunity to invest with a partner that understands and helps to develop our own identity as a church and partner in our community.
Looking forward, we are excited about the possibility of serving a broader community. We are already looking into developing a microloan program, expanding the Women’s Scholarship program and remodeling the church into a community space for our worship and meeting needs.