A Church for EveryBody

in the Heart of the City

First Parish in Portland has been a place to meet “in the heart of the city” for more than 250 years. Throughout our history, we have welcomed and served everybody who has passed through our doors. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each person; as a result, it is our top priority to ensure every individual can fully participate in the services, activities, and events that take place in our beautiful, historic buildings and gardens.

Our historic granite building, completed in 1826 on the same site as “Old Jerusalem,” our earlier meeting house made of wood, is beautiful and evokes grandeur. But a structure that served its community well in the 1800s is less able to do so in the 21st century. Many of the architectural features that make our building so wonderful do not accommodate full and easy access to its spaces, and this has limited our ability to serve. To continue to fulfill our mission to welcome and serve everybody, we determined that we must make our building and the grounds surrounding it fully accessible and inviting to everyone today.

Our Journey

First Parish launched its accessibility campaign in the fall of 2019. Called “A Church for EveryBody” (CFE), this campaign was dedicated to raising the funds needed to pay for the renovations and improvements needed to ensure that our First Parish campus would be truly inviting, fully accessible, and safe for all at its location “in the heart of the city.”

Our project objectives included:

  • The construction of a second ADA compliant main entrance facing the Portland High School Plaza, with the participation of the City of Portland in Plaza improvements and lighting.
  • Installing an elevator and a new code-compliant egress stairway to make all three floors accessible to everyone.
  • Renovating our community room and kitchen, allowing us to continue and expand our offerings to the members of our congregation and the public who need space for services, activities, meetings, events, exhibits, and special occasions.
  • Enhancing our West Garden by adding a wheelchair accessible ramp, better lighting, and improved fencing, to ensure a safer and more welcoming outdoor space for events, weddings, displays, or reflection.
  • Updating our audio/visual technology to benefit those who attend and those who sponsor events in our facilities.
  • Providing internet streaming capability to make our facilities virtually accessible from home or away, including hearing assistance, new lighting, and visual projection equipment.

The End of Our Journey Is in Sight!

Five years later, we are approaching the official end of our CFE Campaign, September 30, 2024. We are very, very close to making our vision of a physically and virtually accessible First Parish a reality.

If all donors who have not yet completed their campaign pledges pay their outstanding balances by the end of September, we will have the amount we need to cross the finish line!

If you are new to First Parish, the Greater Portland area, or just have an interest in preserving wonderful historical landmarks, we also invite you to help us close our remaining gap. Your gift will help ensure the lasting presence of our historic Meeting House in the heart of downtown Portland.

Won’t you help us provide a welcoming gathering place full of life and love for all who walk through our historic doors, or who join us online, for generations to come?

To donate, click the button below.

We would be happy answer any questions you may have about what we have accomplished, what remains to be done or our Church for EveryBody project in general. Please contact us at CFE@firstparishportland.org.

Best regards,
Church for EveryBody Campaign Team