All posts in “Rockford”

Celebrate the season with Christmas Traditions

Christmastime comes gift-wrapped in wonderful traditions. But especially this year, with so little time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everything feels … compressed. Amid the hustle of shopping, decorating, and attending Christmas parties with family, friends and co-workers (all in addition to the hustle of regular daily life), we want to make it easy for families in the Rockford area to make memories and learn about Christmas in new ways.

So, First Free Rockford is gift-wrapping something special for our entire community. We invite everyone to join us between 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, for this year’s free and family-friendly Christmas Traditions.

Read More

Christmas Traditions 2019

Christmas Traditions: Pray, serve, give

A conversation with Pastor Luke Uran

First Free’s annual Christmas Traditions event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. We’ll have a petting zoo, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, an indoor snowball fight, a stage show, carolers, a kids’ story time and more. Each activity is designed to help families create new traditions and memories while weaving the Christmas story into it all.

We spoke with Lead Pastor Luke Uran about the event, its purpose and the opportunities it presents.

 

Headshot of Lead Pastor Luke UranDo you remember how Christmas Traditions evolved into what it is now?

About three years before we started doing the event, a bunch of us were talking about what would it look like to do an outreach event well. We came up with this idea of a Christmas-themed event with different activities that could be taking place, kind of an all-hands-on-deck thing. I remember us saying, “Let’s make an event that is easy for families. So they can take part in Christmas traditions that their family already does, but let’s just make it easy for them.”

Read More

Halloween Q&A with Pastor Luke Uran

First Free Rockford has shifted its approach over the past two years from a Trunk-or-Treat event in the church parking lot, and then at a school, to now encouraging our church family to spend Halloween evening in their own neighborhoods. We talked with Pastor Luke Uran about reasons for this change.

 

Why did First Free decide not to do Trunk-or-Treat any more?
Headshot of Lead Pastor Luke Uran

Luke Uran, Lead Pastor

We have been transitioning from a church that focused on come-and-see events to a church that is now saying let’s go, tell and show the love of God in the city of Rockford and around the world. In other words, rather than inviting people to come to the church, why don’t we just stay where we are and do it there? We aren’t telling people this is a must. But if I’m standing there with the porch light on, handing out candy and talking with parents and kids, it’s not only gospel intentionality, it’s loving the city. You know, we always pray for opportunities to evangelize, but people were coming to our doors and we weren’t home. The lights were turned off. 

Even if we don’t necessarily agree with the holiday itself, it’s a great opportunity for us to be light in darkness. It’s an opportunity for us to love the kids and families in our communities. 

Read More

Fall forests: A few places to lose yourself

A few lesser-known places in and around Rockford where you can take a quiet walk in the woods this fall:

Atwood Park

Atwood is 334 acres of forest, marsh and prairie along the Kishwaukee River near New Milford, with hiking and biking trails. The trail system eventually will grow to about 20 miles on both sides of the river. Atwood Park is also the site of the former Camp Grant artillery range.
Brian Wahl says: 
“Atwood park holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a true hidden gem in the area. I’ve been hiking out there since I was in high school, and now I take my kids there. Not only are there great hiking trails and different ecosystems to explore, but there’s also great history there with the remnants of Camp Grant, and the CCC and of course the unique Birds of Prey exhibit. If you time your visit right, you may even be lucky enough to catch a feeding.”

Read More

50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Saturday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info
50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Friday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info
Public Forum Event Header 720p

Public Forum on Human Trafficking & Domestic Violence

Learn how Rockford is being affected by human trafficking and domestic violence and what our community can do about it. There will be a presentation given by Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation – RAASE, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office, and a panel discussion with Mayor Tom McNamara, Judge Rosemary Collins (17th Circuit Domestic Violence Court), Lt. Kurt Whisenand (Rockford Illinois Police Department) and Jennifer Cacciapaglia (RAASE). First Free Rockford is hosting the event; no reservations required.

 

**Due to the nature of the content, this forum is intended for people age 17 and older**

Rockford Dance Company

Rockford Dance Company

Thank you for your generous donation of $750.00 to Rockford Dance Company, we truly appreciate your support. There are countless opportunities ahead for RDC and with the continued financial support from our friends we have the foundation to advance our mission of pursuing excellence in the art of dance through performance, education, and outreach.

Rockford Dance Company is committed to providing each student with the opportunity to grow as a dancer, an artist, and as a young adult. We work with our students to instill the importance of discipline, responsibility, and team work–qualities essential to success in life.

On behalf of the Rockford Dance Company family, please accept my deepest gratitude; your gift allows RDC to continue its 45 year legacy in the Rockford community as a premiere performing arts organization.

Best regards,

Emily Cooke

Executive Director

Guitars for Vets

Healing for Vets through Guitar Lessons

Dear Pastor Uran,

Thank you for the amazing $750 donation to the Rockford Chapter of Guitars for Vets from First Free
Rockford’s Jeremiah Fund. The national Guitars4Vets handles all finances and I have forwarded your check to them with a note that it is to benefit the Rockford Chapter of G4V.  Veterans served by G4V are receiving mental health services through the VA. Upon completion of ten weeks of private lessons, they are presented with a brand new guitar with accessories. we have been so fortunate to have Laura Nothnagel as a faithful volunteer. Thank you for your help in bringing the healing power of music into the hands of heroes.

Sincerely,

Trish Rooney