Top of Snake Alley
First United Church of Christ
611 Columbia Street, Burlington, IA 52601

          History of the First United Church of Christ
                      at the Top of Snake Alley

As early as 1841, informal worship services were held by a group of German immigrants in the home of John Philip Kriechbaum at the Third and Columbia Streets.  However, it wasn't until 1843 and the arrival of Rev. Joseph Rieger, that a Constitution was drafted and the congregation became an official unit of the German Evangelical Association of the West.  Following this organization planning, Rev. Rieger remained as Pastor for two years, during which time the growing congregation discontinued gathering in each other's home and began to use the Presbyterian Church for services.  For there, the congregation moved to a rented space above Henry's Drug Store at Third and Jefferson Streets.  And then in 1851, the first church building was built at the Top of Snake Alley facing east and dedicated for use later that same year. 

In the 74 years that followed, this congregation known as the First Evangelical Church increased in size and numbers, necessitating the replacement of the original building with a larger church facility in 1926.  This building was designed by V.C. Jones of Chicago with J.H. Hunzinger & Company of Davenport serving as contractor.  It was constructed in the Tudor Gothic style, using two square towers with battlements as the front side on the north facing Columbia Avenue.  Two sets of arched wooden entry doors sit beneath a large stained glass window depicting Christ praying in Gethsemane.  Because of the buildings location on a hillside, there are only two stories on the north, but five stories with basements on the south.  And while the original church was built before Snake Alley was constructed in 1894, the present building share it east boundary with this famous crooked street.  

In the early years of its history, First Evangelical was note for its German Parochial School, and its ministry among the continuing influx of German immigrants.  Another German Parochial School, started as an early mission endeavor on the South Hill, grew to become St. Luke's Evangelical Church.  Zion Evangelical Church, located just over a block away, also had it spiritual roots in the life of First Church.  And then in 1954 all three congregations became part of the United Church of Christ as the result of a series of denominational mergers.  

Today, the congregation under the leadership of Pastor JudyAnn Morse, is alive and growing  Special events such as the Palm Sunday Donkey Walk on Snake Alley and the Easter Sunrise Service at Mosquito Park are open to the wider church community, as is the on-day vacation bible school in August and the Blessing of the Back Packs in September.  Our Sunday School is growing, worship attendance is increasing, and the Seekers Bible Study meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 10:00.  Several new programs for both youth and adults are soon to be implemented into the program. 

Our congregation is very appreciative of the legacy passed own to us from those who have gone before us .  And as we move forward, we do so with this invitation to all..."No matter where you are on life's journey know that you will be welcomed and included at the First United Church of Christ. 
Phone Number 319-754-4807
Web Site:
Coffee Hour 9:30
  Buescher Hall

  Worship: 10:30
We began in 1841 as a Cottage Church of German Speaking Evangelical Christians.  Late on we united with the Reformed Church in order to expand our witness to God's love.  Today we celebrate our continued mission to fulfill Christ's prayer "that they may all be one."

You are welcome to join with other believers in learning about:  Jesus Christ and His teachings through Worship and Bible Study.  We are a church which works together and prays for each other.  At First United Church of Christ all who believe in Jesus Christ are welcome.  No matter where you have been on life's journey, you are welcome in our church.  If you are seeking a church home, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached each Sunday and where people will welcome and care about you as an individual, then our church is the perfect place for you.  We do not have Power Point, or Praise Bands; instead we have a more conservative approach to worship.  Your children are welcome and included in the life of our church.  In addition to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, a children's story is included in each morning worship.  Please come and worship with us soon.  You
will receive a warm welcome.