Theology / Faith - What We Believe
It’s always a great challenge to try to condense - and then to convey - the essence of our deepest convictions into a few words and sentences. Generally, within the spectrum of Christian churches, we find ourselves in the center. The Bible is not written by God, but by the people of God. It is authoritative, yet not inerrant, and we study it with great reverence and diligence. We place enormous emphasis on the freedom of each person to learn and grow in their own way - each one of us in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, rather than to the pastor, or the church, or any pre-set creed. We understand the historic creeds to reflect the faithful responses of those who have gone before us; they may guide us, but do not define us.
So we study creeds and we honor traditions, but we strive to obey the Holy Spirit, who guided those who wrote the Scriptures and formulated the creeds and established the traditions. The Holy Spirit outranks all other authorities. So we are not fundamentalists, because we do not insist on conformity of belief or interpretation. All of us are on pilgrimage, changing and growing all the time. We are not liberals, because our first priorities are to prayer and obedience, to a personal relationship with the risen Christ, and to investing ourselves to strengthen His Church. We believe God transforms lives and communities and nations through saving and healing relationships. Jesus is central, not incidental, to redemption. We try to live with the zeal and personal commitment of the fundamentalists, and with the searching and honest questioning of the liberals. The heritage of Congregationalism (and now the United Church of Christ) is freedom: the church as an association of pilgrims. We expect the Spirit to speak to us and move us at the individual and congregational levels; we do not have bishops or hierarchies mandating directives down to the local church. We trust most the work of the Holy Spirit with each individual who is willing to grow and respond.
Parishioners don't go to church; we are the church. Being the church is not about programs at the church, but about how we all, the church, live and behave and make decisions in the real world where we work and play and raise families and influence others. The life that our members live in our respective communities is the church's greatest outreach. Mission and outreach are where followers of Jesus spend most of their time, our time, doing what we do best, doing what God has created and called us to do - not what we do in our spare time, with whatever time and money may be "left over".