What We Believe
God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is over and beyond all that is, yet at the same time present in everything. God is everywhere at once, all-powerful, and all-knowing. God is absolute, infinite, righteous, just, loving, merciful, and more.
In the beginning God created the universe, and the Creation is ongoing. From the whirling galaxies, to subatomic particles, to the unfathomable wonders of our own minds and bodies—we marvel at God's creative wisdom.
God loves all creation. In particular, God loves humankind, created in the divine image.
Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling the individuals, groups, races, and nations that have been rent apart. God is redeeming all creation.
We believe in the mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ. God became human in Jesus of Nazareth; and his life, death and resurrection demonstrates God's redeeming love.
Son of God
We believe in Jesus as God's son. We call this the Incarnation, meaning that God was in the world in the actual person of Jesus of Nazareth. We affirm that God is wholly present in Jesus Christ.
Son of Man
Paradoxically, we believe that Jesus was fully human. Jesus was a person in every sense that we are. He was tempted. He grew weary. He wept. He expressed his anger. In fact, Jesus is God's picture of what it means to be a mature human being.
Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means God's Anointed One. We affirm that he was and is the fulfillment of the ancient hope and God's Chosen One to bring salvation to all peoples, for all time.
We also proclaim Jesus as our Lord, the one to whom we give our devoted allegiance. Today some of us may find it difficult to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our lives. We're used to being independent and self-sufficient. We have not bowed down to authority. To claim Jesus as Lord is to freely submit our will to his, to humbly profess that it is he who is in charge of this world.
Perhaps best of all, we believe in Jesus as Savior, as the one through whom God has freed us of our sin and has given us the gift of whole life, eternal life, and salvation. We believe that in ways we cannot fully explain, God has done this through Jesus' self-giving sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God's present activity in our midst. When we sense God's leading, God's challenge, or God's support or comfort, it's the Holy Spirit at work.
In Hebrew, the words for Spirit, wind, and breath are nearly the same. In trying to describe God's activity among them, the ancients were saying that it was like God's breath, like a sacred wind. It could not be seen or held. But the effect of God's Spirit, like the wind, could be felt and known.
We continue to experience God's breath, God's Spirit. We sense the Spirit in time alone—perhaps in prayer, in our study of the Scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in the memory of a loved one. The Spirit's touch is intensely personal. Perhaps we're even more aware of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers. The Spirit speaks through the thoughtful and loving interaction of God's people. The Holy Spirit, who brought the church into being, is still guiding and upholding it, if we will but listen.
Genesis 1:27 asserts that we've been made in the image of the Creator. Like God we have the capacity to love and care, to communicate, and to create. Like God we have the capacity to love and care, to communicate, and to create. Like God we're free, and we're responsible.
But we do not live as God intends. Again and again we break the covenant relationship between God and us. We turn our backs on God and on God's expectations for us. We deny the life of wholeness and holiness for which we were created. We call this alienation from God, sin.
Sin is our alienation from God, our willful act of turning from God as the center of life and making our own selves and our own wills the center. From this fundamental sin our various sins spring.
Separation from God
Sin is breaking the covenant, separating ourselves from the One who is our origin and destiny. It's trying to go it alone, to be out of touch with the God who is the center of life. Based on the story in Genesis 3, the church has described this break in dramatic terms: the Fall.
Separation from Other People
In our sin we distance ourselves from others. We put ourselves at the center of many relationships, exploiting others for our own advantage. When confronted with human need, we may respond with token acts of kindness or with lip service or perhaps not at all. Toward some people and some groups, we're totally indifferent or actively hostile. Sin is a denial of our common humanity.
Separation from the Created Order
In our sin we separate ourselves from the natural environment. Greedily we turn upon it, consuming it, destroying it, befouling it. As natural resources dwindle, as possibilities increase for long-term damage to the atmosphere and seas, we pause to wonder. But our chief concern is for our own survival, not for the beauty and unity of all God's creation.
Separation from Ourselves
We are powerless to extricate ourselves from sin. Though we work ever so earnestly at various means of saving ourselves—being good, going to church, reading the Bible—these in themselves cannot save us. Sin is not a problem to be solved. It's our radical estrangement from God, a separation that only God can heal by a radical act of love. We yearn for this reunion, this reconciliation, this redemption, this salvation.
Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.
This incredible grace flows from God’s extraordinary love for us. In most of life we're accustomed to earning approval from others. This is true at school, at work, in society, even at home—to a degree. We may feel that we have to act "just so" to be liked or loved. But God's love, or grace, is given without any regard for our goodness. It's unmerited, unconditional, and unending love.
What does it mean to be saved and to be assured of salvation? It's to experience a reunion with God, others, the natural world, and our own best selves. It's a healing of the alienation—the estrangement—we've experienced. In salvation we become whole. Salvation happens to us both now and for the future.
Salvation cannot be earned. There's no behavior, no matter how holy or righteous, by which we can achieve salvation. Rather, it's the gift of a gracious God.
We believe that in ways we cannot fully explain, God has done this through of Jesus' self-giving sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.
As we come to accept this love, to entrust ourselves to it, and to ground our lives in it, we discover the wholeness that God has promised. This trust, as we've seen, is called faith. God takes the initiative in grace; but only as we respond through faith is the change wrought in us.
Salvation is a turning around, leaving one orientation for another. It may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. It begins when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as "just" in God's eyes through religious and moral practices. It is a time of repentance -- turning away from behaviors rooted in sin and toward actions that express God's love.
We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today. That the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That the church is a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ. That the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.
The Bible is vital to our faith and life.
The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament.
The books are of different lengths and different literary styles. From legends, histories, liturgies for worship, songs, proverbs, sermons, poetic drama to Gospels and letters. Through it all the Bible is the story of the one God, who stands in a covenant relationship with the people of God.
We say that God speaks to us through the Bible, that it's God's Word. The writers of the Bible were inspired, that they were filled with God's Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge. God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture. The Holy Spirit works today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life's present realities.
The kingdom or reign of God is both a present reality and future hope.
We believe in and trust the Lord of the future, and we lean into the future that God has promised. God goes before us, beckoning us into the new world that is already being created, calling us to join in the challenging work of fashioning it.
However, when we're confronted with personal disasters or with the daily horror stories of society's ills, we may falter. Hope may seem to be unrealistic, naive optimism. Yet our hope is not in trends. Our hope is in the Lord of all creation and all history -- a God who is still in charge and is actively at work transforming the world.
And what is our role — to sit back and simply wait for God's kingdom to arrive? No! We are to pray earnestly for the Kingdom to come on earth. We are to put away our old selves and clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. As renewed people, we're to do the work of ministry. We witness and serve, we take part in the Kingdom's dawning.