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Every church has a basic set of beliefs and practices that is peculiar to its own existence. In some cases, we will share some of those beliefs and practices with other churches, while at other times each church has its own beliefs unique to them. Recognizing that first and foremost we are defined by our relationship to Christ and faith in His saving work, there are certain ways that that faith is expressed in our life. In order to best summarized who we are, we could be described as a Biblical, Confessional, Reformed, Presbyterian Church.
Please read the following as each of those terms is fleshed out in greater detail:
We aim to be, above all else, a biblical church. We believe that the Bible, which is contained in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, gives us everything we need to know for life and godliness. We trust that, by the protection and provision of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, living and active Word of God. It is our primary means for feeding the saints and reaching the lost. Just as we seek to bring every aspect of our personal lives into conformity with the Bible, so too do we seek to ground every aspect of what we do as a church in the Truth of God’s Word. The Bible alone is sufficient to govern the faith and practice of the Church
While the Scriptures alone are our authority in the Church, we do also accept the subordinate standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1646). These documents, though not infallible, are a sound interpretation of biblical doctrine and a faithful expression of the historic Christian faith.
In addition, we believe, and publicly confess each Lord’s Day, the words of either the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Scots Creed. These creeds unite us with the invisible church throughout the world and through all times who have confessed this faith.
We refer to ourselves as Reformed because, as a church we are theological and historical descendants of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation. Under the spiritual leadership of men such as Martin Luther, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin, the Protestant Reformation saw a reform of worship, government, piety, and practice of nearly every part of Christianity. From the teaching of the Reformers, five slogans emerged as they sought to reform the church. The five slogans sought to restore five core teachings that had been lost prior to the Reformation:
Sola Gratia: Salvation is by grace alone
Sola Fide: Salvation is through faith alone
Solus Christus: Salvation is in Christ alone
Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is the Word of God
Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory
Furthermore, we are Reformed because we hold to a high view of the work of called, trained, and ordained leadership in the life of the local church. As the ordained leadership shepherds and feeds the flock through spiritual oversight, discipline, doctrine, preaching, prayer, and the right administration of the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), God promises to bless His redeemed children with growth in grace.
Concerning the organization and structure of the church, we believe that Presbyterianism is an accurate understanding of what the Bible teaches. The word Presbyterian is derived from the Greek word for elder (presbuteros), the position of spiritual oversight in the church. The Apostle Paul, in the pastoral epistles, directed that there should be a plurality of elders in every church (i.e., Titus 1:5; Acts 20:17), and gave instructions on what qualifies a man to be an elder (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The role of the elder is complemented by the ordination of deacons, who serve with a different focus and authority. We understand the office of elder to be divided into two distinctive roles, that of ruling elder and teaching elder or pastor (I Timothy 5:17). Both ruling and teaching elders are responsible to provide loving and encouraging spiritual oversight for every member of the flock (I Peter 5:1-3). However, the teaching elder, or pastor, is called, in particular, to “work hard at preaching and teaching” (I Timothy 5:17).
We also believe that the New Testament church gives us the example of churches being connected to one another. We see that churches communicated with one another, supported one another, and distributed Paul’s letters to one another. In the Presbyterian context, members of the local church are accountable to their elders (who together make up a “session”). Sessions are accountable to their local presbytery (made up of all local churches within that denomination). Presbyteries are accountable to the General Assembly (c.f. Acts 15). In a day when moral and doctrinal oversight and accountability are rare in the church, God’s prescribed form of shepherding His people exalts His divine wisdom and care. The Apostle Paul charged the Ephesian elders to “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
We are part of the continued Church…
Our position as Biblical, Confessional, Reformed, and Presbyterian believers is not intended to divide but to unite. In understanding who we are as Christians, we realize that what we believe is nothing new or novel, but rather that we share the vast preponderance of our beliefs with the Church for literally thousands of years. And though we wave the banner of Presbyterians in our doctrine, government, and practice, we do at the same time acknowledge and warmly embrace our brothers and sisters of other backgrounds who also accept the free offer of the Gospel as presented to us in the Scriptures. Soli Deo Gloria!