The cornerstone of our faith is the belief that each person encounters God individually and through the community in worship and service. We don’t use a creed to which everyone must subscribe; we don’t teach that everyone has to agree. But we do call everyone to join in, inviting the light of scripture, history, tradition, and Spirit to inform us and guide us to a deeper faith.
Following are some important affirmations of what we believe and how we intend to live together:
One of our deepest convictions in the United Church of Christ is from the Gospel of John (17:21) as Jesus prayed for his followers: “That they may all be one.” The church in every generation has been deeply divided, and we continue to wander away from Jesus’ deepest hope – that his followers would find unity.
The United Church of Christ is a United Church (drawing together four separate traditions) and a Uniting Church, seeking ways to restore unity and harmony among Christians.
As Protestants, descended from great Reformers like Martin Luther and John Zwingli, we claim the priesthood of all believers. Every baptized Christian is called by God to recognize his/her gifts of the Spirit and to offer them through the church and in the world. God’s Word, grace and forgiveness are open to us directly; they don’t need to be mediated through the Church or through the ordained within the church.
Another conviction reminds us to focus on what really matters. So it’s been said: In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity. Put another way: when it’s really important, work hard for agreement; when it’s not, celebrate your differences; always be generous toward others.
Understanding that we can express our faith in different ways and that we don’t define our beliefs through creeds (Apostles or Nicene, for example) we emphasize testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith. We believe various catechisms and statements of faith contribute to our growth as disciples and honor the historic expressions that have come down to us across the ages. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a Statement of Faith in 1959 and encouraged local congregations to use it for worship, study and meditation.
We believe the Bible is the central story of our family of faith. It contains many kinds of literature and all of it reflects the covenant relationship between God and God’s people. But as someone has said, we take the Bible too seriously to take it literally! Scripture is an invitation to a life-long engagement with God. Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson stated “there is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s holy word,” meaning our knowledge of God and of scripture is always partial.
We believe we live in covenant meaning we’ve made sacred promises to God and to each other, but we’re also free. We’re called to love, faithfulness, service, justice-seeking, and hospitality; gathered in communities of faith where we can give and receive. Each congregation is free to act responsibly in the ways it best determines, and each individual believer is free to explore faith in the way that best suits him/her.
These core beliefs are important in our life together. Come and see! Tell us your story and listen to ours and we’ll grow together!