CREEDS AND DOCTRINES
The question for us isn’t, “Do I believe” but, rather, “How do I believe?”
There’s a way of holding a creed or doctrine that says, “This creed perfectly contains God, so if you don’t accept it, then you don’t know God.”
There’s another way of holding a creed or doctrine that says, “No words can contain God. But they can point in God’s direction … and by looking in that in that direction, through these words my relationship with God is deepened.” (paraphrased from Brian MacClaren)
The Bible is the inspired Word of God that can guide our personal and political lives. A Christian’s life needs to be rooted in the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible was written by people inspired by God to share their experience of God as they faced their unique cultural and historical challenges. These snippets of the Holy are written both with divine insight and sometimes distorted through cultural lenses.
To take little “snapshots” of scripture as if God was dictating specific rules for all times and cultures misses the richness and bigger meaning of scripture. Beyond that, such a simplistic approach has caused enormous damage to people such as during the centuries when biblical passages were used to claim God’s blessing upon slavery or the current frenzy in some churches to condemn homosexuality.
If we read prayerfully, we see God’s purposes and values unfold over the arc of time, leading people to freedom and breaking down social boundaries.
God seeks a personal relationship with each person, and reaches out to each of us through the three-in-one, one-in-three nature of God.
The divine mystery is the Holy Creator, the resurrected Christ, who the sole Head of the church), and the Holy Spirit, who intimately guides us and brings about the creative and redemptive work of God in the world being one-in-three and three-in-one.
We believe that each person is unique and valuable. God has a purpose for each of us, regardless of our age or lot in life, and God has uniquely gifted and qualified us to fulfill our life purpose. We only feel fulfilled as we purpose that purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
It is the will of God that every person belong to a family of faith where they have a strong sense of being valued, loved and equipped for service.
OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
We believe that each person is on a spiritual journey and that each of us is at a different stage of that journey, but that at every stage we find that the fullest self-revelation of God is through Jesus Christ. As we grow in Christ, we experience healing, strengthening and deepening faith, life purpose and release from guilt and shame.
God’s goal for our life-long journey is that we each become more like Christ. 1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.
We believe that all of the baptized ‘belong body and soul to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ No matter who – no matter what – no matter where we are on life’s journey – notwithstanding race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, class or creed – we all belong to God and to one worldwide community of faith. All persons baptized – past, present and future – are connected to each other and to God through the sacrament of baptism.
We baptize during worship when the community is present because baptism includes the community’s promise of ‘love, support and care’ for the baptized – and we promise that we won’t take it back – no matter where your journey leads you.
SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION
We believe that all people of faith are invited to join Christ at Christ’s table for the sacrament of Communion. The breaking of bread and the pouring of wine reminds us of the costliness of Christ’s sacrifice and the discipleship to which we are all called.
In the breaking of bread, we remember and celebrate Christ’s presence among us along with a ‘cloud of witnesses’ – our ancestors, family and friends who have gone before us. It is a great mystery; we claim it by faith.
As in the tradition of the prophets and apostles, God calls the church to speak truth to power, liberate the oppressed, care for the poor and comfort the afflicted. The United Church of Christ has a long history working for justice. We (or our ancestor churches) were the first mainline denomination to ordain African Americans, women, Native American and LGBTQ pastors.