Our heritage comes out of the Reformed movement, which means that we look back to the Protestant Reformation for many of our ideas, traditions, and worship ways. But at the same time we affirm that God's word continues to unfold in the world, revealing new possibilities for human life and sometimes challenging old ideas and practices. Here are some examples of how we think about the Christian faith at St. Paul's UCC:
We believe in the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we speak of the Creator as Father we do not mean to say that God is masculine, but rather we honor the intimate way in which Jesus of Nazareth spoke to God. When we call God "Father" we affirm that we share with Jesus that same intimate and familial relationship with our Creator, the source of our being.
We believe that Jesus is the Christ, God's beloved Son. We affirm the humanity and divinity of Jesus, in whom "the Word became flesh and lived among us" to bless the world with God's peace. In him we receive forgiveness of sin, fullness of grace, and the courage to live as servants in the service of others. We call Jesus "Lord" because we believe that his life and teachings reveal what is most true and powerful about human life: forgiveness, mercy, compassion, humility, gentleness. By calling Jesus "Lord" we strive to honor the reign of God's peace in our lives, praying that our lives may be ordered in accordance with the example of Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection revealed the victory of God's love.
About the Bible
We read the Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, as the inspired word of God, understanding that it comes to us through human hands and that it reflects the experiences and understandings of various human communities through the ages. When we interpret the Bible we strive to be attentive to the guidance of the Spirit which we believe to be at work not only in the mind of each member but also in the wider life of the community. Each person is encouraged to think for himself or herself, and when it comes to biblical interpretation we feel that disagreement is not at all a bad thing!
We believe that everyone is a beloved child of God, and that in Christ we have been united as sisters and brothers, reconciled to one another. We affirm that our unity in Christ breaks through every barrier to full inclusion in human communities. Long ago the apostle Paul wrote about this in relation to some of the social barriers that existed in the church of his day, saying "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." We wholeheartedly agree with this vision and strive to make it our own to overcome the social divisions that exist in our own culture.
We believe that diversity is a gift from God, and we treasure it! This is one reason why, in the United Church of Christ, we speak of "testimonies of faith" rather than "tests of faith." Our members come from different traditions and walks of life, and every one of us brings a unique perspective and understanding to the faith that we share. We are not looking for people to conform to one way of thinking and believing. Instead, we are looking for faithful friends who will covenant to walk together in life's journey, sharing joys and sorrows, offering love, support, care, and challenge to one another.
We believe that children are full members of the Christian community. As Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Children are always welcome in worship, and are encouraged to bring their questions and share their gifts in the life of the church.