PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.) WHAT WE BELIEVE
We Believe: We are Reformed. This refers to a theological movement started by people like John Calvin and John Knox. It is through this theological lens that we believe in God’s love, God’s grace, and God’s sovereignty. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. It is through our faith in Christ that we are given the gift of God’s grace. We find God’s story of His great love for us, including the life of Jesus Christ, in the Bible. We believe the Holy Spirit moves in our lives telling us of God’s will and guiding us in the way we are called to respond to His gift of grace. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are given the great gift of faith.
In 1983 when our denomination reunited after years of separation, we decided it was important to write a new statement of faith. We feel that its inclusion here is important because it is a way of understanding who we are at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church – Presbyterians and Christians walking the faith journey to which God calls us.
A Brief Statement of Faith
“In life and in death we belong to God. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel whom alone we worship and serve.
“We Trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed, blessing the children, healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain, and giving His life for the sins of the world. God raised this Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.
“We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love, God created the world good and made everyone equally in God’s image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community. But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator. Ignoring God’s commandments, we violate the image of God in others and ourselves, accept lies as truth, exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care. We deserve God’s condemnation. Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation. In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people to bless all families of the earth. Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage. Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant. Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child, like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home. God is faithful still.
“We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life. The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church. The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church. In a broken and fearful world, the spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live whole and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’
“With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
We at St. Luke’s belong to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Presbyterian does not refer to a theological system, but instead to the way we order our life together. “Presbyter” is Greek for elder. We are governed by a group of elders elected by the congregation, as guided by the Holy Spirit. Our denomination is connectional. We are grouped together in geographic entities called Presbyteries, where elders and ministers work together to further our ministry at both the local and national level. On a biannual basis, our General Assembly meets. Representatives from all over the United States gather to discuss and vote on issues facing our denomination at the national, regional, and local levels. Any major decisions made by the General Assembly are sent back to local Presbyteries and decided again at the regional level. It is similar to the way the United States ratifies changes to the Constitution (Congress acts and sends back to the states the amendments to be ratified).
St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), celebrates two sacraments: baptism and holy communion. Both sacraments must be dispensed by a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ. It is a sacrament of initiation, administered only once, by which individuals are incorporated into the church, the body of Christ. Not only do we baptize those teens and adults who knowingly profess faith in and obedience unto Christ; but we also baptize infants and children of one or both believing parents. Presbyterians believe that baptism is God’s act; so, we do not “re-baptize” those who have been baptized in another Christian denomination, because baptism remains until our death and re-emergence into the new life in Christ. The sprinkling of water on the head of the individual being baptized is done so in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Performed publicly, baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin through Christ and the individual’s entry into the family of believers.
Holy Communion is also known as the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Supper, Christ instituted the sacrament of his body and blood to be observed in His Church unto the end of the world. During communion we reflect on what God has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and the glorious, promised future being prepared for us. For Presbyterians, the bread and wine (or grape juice) symbolize Christ’s body and blood. At St. Luke’s we celebrate holy communion on the first Sunday of each month. Rev. Harbison also administers holy communion at special services throughout the year, such as Maundy Thursday, and Christmas Eve.
Please feel free to contact Rev. Harbison
with any questions you may have about what we believe, our polity, or the sacraments.