First Presbyterian Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
What We Believe
The Mission of First Presbyterian Church is "responding to God's grace and building upon the strength of our reformed tradition, we, the members of First Presbyterian Church seek to: Proclaim joyfully the Good News, revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; Live as a welcoming a nurturing community of faith through worship, prayer, study and fellowship; and serve others-at home and beyond our community-with love, compassion, respect, justice and mercy, in the name of Jesus Christ and after His example. May God empower us by the Holy Spirit to fulfill our call to be God's people."
Our Beliefs and Practices
The heart of our beliefs is a high view of the sovereign grace of God, and the heart of our practices is a life of gratitude for that grace. Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully human, saves us from our sins, calls us to repentance and to a life of discipleship, and pours out on us gifts for that life. Principle among those gifts is the Holy Spirit, who gives us life and guides our life, who is the bond that unites us with all believers, and who opens to us God’s life-giving Word. In order to best organize ourselves to worship and serve the God of grace, we structure our congregation in accordance with the church’s Constitution, which is made of two parts, The Book of Confessions and The Book of Order. The governing body of the congregation is made of those Elders elected by the congregation, then trained, ordained and installed as members of the Session. Ministers of Word and Sacrament are elected by the congregation and installed by the Presbytery (we are in the Presbytery of the Pines), and serve as equal partners with the Elders on the Session. Ministries within the Session insure regular and appropriate worship with preaching and the Sacraments, enable the church’s fellowship and study, and direct the church’s outreach and mission, both locally and globally. Thus we seek to live out the motto of the Presbyterian-Reformed faith, Faith Seeking Understanding.
The Presbyterian church celebrates two Sacraments, Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.
Baptism seals each of us with Christ as one of God’s people and as a member of the Body of Christ in the world. Baptism is a sign of our dying with Christ in his death, and our rising with Christ in his resurrection. It is also the sign and seal of God’s grace that saves and sustains our life, and of our participation in the covenant in Jesus Christ. Baptism is for the infant children of believers, as well as for children and adults making their own profession of faith. Baptism is for life and is received only once. Baptisms are authorized by the Session of the church, and celebrated during a service of public worship by a minister of the Word and Sacrament. The congregation vows to care for and support each person baptized, thereby undertaking the common role of Godparents. We recognize the Baptism of all Christian traditions and churches.
The Lord’s Supper is communion with our risen Lord Jesus Christ, an offering of ourselves and our prayers of thanksgiving, and a sharing of the Bread and the Cup, which Jesus spoke of as his Body and his Blood. Not just members, but all who would follow Jesus Christ are invited to take part in this Sacrament. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month (plus on, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve annually) in a service of public worship. On alternate months the elements are received by participants coming forward to take bread from a common loaf and dip it in a common cup, or by remaining in the pews and receiving trays with small pieces of unleavened bread and trays with individual cups passed by Elders. It is our custom to use grape juice instead of wine. By prior arrangement, as an extension of this service in the church, the Communion may be taken to members confined at home or in an institution. This sacrament nourishes, strengthens and renews our life in Christ.