what we believe
Our congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, whose constitution spells out our beliefs this way:
"The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its sole head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior. It acknowledges as kindred in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God."
We are an "Open and Affirming" Congregation of the UCC. Our Opening and Affirming Covenant is as follows:
We celebrate the beloved community of Christ as inclusive of all people - regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic station, ability level, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity - and affirm that our highest calling is to be fully human, maturing in Christ as God made us, and revealing the glory of our Creator with good works (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10).
Therefore, we welcome anyone who seeks to follow Christ to participate fully, as led by the HolySpirit, in the life and ministry of the United Church of Christ in Bayberry.
(The following is adapted from the pamphlet "Who We Are, What We Believe," published by United Church Press.)
The spirit of the UCC and our local church is represented by these phrases commonly used by Christians:
"That they may all be one" (John 17:21).
We are not as interested in how we are different from other Christian churches as in how we serve the same God and Savior. Our congregation has from its beginning combined people of many different Christian backgrounds or no religious background. We seek ways to promote unity among Christians instead of divisions.
"In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things, charity."
We do not uncritically accept every point of view. But we also do not adhere to a rigid formulation of doctrine. We are unapologetically Christian, but also recognize that followers of Christ are shaped by many life experiences that yield different perspectives and interpretations. We encourage mutual understanding and respect while together affirming the essential tenets of our faith.
"Testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith."
Because faith can be expressed in many different ways, we have no formula that serves as a test of faith. Down through the centuries, Christians have shared their faith through creeds, confessions, and statements of faith. We regard all these as important testimonies of faith, and we encourage one another to bear testimony to how Christ and his church have made a difference in our lives.
"There is yet more truth and light to break forth from God’s Holy Word."
This classic statement was first made by John Robinson, pastor of the Mayflower pilgrims – the UCC’s earliest forebears – just before they departed for the New World. It captures well the spirit of our tradition. The Bible is foundational for all matters of faith. Though written in specific historical times and places, it still speaks to us in our present condition. The study of the scriptures is not limited to past interpretations but is to be pursued with the expectation that God will give us new insights and help for living today.
Like other churches in the Reformed tradition, we recognize two sacraments (tangible expressions of God’s grace): baptism and Holy Communion. Baptism is always celebrated within a public worship service so that the congregation may pledge its support for the one being baptized and his or her family. Holy Communion is served on a weekly basis and is open to all who are willing to receive it. On the basis of scripture, we believe that communion is not an exclusive meal open only to “insiders,” but Christ’s expression of God’s love and grace for all people.