from The Reverend Allan Cole, Rector at St. Paul's...
We are all, individually and collectively, on the journey to wholeness and unity with Everyone, especially the people who don’t look like us or think like we do. We feel that our call to the Christian faith and following Jesus’ way of life demands that we care about all people and respect everyone’s dignity as a human being. We are moved by the Holy Spirit to give of ourselves for the sake of the whole world, just like Jesus did.
We want St. Paul’s to be your new church home. If you feel as though the typical “good Christian” label doesn’t fit you, don’t worry, it doesn't fit many of us either. We are by no means a perfect community. We have our unique issues and our growing edges. We are broken — all of us — and we are only made whole by God’s grace.
That grace has given each of us a home at St. Paul’s and we want the same for you.
We hope St. Paul’s is that place. If it’s not, then let me help you find a place that you can call home, a place where you can give your heart over to the care of God and a people who will love you no matter what.
God loves humanity more than we can ask for or imagine. We are all called to pass that love forward.
The mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to live out the love of God as seen in Jesus Christ.
We will with God's help:
Discover God's presence in Word and Sacrament,
Share God's word,
Nurture God's people,
Encourage congregational and personal growth on our shared journey, and
Act justly and peaceably.
What We Believe
The Episcopal Church is bending over backwards to make room for all people and the varying degrees and combinations of belief and doubt we each might have. The spectrum of acceptable beliefs is broad. This means the Episcopal Church has often been criticized (or celebrated) for being noncommittal when it comes to matters of doctrine, leaving the details of those beliefs to the theologians to hammer out. And, while it is true that worshipping together and participating together in the life of the risen Christ are considered above all else, the Episcopal Church cannot be characterized correctly, however, as having no doctrine. We believe in God. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit. Of course, how we reflect those beliefs is also important. Our hope is that in living out what we believe we reflect God’s love above all other things.
The Nicene Creed
The Episcopal Church does not unite itself around creeds but around table fellowship and inclusivity. We view the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of our faith but not the only statement of our faith. Still, by itself, it says enough.
The Nicene Creed is intended to be recited in the context of the community’s worship. It is not a personal statement of faith. It is, however, an important part of the worship life of the church because it reminds us of who we are, namely, a community of people who acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, who see in Jesus Christ a human expression of God’s redeeming work, and who depend on God to bring us home to full union with God, all of creation, and each other.
The Nicene Creed may be the most controversial document in the Christian church. Many Christians find solace in the words we recite each Sunday, while many others are uncomfortable saying them. Some even find the words of the Nicene Creed a barrier to coming to church.
We need free and open discussion about the Nicene Creed so that we can overcome the all or nothing attitude. We can acknowledge that the Creed is a faithful representation of the Church’s vision of itself as a community that believes. We can also acknowledge that prior to the Nicene Creed, or any other doctrinal statement, is humanity’s experience of God. We honor this foundational experience through the Nicene Creed.
Is it necessary for one to believe each and every tenant of the Nicene Creed in order for one to be a Christian? The answer to that gnawing question is a rather clear “No.” The Nicene Creed is the community’s expression of faith, not the individual’s. While an individual’s beliefs are held dear, there is more going on in the Nicene Creed than we are expected to comprehend on our own. The Nicene Creed is an invitation to faith as a community and as such, it calls us into a conversation.
We are blessed to live in a time when God’s one holy and universal Church is struggling openly to honor the wide range of God's given manifestations of human sexuality. The one thing we can be sure of is that the God of Love is with us in this struggle. Recent events in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have highlighted our vocation to grow in a direction where, as our Presiding Bishop says, "we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people." This is a high calling, and one that demands love and faith, "even for those with whom we disagree." Bishop Curry reminds us, and at St. Paul's we aspire to live his words: "We are part of the Jesus Movement, and the cause of God’s love in this world can never stop and will never be defeated."
We need only to leave our hearts open, to be present with each other, and to let God lead us.
Participation: Baptism & Communion
The intertwined sacraments of Baptism and Communion are central to the worship of the Church. There is no such thing as Communion without Baptism, whether Baptism comes from the Holy Spirit or through the Rite of Baptism as experienced in the Church.
So, all who are called to Communion are called through Baptism.
It is unfortunate that the above statement does not get “unpacked” for the person who participates in worship, particularly the visitor who desires to be a part of a worshipping community.
Our practice is to invite all to receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion. The sacramental understanding that precedes this invitation is that we are all children of God and that the rite of Baptism, like the water that is used in it, is an “outward and visible sign” of our “inward and spiritual grace.” That particular understanding carries an assumption of baptism by the Holy Spirit. It may be a more liberal view of participation in the sacramental life of the church, but it does not exclude, we hope, anyone from the grace and forgiveness inherent in the sacraments that our Savior instituted.
This viewpoint does not dismiss the requirements of the Baptismal Covenant. Particularly important to our participation in the baptismal life is the renunciation of all the things which “destroy the creatures of God,” along with the commitments to “strive for justice and peace among all people” and to “respect the dignity of every human being.” For the full text of the rite of Holy Baptism and the Baptismal Covenant, visit: http://www.bcponline.org/Baptism/holybaptism.html