“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Rupertus Meldenius, German Lutheran Theologian, 1637
In Essentials Unity
- The Bible is our authoritative standard for belief and conduct (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It’s transforming power directs the church, and the life of all who follow it (Hebrews 4:12). It shapes our faith, our beliefs and our behavior because it is central to all of life.
- Trust in Jesus as our Savior from sin and Lord of our life is critical (Romans 6:23). Faith in Jesus is a maturing, lifelong process for both individuals and communities of Christians (Ephesians 2:1-10). As God forms and transforms us, He changes our world (John 3:16-17).
- We have “Good News” for the world (Matthew 28:19-20). We want everyone to experience the life, hope and purpose we’ve discovered in Jesus (John 10:10). This also includes ministries of compassion, mercy and justice (Matthew 25:40; Micah 6:8).
- We are committed to each other as Christians (Galatians 3:26-28). The church is far more than an institution or building, it’s a gathering of people seeking to love and serve God (Ephesians 2:19-22). We can do much more when we’re together than when we are by ourselves. We are all different and unique, but we seek to love and care for each other, united by Christ (Romans 12:4-5).
- We depend on God’s Holy Spirit to help us live out these beliefs and values. The Holy Spirit shapes Christ-like character in us (Galatians 5:22-25), and helps us practice what Christ taught (John 14:26). Apart from the Holy Spirit we can do nothing that lasts (John 15:5, 26).
In Non-Essentials Liberty (Freedom)
We believe in freedom (Galatians 5:1) to believe. Freedom from the power of things that tend to divide, is the most unique aspect of our church. Freedom manifests itself in a right relationship with God, and others (Romans 15:5-6). It is not meant to be used selfishly but in humility with concern for others. We offer freedom to one another to differ on issues of belief and practice where the biblical and historical record seems to allow for a variety of interpretations. We seek to focus on what unites us, essentials, rather than on what divides us. One Swedish immigrant put it this way: “If we’re going to be in heaven together, can we be on earth together?” We have learned to “agree to disagree” on non-essential matters.
In All Things Charity (Love)
The greatest commandments are to love God and others (Matthew 22:37-39). While we do this imperfectly, we seek to be a healthy, loving church. Healthy means we admit we’re not perfect (1 John 1:8-10). This means, at some point, the church will let you down . . . and you may let the church down. However, in a spirit of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), we will seek to address concerns (Matthew 18:15-17) and stay united together. Jesus came in grace and truth (John 1:14; Luke 15), and we need both to be a healthy, loving church.