At Glen Ellyn Covenant Church, we are committed to living God's love. At its core this simple statement is an expression of the teachings that Jesus most explicitly emphasized in his ministry, particularly in what are known as the Great Commandment ("Love God, Love Others"--Matthew 22) and the Great Commission ("Make disciples of all nations..."--Matthew 28). We are also a member congregation of the Evangelical Covenant Church and therefore affirm the following:
The Centrality of the Word of God
The Word of God, first and foremost, is Jesus Christ who "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1). We also refer to the Bible as "the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine and conduct." That is to say, that we look to the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, as our source of understanding who God is and what God wants for the world. We cannot understand either completely, so it is essential that we read and wrestle with God's word together.
The Necessity of New Birth
Jesus told a prominent Jewish leader that "you must be born anew" in order to be part of the new reality he was setting in motion. In simple terms, this means giving one's life to God's ways and God's will for the world or, as St. Paul put it, being "conformed to the image of [God's] son" (Romans 8). Baptism, the dipping or immersing of a person in water, is a sign and symbol of this new birth, knowing that we spend our whole lives growing into our baptism and new birth.
The Whole Mission of the Church
We believe that God is interested all creation and in humanity in particular. This means that salvation is not only a matter of souls and spirit; it involves bodies and the earth as well. Therefore, God's mission for the church involves investing in the spiritual, physical, emotional, mental and social well-being of people and societies. And it includes caring for the earth. Our commitment to sharing the good news of reconciliation with God through Jesus, to setting up sleeping mats for the homeless in our community, and to ensuring that we run our community garden in a way that is good for the environment--these are all part of the same mission.
The Church as a Fellowship of Believers
Martin Luther saw the ideal church as a gathering of those who confess faith in Jesus Christ, commit themselves to each other, and submit to no authority other than Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church. As we seek to realize this vision, our fellowship of believers will be characterized by 1) mutual participation in our new life in Christ: giving of our time, talent and treasure to God's work through our church, and 2) to involve ourselves in the broader, more diverse church around the world in real and tangible ways.
A Conscious Dependence on the Holy Spirit
One of the primary images of salvation in the New Testament is that of being adopted into God's loving family. The Holy Spirit is the "genetic link" for members of the family of God. It is through the Spirit that we are able to access God, to hear the word of God, receive grace and power to live a new life, and to give and receive the love of God to and from others. A conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit is not only for individuals. It is the source that empowers our community to live God's love together.
The Reality of Freedom in Christ
There is a famous saying developed from the teaching of Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius: "In essentials, unity. In doubtful things, liberty. In all things, charity." Part of what it means to live God's love is to exercise humble charity in how we handle the uncertain or "doubtful" things. For us, that means to create space for differences of perspective, experience, opinion and conviction on non-essential matters of faith. Many churches divide, for example, over the question of whether baptism should be performed at infancy or when one is old enough to make his or her own choice. Both approaches are supported by the Scriptures. The freedom in Christ that we practice creates space for both practices. Freedom, to us, does not mean "anything goes," but rather is an invitation to the more messy but fruitful work of reasoning together through the word of God.
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