What does FPC believe “in a nutshell?”
FPC stands in the faith tradition that might best be described as “Classical Christianity.” This tradition seeks to understand relationship with God from the perspective of the New Testament, centered on the ministry of Jesus.
We believe that Jesus provides the key to grasping who God is, who we are, and what it means to have a personal relationship with God. Like the first followers of Jesus, we believe that all of life can be vitally transformed through a personal faith relationship in the triune God revealed to us in Jesus, and we seek to explore the specific ways this transformation might be expressed.
Along these lines, FPC seeks to be a community that welcomes all people into this adventure of discovering personal relationship with God through Jesus. We try to avoid labels (conservative, liberal, fundamentalist, etc) and seek instead to focus on faith in Jesus and the world-engaging mission he calls his followers to. Further, we believe that following Jesus into the world can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit who leads us to Jesus, empowers and gifts us for witness, and who is at work in us to shape our characters to be more like Jesus.
What does FPC believe- the extended version
FPC is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church
, and together with all the congregations of the EPC teach the following essential truths of our faith:
All Scripture is self-attesting and being Truth, requires our unreserved submission in all areas of life. The infallible Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is a complete and unified witness to God's redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks. On this sure foundation we affirm these additional Essentials of our faith:
- We believe in one God, the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To Him be all honor, glory and praise forever!
- Jesus Christ, the living Word, became flesh through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His virgin birth. He who is true God became true man united in one Person forever. He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. On the third day He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Mediator.
- The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Christ and to apply the saving work of Christ to our hearts. He convicts us of sin and draws us to the Savior. Indwelling our hearts, He gives new life to us, empowers and imparts gifts to us for service. He instructs and guides us into all truth, and seals us for the day of redemption.
- Being estranged from God and condemned by our sinfulness, our salvation is wholly dependent upon the work of God's free grace. God credits His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, thereby justifies them in His sight. Only such as are born of the Holy Spirit and receive Jesus Christ become children of God and heirs of eternal life.
- The true Church is composed of all persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit are united together in the body of Christ. The Church finds her visible, yet imperfect, expression in local congregations where the Word of God is preached in its purity and the sacraments are administered in their integrity; where scriptural discipline is practiced, and where loving fellowship is maintained. For her perfecting, she awaits the return of her Lord.
- Jesus Christ will come again to the earth-personally, visibly, and bodily-to judge the living and the dead, and to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20)
- The Lord Jesus Christ commands all believers to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world and to make disciples of all nations. Obedience to the Great Commission requires total commitment to "Him who loved us and gave Himself for us." He calls us to a life of self-denying love and service. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)
The short answer is: Jesus. Whether asking “Why Christianity as opposed to nothing?” or “Why Christianity and not another religion?”, it’s Jesus of Nazareth that provides the compelling argument for Christianity.
For example, with respect to the first question (“Why Christianity as opposed to nothing?”), Jesus once said that “Man does not live by bread alone.” In other words, a simple material understanding of human life – an understanding that rejects any spiritual realities – fails to fully satisfy humanity's quest for purpose and meaning. “More than bread” is needed. Continuing the metaphor – though found in a different section of scripture – Jesus on another occasion said “I am the bread of life.” The spiritual bread that our souls hunger for – whether we are aware of it or not – is found in Jesus Christ. So Why Christianity? The short answer is: because Christ meets our deepest needs.
Regarding the second question (“Why Christianity as opposed to another religion?”), Christians have always recognized the existence of many other religions in the world, with adherents that lead exemplary lives. Nevertheless, the New Testament is clear about Jesus’ claim to be the unique revelation of God to humanity and the unique path from humanity to God. Even the devout Jews of Jesus’ day – who knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – were challenged by Jesus – a fellow Jew – to receive the new work of God that was being enacted through him. Jesus taught that it was through him that true, abundant, and eternal life was found. As respectful and loving as Christians must be toward all people, we are compelled by the truth claims of Jesus, validated by the empty tomb of Easter. As C.S. Lewis argued, with Jesus we have three choices: Madman, Bad-man, or God-man. If God-man (Emmanuel, God-with-us), then Jesus stands alone among the great religious figures of history.
What if I don’t believe that, or only believe part of that?
Every one is welcome at FPC, especially those who wouldn’t normally think of themselves as “churchy.” We seek to foster a non-judgmental environment that allows for questions and exploration. Actual church membership entails a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but non-members are encouraged to be actively involved with the church and its mission.
I used to go to church, but haven't for a long time. Will I feel comfortable at FPC?
Many folks tell us that they found FPC to be an extremely comfortable environment to return to after being away from church for a period of time. They speak of feeling like they’ve “come home.” This is a very subjective thing, of course, but it remains true that we seek to be a church that welcomes everyone. If you visit FPC for worship, you can easily remain fairly anonymous as you “check things out.” You will not be asked to stand or be singled out in any way if you are a visitor.
I’m not really familiar with church. How do I get started?
The most common way to get started with “church” is by attending a worship service. Better yet, attend worship for several weeks. This will allow you to get a feel for what church is all about as well as get to know the personality of the congregation and leadership. Once you feel ready, you can talk with a pastor or an elder about other ways you might get involved.
What can I expect at an FPC worship service?
FPC worship services last just over an hour, and include music, prayer, testimonies, offering, a sermon, and often an invitation to receive personal prayer for healing, etc. for those who would like it. Dress is casual. Children may be in worship with their families or they can be either in the nursery for the very young, or may attend Children’s Church for ages 4-8. Bible classes are offered for all ages at 10 a.m. from September through May.
What about baptism and communion?
FPC practices two sacraments: Baptism and Communion (The Lord’s Supper). We believe that these are the two sacraments clearly required by the New Testament, though we recognize that some Christian churches have more. Both are “outward signs of an inward grace” and are anchored in God’s faithfulness and mercy. Ultimately, the sacraments express tangibly the promises of God in the Gospel, and are to be received with humble faith.
At FPC, Communion is typically celebrated on the first Sunday of the month. All who profess faith in Jesus Christ – regardless of age – are invited to receive the sacrament.
Baptisms are planned in consultation with the pastor and are a part of our regular Sunday worship services. FPC baptizes children, youth, and adults: youth and adults based on their personal profession of faith, children on the basis of their parent’s profession of faith. In baptizing children, since the congregation promises to provide for and encourage their faith development, church membership is typically required.
As a Presbyterian church, FPC is part of what's known as the Reformed branch of the Christian Church. Other "branches" would include other Protestant churches (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc), Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy.
Emerging from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, Reformed theology seeks to ground itself on the revelation of God in and through Jesus Christ and the witness of the Apostles as recorded in the New Testament. Theologically, FPC is guided first and foremost by the Bible and then secondarily by These creeds and confessions, spanning the entire history of the Church from the earliest days to present, describe the basic teachings of Reformed theology. A short hand summation which we use in training and spiritual formation are these
People sometimes ask about a succinct summary of FPC's doctrine or theology. Though written centuries ago, The Apostles' Creed provides a classical summation of Christian teaching that expresses well our basic theological orientation.
Who Is God?
FPC believes in the one triune God revealed in the Bible, and incarnate in Jesus Christ. We believe that while God is one, God is revealed in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is a great mystery of faith.
God is loving, just, merciful, mysterious, and active in the world. Above all, the Bible reveals that God desires and has created humanity to be in a personal relationship with the living God. An early theologian named Augustine put it, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Martin Luther called John 3:16 "the heart of the Bible—the Gospel in miniature."
"God" . . . The greatest LOVER
"So loved" . . . The greatest DEGREE
"The world" . . . The greatest NUMBER
"That he gave" . . . The greatest ACT
"His only begotten Son" . . . The greatest GIFT
"That whosoever" . . . The greatest INVITATION
"Believeth" . . . The greatest SIMPLICITY
"In him" . . . The Greatest PERSON
"Should not perish" . . . The greatest DELIVERANCE
"But" . . . The greatest DIFFERENCE
"Have" . . . The greatest CERTAINTY
"Everlasting Life" . . . The greatest POSSESSION
Jesus often told stories that revealed the nature of God. In one (found in Luke 15) Jesus tells of a man with two sons. The younger of the sons asks his father for his share of the inheritance. Receiving it, he leaves home and proceeds to squander his wealth. Hitting bottom, he decides to return home and ask his father if he might find a place as a household servant.
But the father, seeing him at a distance, runs out to him and embraces him and welcomes him home as a son. In fact he throws a party, declaring “this son of mine was lost, but now is found; was dead, but now is alive.”
Many read this parable as the cornerstone of Jesus' teaching ministry. The father – representing God – grants his son freedom, like God granted the human race freedom. That freedom is squandered (the human condition today), and relationship with God is broken. But the father's love never ceases. Sons and daughters who desire to return home (repentance and faith) are welcomed (grace).
FPC is a community of faith that encourages this personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Through worship, Christian formation classes , discipleship groups, small groups that meet in homes, and countless other ways, we seek to discover more fully what it means to “love and serve God.”
Ministry Teams and Leadership
Leadership at FPC is primarily the responsibility of church officers, the elders and deacons.
Elders, along with the pastors, form the Session, which is responsible for decision-making in the areas of worship, Christian education, mission, personnel administration, finance, and facilities. Those who have made a commitment to FPC by becoming a member may be nominated for church office. Terms are three years in length. New elders and deacons are elected by the congregation in the fall of each year.