What We Believe
We are a growing group of faithful people called to worship God, learn the Bible, know and love one another, and serve Christ. We call these four things our “Ministry Focus,” and with all of our hearts, souls, and minds we’re working to do these things well to the glory of God.
In addition, we're a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As a member we follow by the basic beliefs and governance structures of the PCUSA which are spelled out in the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order respectively.
There is a lot of information in these two resources that will help you to better understand the depths of our beliefs, but we'll share an important excerpt from our Book of Order. This excerpt comes from the first chapter, entitled The Mission of the Church, and offers helpful insight into what we believe and why we're joyful to believe it.
The good news of the Gospel is that the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people. This one living God, the Scriptures say, liberated the people of Israel from oppression and covenanted to be their God. By the power of the Spirit, this one living God is incarnate in Jesus Christ, who came to live in the world, die for the world, and be raised again to new life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces the nearness of God’s kingdom, bringing good news to all who are impoverished, sight to all who are blind, freedom to all who are oppressed, and proclaiming the Lord’s favor upon all creation. The mission of God in Christ gives shape and substance to the life and work of the Church. In Christ, the Church participates in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity by proclaiming to all people the good news of God’s love, offering to all people the grace of God at font and table, and calling all people to discipleship in Christ. Human beings have no higher goal in life than to glorify and enjoy God now and forever, living in covenant fellowship with God and participating in God’s mission.
Beyond the guiding information provided by our confessions and governance we're also guided by our own understanding of God, and our relationship to God.
Sovereignty of God.
To be sovereign means to be supreme and to be supremely in dominion of creation, human life, and history. God is above us, bigger and better than we are. God is the free, majestic Creator. We cannot fully comprehend the ways of God. God does not depend upon us; we depend upon God. These are some of the characteristics attributed to God as the Sovereign: God is omnipresent, not limited by space; God is omniscient, all-knowing; God is eternal, not limited by time; God is unchangeable, always faithful, loving, dependable, and just.
Dependence of Humanity
To be dependent is to know our need of God. We are not complete or perfect and in our human life we never will be. John Calvin called this doctrine the “Total Depravity of Man.” Another way is to say: “We are all tainted” by sin. Sin is a part of who we all are as human beings. We all need forgiveness, and only God can provide the kind of mercy to forgive our sins and restore our relationship with God.
Salvation by Grace
Because of our sinfulness, we are separated from God and from one another. We cannot achieve reconciliation by any good deeds, correct beliefs, or religious rituals. Salvation is the state in which we are made right, or whole again, in which we are brought back into union with God. We cannot do anything to earn our salvation. Salvation is a gift offered to us by God through Jesus Christ. We are made right with God by God’s loving and graceful action.
Reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
It is in Jesus Christ that we are offered divine forgiveness and mercy. Jesus uniquely reveals God to us as the source of Love that will not let us go. Jesus is “real God” and “real human being.” God Incarnate (in the flesh), and God-with-us. Though he was sinless, Jesus died for our sins. He suffered humiliation and rejection and died a painful physical death. His resurrection is our source of hope. In the Resurrection, the Suffering Servant becomes the Triumphant Lord. The Resurrection is about faith, not proof. It is our source of hope.
Renewal through the Holy Spirit
God is Creator, Savior, and also the Life-Renewer. The presence of the Holy Spirit brings new life. Although we can experience this Spirit within us, the Spirit is not confined to the interior life. It is also outside of the human experience. That is why Christian spirituality is not self-centered, but God-centered and Christ-centered. The Spirit is present in this world, in its ordinary events and in good and bad times.
Authority of Scripture
Jesus Christ is the Logos, the Living Word of God. The Holy Scriptures are the written words which bear witness to him. In reaction to abuses in the Roman Church, the early reformers cried, “Sola scriptura!’ –Scripture alone is the source and test of true belief and the most authoritative witness to Jesus as the Christ. Yes, there are other sources of religious authority, such as the inner experience and traditions of Church teaching, but we rely on sound and strong Biblical interpretation as the primary guide for our faith. We value Bible study and Biblical scholarship. We strive to love God with our minds, remember that, “Faith seeks understanding.”
The Priesthood of All Believers
No one in the church is more important than anyone else. All persons are gifted for the ministry and should use their gifts for the benefit of the church and the community it serves. Male and female are equally called to service and leadership according to their gifts. Members of Presbyterian churches choose elders who have particular gifts for ministry to exercise leadership, discipline, and government of the church life. Ministers who are ordained to the office of Word and Sacrament differ from other elders in their function of leadership. They have particular tasks and training to proclaim the Word and celebrate the sacraments.
Reality of history as the realm of God’s activity
Reformed Christian faith is not otherworldly. We believe that this world, human life, and our history are important to God. God made the world and all people, and the Biblical story is one of God’s caring activity with us and with the world. God acts through history and cares about it, and we are expected to care also. Part of being Reformed is to take seriously our participation with God in building a kingdom of justice and peace on earth.
Predestination is not the same thing as fatalism. We do not say, “Whatever will be, will be,” or claim that every thing that happens does so because God wills it. We know that God has created people with freedom, including freedom to sin, and many things occur that are contrary to God’s desires for us. Predestination does not mean that before we are born some of us are condemned to hell and others blessed for heaven. Many people use the word “election” rather than “predestination,” reminding us that God brings us the gift of faith and freedom for new life. Predestination reminds us simply that God holds the future, not us, and that God’s purposes will eventually prevail.
The Church as the Community of Believers
The Reformed tradition has a suspicion of privatized religion. As Presbyterians, we avoid piety that focuses only upon a personal relationship with Jesus without also emphasizing the horizontal dimension of discipleship. We take the community of faith very seriously. Therefore, we do not have private ceremonies for baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Worship together and sharing the sacraments are central to the Reformed understanding of the spiritual life. Redemption has a communal dimension as well as a personal one. We pray together, sharing in the common life of prayer of the whole church. Unity of the church does not diminish the value of the inner life of prayer. As Presbyterians, we experience balance of heart, mind, and action, in our personal lives and together in the body of believers.
WHO WE ARE
St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church is a community of nearly 1,400 people of faith located in Wilmington, North Carolina. We are a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country and a part of the reformed tradition.
WHAT WE DO
Provide Opportunities for Worship
Teach the Bible
Build and Nurture Relationships
Go and Serve