The roots of the Congregational Church are traced to the 16th century in England when the Bible first became available to the common person in the English language. As persons read the Bible for themselves for the first time, they sought to reform the church to make it more in line with the first century church they found described in the Bible.
We are still a Biblically based church: we use the Bible as our guide for life and for church organization. However, from the beginning it was assumed that finite human beings had but a limited and incomplete understanding of all of God’s Truth. No one individual would ever fully understand all of the Scriptures. Also, those first Congregationalists did not feel that God spoke only through the Bible. God could and did speak to everyone and continues to do so even today. Yet individuals may be wrong; we may make incorrect interpretations. Therefore, our ancestors in the faith felt that the individual needed the benefit of the insights of other people. Hence the name CONGREGATIONAL.
Our forebears believed that the whole congregation, gathered together, seeking to know and learn the will of God and using the Bible as a guide, had the best chance of being faithful to God’s will.
The Bible describes God’s Covenant with humans. God entered into covenants with Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and we believe that the New Covenant came to us in Jesus Christ. A Covenant is an agreement in which each party promises to live and act a certain way. “I will be your God and you shall be my people.”
In the Congregational Church we accept everyone as part of God’s family. However, full membership is granted only to those who wish to enter into the Covenantal relationship of the Church. Our church Covenant is this:
We now agree, one with another, to be a part of the hopes, the labors, and the joys of this church of Christ. We promise to walk together in Christian love and sincerity, and to uphold this church, so far as we are able, by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service.
Notice that Congregationalism is not a set of beliefs: it is a STYLE of believing. We do not say, “This is what you must believe.” We say, “Welcome, fellow pilgrim. Come, walk together with us in your journey of faith.” To be sure, it is possible for one to walk alone in one’s journey of faith. However, why would one want to? Our experience is that we are enriched in our faith journey when we walk with others. We give and receive. We share the world of Christ’s church together.
So, we welcome all who wish to be part of the Covenant. We know we will be enriched by your presence, and we believe you will be enriched as wel1 by ours in your faith journey.