Our Purpose . . .
The purpose of the Church is, through the worship of God, preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, celebration of the Sacraments, to be a sanctuary of the Spirit, to an Open and Affirming church, a friendly fellowship, a source for development of Christian character, a center of helpful service, a force for civic righteousness, justice and peace, a power for God throughout the world, and an unfailing spring of inner refreshment and strength, open to all who come.
Polity . . .
The governance of the Church shall be vested in its members, who exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Church, as a member of the United Church of Christ; pledges to share its common aims and goals, and to cooperate with all churches which seek to promote the Kingdom of God.
Covenant . . .
Bound together as a Christian Church, and dependent upon the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us, we covenant to walk in all our ways according to the rule of the Gospel, in mutual love and respect for one another, to strive to carry out the teachings of Jesus Christ, and to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves.
A Covenant for Christian Communication
As people called to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we acknowledge his teaching in Matthew 18:15-17, 21-22 and the Holy Spirit’s leadership in Ephesians 4: 15 concerning communication. As a Christian congregation in covenant with Christ as the Head of the Church, we accept responsibility to make God’s teaching our watchwords.
Scripture Regarding Communication
Matthew 18:15-17, 21-22
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. …”
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ.
Guidelines Concerning Communication
When we hear something that raises concerns for us, we shall first make every effort to speak directly, one-to-one with the person involved. A member of the PPRC or the Pastor may be asked to coach us in advance, or to be present to witness communication as Jesus specifies at step two of the Matthew 18 process. If talking one-to-one or with one or two others fails, then concerns may be referred to the relevant group in the church or as a last resort to the whole congregation.
In order to speak truth in love, we shall speak for ourselves using “I” statements, not claiming to represent others or using accusatory “you” statements.
When difficult subjects need to be named, we shall pray for all concerned and seek the guidance of the PPRC or Pastor for help in speaking the truth in love.
We accept that understanding and respecting each other does not necessarily mean agreeing with each other.
We affirm that the Holy Spirit may speak through any of us, so that all of us deserve a respectful hearing, even though congregational decisions are made in person by majority vote.
While all people are welcome in Christian communities, behavior that is unchristian (for example, threatening, taunting, demeaning, abusing, harassing or attacking) conflicts with Christ’s teaching and will not be tolerated.
Copyright Washburn-Arakawa, revised 2017