Certain values underlie our self-understanding of what it means to be the Church. In a society, increasingly distant from exercising true Biblical values, and in the Church which is being assailed on all sides and within, it becomes necessary for us to define our faith community clearly by declaring in both uncompromising and unambiguous terms the values and principles upon which we stand (1COR 14:8; 1TIM 4:1; 2TIM 3:1-4:5). Defining who we are is to declare the ground upon which we take our stand as the people of God, both to that society in which we find ourselves and of which we are members, as well as to the Anglican church with which we are formally identified. Although values are not seen, they do act as the blueprint that governs all our outreach and practice. Certain priorities arise from our values and determine the specific focus for all our ministries and for our understanding of what it means to be the Church.
Please understand that these theological values are not our attempt to present an authoritative or complete synopsis of the Christian faith as embraced by the Anglican tradition.
“Values and Priorities” has a twofold function: it seeks to affirm certain fundamental truths of the faith that today are being questioned, challenged or undermined by secularist influence and by certain factions within the church; and, it seeks to identify and articulate certain aspects of faith and practice that are part of the self-understanding of this particular congregation.It is our understanding that no one section of this document is to be interpreted in isolation, but rather in the context of the whole and in the light of Holy Scripture.Clearly, it is not the intention to present “Values and Priorities” as a final and definitive document, for the process of theological reflection and practice in which the Church has always been engaged is ongoing. As the church continues to meet the challenge of external and internal voices, she places herself in a posture of continuing reflection while simultaneously remaining true to the apostolic faith “once delivered to the saints”. So also we would expect this to be true of the faithful who gather together and make Grace By the Sea their spiritual home. Because we value, so also we commit as a congregation to:
I. THE SUPREMACY OF GOD:
We affirm one God, self-revealed as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who has invited us to share eternally in divine fellowship as His adopted children (MT 28:19; 2COR 13:14; 2THES 2:13-14). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- We put no other “gods” before Him, loving Him with our whole being with a passion unrivaled by any thing else (IS 45:5).
- We proclaim and demonstrate the Father heart of God for all His children, especially the lost.
- We decline all proposals to modify or marginalize the reality and/or names of the triune God.
II. THE CENTRALITY & SOVEREIGNTY OF JESUS:
We affirm His perfect life, atoning death, and bodily resurrection; by faith in Him through the Holy Spirit we have access to our Father in Heaven (EPH 2:4-10); His blood alone cleanses us and makes us acceptable to God (ROM 3:21-26). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- The person of Jesus and His Name is exalted.
- All come to a saving relationship with Jesus, follow, and abide daily in Him as Lord.
III. THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
We affirm that only through the new birth effected by Him are we enabled to be the Church, the Body of Christ in the world (1COR 2:14); through this new birth in Christ we are baptized, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit for the work of the Kingdom (MK 1:8; 1COR 12:1-11). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- Our personal and corporate worship is Spirit- directed.
- Believers are released by the Spirit into ever deepening levels of holiness.
- All believers learn of their giftedness in the Spirit and are prepared to exercise the spiritual gifts for ministry in an orderly and tested manner for the common good. “Everyone gets to play.”
IV. THE REALITY OF THE FATHER’S KINGDOM:
We affirm that in the person of Jesus the Kingdom of God has been established (LK 11:14-20); the Second Coming of Jesus will bring this Kingdom to fulfillment. In anticipation of that day the authority of the Kingdom of God is to be lived out and expressed in each believer (1COR 2:4-5; 2TIM 1:7). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- The work of the Kingdom is to be done in our midst as the Father, through His Spirit gives direction.
- We daily take up the cross of Christ and attempt to destroy the Kingdom of darkness in whatever form it manifests.
V. THE HOLY SCRIPTURE:
We affirm God’s written Word as foundational to understanding all that is true regarding the Christian life (2TIM 3:14-17). It is inspired and authoritative, true, trustworthy, and coherent. It declares all that is necessary for salvation. It is living and powerful as God’s guidance for belief and behavior, transcending both cultural and generational boundaries. Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- We “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” God’s sacred Word.
- Our teaching is centered in the exposition of the Word of God so as to prepare God’s people for works of service (EPH 4:12).
- We do not interpret scripture in the light of our experience; we interpret our experience in the light of scriptural truth.
VI. THE BODY OF CHRIST:
We affirm the Church to be the community of believers, justified through faith in Jesus Christ, incorporated into the risen life of Jesus Christ, and set under the authority of Holy Scripture as the word of Jesus Christ (EPH 3:10-21; 1TIM 3:15). We understand the true nature of the church to be at once holy, catholic and apostolic. It is therefore a priority that:
- Our church is charismatic, sacramental, and evangelical in expression.
- Our church be always prepared to examine in the light of scripture new forms and structures which might provide more vital expression of the Gospel message and the means through which it is lived.
VII. OUR ANGLICAN HERITAGE:
We affirm the Anglican Christianity that gives expression to the traditional faith and order of the catholic church, immediacy of approach to God through Christ, and freedom of intellectual inquiry. Believing in the principle of accountability we willingly submit ourselves to Episcopal authority in all things godly. Therefore:
- We offer the sacraments as effectual signs of grace for those who worthily receive them by faith (non sacramentum sine fides).
- The Holy Eucharist is our central act of worship.
- We offer all our worship in an orderly manner while respecting individual diversity.
VIII. THE MINISTRY OF ALL BELIEVERS:
We affirm that the primary function of ordained ministry is that of equipping God’s people for works of service; the work of the ministry is given to the people of God (1 PET 2:9; EPH 4:11-12; JAS 5:16). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- The church is to produce and empower disciples who will fulfill the Great Commission.
- We honor and encourage human creativity, diversity and giftedness.
IX. THE FELLOWSHIP OF ALL BELIEVERS:
We affirm that unity through loving fellowship within the local church as well as within the Body of Christ is the prayer of our Lord (JN 17:20-23); difference between denomination should never become an obstacle (1JN 1:9-11; 4:1-3; 1 COR 3:1-9). Our identity in Jesus Christ should always take preeminence over our particular denominational affiliation. Therefore we consider it a priority that:
- We encourage cross-denominational events that will promote the faith.
- We will share all that has become blessing to us at Grace By the Sea.
X. THE FAMILY:
We affirm those relationships ordained by God to be the focus of love, intimacy, personal growth and stability which provides the essential foundation for Christian living (PROV 6:20-23). Therefore we consider it a priority that:
- Husbands and wives understand God’s blueprint for marriage and family life (GEN 2:24; EPH 5:21- 23; COL 3:18-19; 1COR 13:4-7) as establishing essential witness to the society in which we live.
- Parents must take the primary responsibility for nurturing their children in Christ and for exercising God’s spiritual and protective authority over them (DEUT 6:4-7; COL 3:20-21; EPH 6:1-4).
- The congregation must respond with sensitivity and support to the special needs of single parent families and victims of family breakdown.
- We become involved in the ministry of reconciliation whenever we become aware of brokenness in any marital relationship. (MT 5:31, 19:3-9; 1COR 7:10-17; 5:18-20).
- We uphold through teaching and counsel the scriptural principle that believers be yoked only with believers in the intimate one flesh covenant of marriage. (1COR 8:39; 2COR 6:14-18).
XI. THE INDIVIDUAL:
We affirm that God made human beings in His image so that they might glorify and enjoy their Creator forever. Since the fall, sin has alienated us all from God and disorders human motivation and action in every area of our lives. (1TIM 5:1-2; EPH 2:10, 5:21). Therefore, we consider it a priority that:
- The ministry to which God has called us enables each person to embrace wholeness and live a genuine humanity in the company of God’s redeemed people.
- We accept all persons as to their God-given uniqueness yet without confusing this acceptance as approval of lifestyle.
- We respect, preserve and nurture the dignity of every human being including those as yet unborn.
XII. BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP:
We affirm that each of us is a steward of the natural and the spiritual life we have received from God. Baptism should lead to or signal a serious decision to follow Jesus and assumes active involvement with a congregation of God’s people; all who are baptized are called to offer their lives and substance for the work of the Kingdom (1COR 6:19-20; ROM 12:1-2). Therefore we consider it a priority that:
- All members of the congregation understand the Biblical pattern of financial support for the Church which is the testimony both of God’s ownership of all things and of our faith in His provision.
- All members of the congregation be committed to personal spiritual discipline as well as ongoing discipleship through nurture opportunities and ministry involvement.
- Leadership in the local Church is reserved for those who are demonstrating maturity in all aspects of the Christian lifestyle.