Unity in diversity
To write “What we believe” does not mean that every member of the parish must have the same beliefs. That would be inconsistent with our position that Christians must interpret Scripture for themselves. So the words “what we believe” describe the type of message you can expect to hear preached and promoted on Sunday mornings at St. George’s.
St. Paul was clear about this. A Christian community, which he called the Body of Christ, is the sum of its members’ gifts and abilities. We may each interpret our faith in our own way. But we value getting together and welcoming others to our community for friendship and joyful worship.
St. George’s Anglican Church Lowville espouses a “progressive (or liberal) theology” within the Anglican tradition. By this, we mean that we see ourselves as God’s people, created in the divine likeness by a loving Creator. Our progressive theology inspires the goal of developing our parish as a loving community of disciples of Jesus Christ. Our Anglican tradition shapes the style of our Sunday worship.
Our theology is broadly compatible with that of the organization Progressive Christianity. We accept the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as a doorway to greater awareness of the sacred in our lives. However, we accept that other faith traditions can offer insights into sacred wisdom. At St. George’s, we believe that everyone and anyone should be welcome in our community. Differences of race, ethnicity, social status and sexual orientation, to name a few, must never divide a Christian community. That is why we write the words, Whoever you are and wherever you are in your journey of life, you are welcome in this place in our weekly service bulletin
Coming to church on Sundays should be a joy, not a duty. The modern Anglican perspective is that we are worthy to be in God’s presence, not ‘miserable sinners’. That is why we make our Sunday worship joyful, not gloomy.
Like the followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we stress the goodness and joy of the natural world. We celebrate our physicality as part of our sacredness, which mirrors the coming into the world of Jesus Christ as Son of God.
Like us, Franciscans follow whats called an alternative orthodoxy, and reject the doctrine of Original Sin. That is the belief that we were all born sinful, awaiting and expecting punishment from a vengeful and judgemental God. The idea comes from a particular reading of the book of Genesis Chapter 3, which describes the disobedience of the mythical first people. Instead we believe that God’s Spirit of goodness and love is present within us from the moment of our creation.
Also, like us at St. George’s, Franciscans have much in common with Celtic Christians. This strain of Christianity flourished in northern Europe, before Christianity became a favoured religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century CE. At that time western Christianity took on many of the civic trappings of the Empire.
God as loving parent
We believe in a loving God. Even though God is unknowable, we have various partial “snapshots”. These include father (or parent), creator, shepherd, gardener, judge … Of these, we play down the image of judge. It makes us think of a Final Judgement at the end of time. It also brings to mind the judgemental God of the Book of Exodus. That deity not only punishes the sinner, but the sinner’s descendants “to the third and the fourth generation”. Instead, we follow the example of Jesus. He taught his disciples to pray to “Our Father”. Jesus used the word “Abba” for father, meaning Dad or Papa. The wording tells us to have an intimate relationship with the divine essence.
We commit to following Jesus Christ through the sacrament of baptism
The Anglican tradition requires us to make certain promises at our baptism. We promise to continue to pray and to attend church. We will proclaim Christ not just by what we say, but by how we live our lives. Through baptism, God calls us to bring the heavenly kingdom here on earth. We do not focus only on our personal salvation.
We also promise to respect the dignity of all people. That means to love them as much as we love ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace. The national Anglican Church has reservations over the issue of same sex marriage. However, the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, of which we are part, is clear in its commitment to full equality to all in this regard.
Our final Baptismal promise is to safeguard the integrity of God’s Creation. We commit to take responsible action to repair the effects of humanity’s disregard for the Earth, its climate and its biodiversity.
We understand the Bible as a library of books not a single volume
The Bible is the work of many divinely-inspired authors. However, their perspectives were limited by their own times and cultures. That is why, for example, the angry judgemental God and the compassionate, loving God both appear in the Bible’s pages.
Anglicans often use the metaphor of a ‘three-legged stool’ to explain how to interpret Scripture. Besides the words of the Bible itself, we should consider, the ancient traditions of the Church, and use our own intellects to make sense of Scripture and our place in the world. Because we are individuals, we can hardly expect that we will come to identical conclusions!
We believe that God’s revelation to humanity did not end when the Bible was completed. God speaks to us today, nudging us to oppose discrimination and to strive for social justice and the fair treatment of everyone.
If you want to find out more about our beliefs, browse our Sermon Blog or, if you live in our area, come and visit us. We will do our best to give you a warm welcome.