As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do solemnly covenant together that denying all ungodliness and every worldly lust, we will walk in all our ways according to the precepts of the Gospel and in sincere conformity to its ordinances.
We unite together into one body as a church of Jesus Christ for mutual edification and for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom.
We promise to submit to its order and discipline, to labor for its peace and purity, and to walk together in love.
What is Congregationalism?
The Congregational Way of being a church is based on the teachings and practice of the America's early English Pilgrims. Arriving in America in 1620 seeking religious and economic liberty and often equated with the first thanksgiving, the “Puritans,” believed that the commitment we have to each other is more important than every point of doctrine. In short our ‘Way’ can be summed up in three words: Faith, Fellowship, and Freedom.
Faith: Theologically Congregationalism stands in the English Reformed tradition: centered on Christ, holding to the Bible, and to the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, we are classical Christians. Within the gathered people, Christ is seen as the head of the Church and the members (his body) work together in equality and charity.
Fellowship: Congregational Churches are formed when individuals, called of God to follow Christ, gather together and write a Covenant or promise to be faithful to God, to each other, and to the community they serve. Members join the Church by "owning" or agreeing to the Covenant, rather than assenting to a prescribed set of doctrines. When the local community gathers it is considered ‘complete’ in the body of Christ. Really, there is no such thing as a “Congregationalist” there is only a follower of Christ that seeks to live in covenant with other Christians.
Freedom: Freedom of thought; Freedom of Conscience; Freedom of Governance. Church members are expected to use their freedom of conscience and live by the teachings of Christ. Early on the Congregationalists wanted their meeting houses to be places where people could bring their heads in along with their hearts and be centers of theological thought and debate. Freedom of thought, the ability to read, to hear, to think and to respond is an important part of our life together and our Way of being Church. Freedom of governance also extends to each local Church since each Congregational Church is autonomous, in that it calls its own Minister and governs itself. The members of the Congregation elect lay leaders. Each member of the Congregation has a voice and a vote.
So what are Congregationalists? Congregationalists are classical Christians who hold to the idea that the local groups of covenanted believers (pledging to support and care for each other in their faith and life) is the most ancient and authentic way to approach the task of being Christ's body in the world.