Why We Exist
The goal of the church isn’t to produce ‘good’ people. The goal of the church is to make disciples of Jesus. It’s an important distinction. There are many ‘good’ people in the world around us, who are off chasing their own goals and ambitions. But those who are committed to Jesus have given up this self-direction and are following his Spirit's direction. They are enrolled in his trade school and are becoming his apprentices. Our church is part of God's trade school, and plays a crucial role in helping others become more like Jesus.
What is Important to Us
As Presbyterians, we believe in the triune God. In other words, God is one God, yet revealed in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that the Bible is the written revelation of who God is. It is important to gather weekly for worship and to also regularly experience the sacraments of communion. Baptism is seen as a visible sign of God’s promise to God’s people.
God is triune
Belief in the Trinity — God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — is central to the faith. God is the Father to whom we come, the Son through whom we come, and the Spirit by whom we come.
The doctrine of the Trinity arises from all that the Bible tells us about God as the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer. The New Testament writers portray Jesus through his words and actions as divine and the Son of God. (See John 1:1-3,14; Colossians 2:9, and Hebrews 1:1-3.)
The Bible inspires and guides us in what we believe and how we live. Presbyterians think of the Bible as the written Word of God. They consider it the most authoritative source for faith and practice. The writers of the Bible were guided and inspired by God to record events and God’s instructions. By reading the Bible, succeeding generations know what God has done and what God requires.
Scripture is partly shaped by its particular historical and cultural circumstances. We are also conditioned by our own time and culture. We bring to Scripture our own presuppositions. The task of joining text with reader involves four major components that are constantly interrelated.
- We are prompted by the Spirit working on our experience to listen afresh for God’s Word witnessed to in Scripture.
- We seek to understand the Bible in its original historical setting, recognizing the variety of material it contains.
- We look at the biblical material as a canonical whole. The dangers of quoting isolated proof texts are well known. We look for the underlying unity and diversity, continuity and discontinuity in Scripture, paying particular attention to the relationships between the Old and New Testaments.
- We bring the biblical materials to bear on our contemporary situation. The gift of discernment is especially needed here. We must pray for the guidance of the same Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture.
Worship and the Sacraments
Worship gives Presbyterians an opportunity to praise, listen, and respond to God. Most congregations organize the worship service into four parts: gathering, listening, thanking, and going. These parts are expressed in terms like: Gather in God’s name; Proclaim the Word of God; Give thanks to God; Go in God’s name.
In worship we celebrate two sacraments – Baptism and Communion. Baptisms happen at many points of the church year. Traditionally, Communion was celebrated four times a year, but more and more Canadian Presbyterian churches offer it more frequently – monthly or even every Sunday. Both Baptism and Communion are visible expressions of the gospel given as a way to enter and encourage Christian growth.
Baptism can occur at any age in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. It occurs in conjunction with a profession of faith and admission to church membership. Believing parents bring their child for Baptism and promise to raise their child to love and serve God. The entire congregation promises to support the child. Usually the minister pours or sprinkles water on the person’s head in Baptism. The waters of Baptism symbolize refreshment, cleansing, new life, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Because Baptism is seen as an act of the whole church and a sign of church membership, Baptism always happens in the presence of the worshipping congregation.
Communion, the breaking of bread and drinking of wine or grape juice, reminds us of Jesus. In Communion we are united with Jesus and with each other; we are strengthened to go out into the world as a “symbol of hope for a troubled age.”
At St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church children are welcome at the Lord’s Table.
Reaching out and Serving
The Christian church exists for others. We believe that our faith is alive through our actions of service (James 2:14-26). In Presbyterian churches we find evidence of activities that build community and reach out to serve others.
Presbyterians believe that Jesus came into the world to demonstrate God’s concern for the world and its people. We recognize Jesus’ challenge to follow him (Luke 9:23) and his final commission to us (Matthew 28:19). In congregations, people of all ages learn to heal and care for each other. They are active in mission and worship beyond their own congregation’s activities – in politics, economics, social structures, the environment, and the world of human needs. As Christians, we go into the world and try to make it more like God’s kingdom.
Presbyterians believe God interacts with all aspects of our lives. One of the clearest messages for us in our daily living is found in Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
*This material is taken from The Presbyterian Church in Canada website: www.presbyterian.ca/about/more/