There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
This week’s “Derek and Rebekah go to church” excursion took us back to St. Andrews Presbyterian in North Raleigh. It’s the closest PC(USA) congregation to home (other than WFPC) so – and with their 10:30 start time – it is certainly the most convenient.
I love the architecture at St. Andrews. The sanctuary has some of the “in the round” characteristics we enjoyed so much at Wake Forest, but with the addition of features such as the wood paneling and the towering windows. Best guess, it cost way more to build!
So why Presbyterian churches? And why specifically PC(USA)? To help, here is an exchange in my “comments” section on Facebook when – in response to my first “Derek & Rebekah go to Church” post – a contact wrote:
Here’s are some ideas, sacrilegious as they may be: visit some churches of other denominations, maybe churches that are not majority white. Visit the churches that are in your community, those that are geographically closest to you. Visit a church that doesn’t meet on Sunday morning, and see how it feels to be able to worship AND have Sunday completely free of a scheduled event. Stretch your new life. And remember that everywhere the body of Christ gathers, many sinners and saints are trying the best they know how to worship God.
My response included the following:
But we love the PC(USA) and will always remain committed to supporting and strengthening the ministries of the church. As for avoiding Sundays… I don’t think I could! Too much a part of my DNA to be worshipping with the saints and the sinners on a Sunday morning. Race is not a factor in determining where we go – but we do deeply value diversity. We will absolutely not attend a church where women are not allowed to use the gifts God gave them, or where people are excluded because of the preferences and prejudices of the people in control.– Derek Maul on Facebook
First, I need to explain that we are absolutely not confused regarding the essentials of the Christian faith. We do not begin to imagine that Presbyterians have a monopoly on truth, or salvation, or being right all the time. In fact, that sense of understanding that the Gospel is far bigger than one denomination is part of why we love the Presbyterian Church so much.
At the same time, Rebekah and I take seriously our responsibility as believers to celebrate and to promote how our faith in Jesus plays out in practices such as love, grace, kindness, mission, mercy, justice, reconciliation, sharing light, righteousness, acceptance, humility, and so much more.
Because of our lifelong experience with this historic and great Christian denomination we feel deeply committed to its witness and its health.
Reformed and Alive:
While we are on the subject, here are some of the characteristics of the PC(USA) that I believe are critically important for any faith-based community – and why I believe every city, town, and village would be enriched by having a vital, alive PC(USA) church as an option for worshippers.
Before Rebekah came to WFPC, the congregation was facing the danger that it could become just another community church with an increasingly Baptist slant. Not that there is anything wrong with a Baptist Church – but that Wake Forest already has dozens to choose from! So why dilute the positive witness of the only example of a vital and Christ-saturated Reformed presence in this part of Wake County?
Here are a few of the reasons (not in order) I will always be a PC(USA) Presbyterian, and why we will continue to support the ministry of the church:
- “Energy, intelligence, imagination, and love”
- Presbyterians are “Thinking Christians”
- We have seen so many people meet Jesus at our church
- The PC(USA) is committed to a Matthew 25 understanding of justice
- We practice Christian Education that teaches people how to think theologically and spiritually, not a narrow range of what to think
- We include all people – regardless…
- I love Reformed Theology (read “Why I am a faithful Reformed (and reforming) Presbyterian“)
- Women are accepted as equal partners in spiritual leadership
- All are welcome for communion
- Scholarship is required of clergy
- Presbyterians follow Jesus, not a political viewpoint…
- (there is more but this is a post, not a book!)
Thanks, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, for being all of that and probably more – DEREK