Christ's Chapel Is Thoroughly Evangelical
We believe that the solution to all the problems of the human race are ultimately found in Jesus Christ, and we want others to know this. The root problem of spiritual brokenness is what the Bible calls sin. Sin has impacted every facet of every human being, affecting us profoundly. Sin blinds us to our own self-absorption and leads us to blame others' faults for our problems. It also blinds us to our need for God, and inclines us to mistrust Him. We are prone to try to build our own system of personal ethics and righteousness. This is a dead end. (See Romans 3:10-12)
The Bible teaches that this fallen condition passed down to us from our first parents could not be overcome by any of our human efforts. We were doomed to be trapped in essential fruitlessness and ultimately death, in spite of our efforts to entertain ourselves along the way. The amazing image of God in which we had been originally made had been permanently effaced, and we were without hope, whether we knew it or not.
Because of His goodness, mercy and love, God sent us a solution in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ came to teach us that God does not grade on the curve. Since we could not come to Him, He came to us. Jesus walked among us, loved us, taught us, thoroughly understood us, and lived the perfect life that was impossible for us to live. When He had fulfilled all of God's righteous requirements, He paid the price for our sins once for all through His death on the cross, purchasing for those who believe, total forgiveness and eternal life. (See Ephesians 2:1-10)
Then, to demonstrate that He was more than a martyr, but was indeed truly God in the flesh, He rose from death and later returned to heaven, from which He sent the Holy Spirit, through Whom He lives in the souls of those he has given spiritual life. (See Acts 2:22-24, Acts 1:8)
Once a person has become a child of God, a wonderful and challenging adventure begins. God empowers the will of the believer to make right choices. He enables the mind to learn and understand greater truth. He enlightens the spirit to hunger and thirst for growth in righteousness and intimacy with God. He begins the life long process of making each believer into the likeness of His Son. (See Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:28-29)
People who have been changed in this way have a message to share with those around them. The message of God's love and forgiveness has the power to change individuals, families, and the cultures in which they live. God calls us to make this message known to all who will listen. (See Matthew 28:18-20)
Christ's Chapel Is Joyously Biblical
We believe that the Bible is the word of God, written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, without error in the original documents. Because we believe this, we submit ourselves to it as our rule of faith and doctrine. Our worship service is saturated with God's word, in prayers, songs, and direct Scripture reading. We attempt to bring our lives into conformity with the teachings of Christ and the principles of living given to us in the Bible, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit as we grow in wisdom and understanding.
We honor faithful believers of the past, who at great personal cost gave up their lives and fortunes to preserve and translate the Bible into the language of the people they served. We also deeply respect the thoughtful study and exposition that has been done by those through the centuries who also loved God's word and hungered for understanding. Their writings can be helpful to us as we seek to apply Scripture in our daily lives. There is much to be gleaned from their experience in scriptural interpretation. However, the teachings of even the most impressive are not to be elevated to the status of the Bible itself.
Christ's Chapel Is Reverently Liturgical
"Liturgy" is a word that many Christians from other branches of Christ's church do not really understand. The word originally came from a Latin word that meant "the work of the people", and referred to the part the members of the congregation had in the service of worshipping the Lord. It is the name for the body of structure and procedures used in expressing our reverence, prayer and praises to Him.
A liturgical service differs from the more casual style used in many churches because the members of the congregation are actively involved in praying, praising, and responding as one. For example, there are set prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer that we all pray together at the same time. Many of these prayers have been said for centuries by faithful Christians because they are carefully worded to beautifully and reverently express thoughts that are common to us all, but which we would have difficulty putting into adequate words. Some of the prayers are from Scripture, and we delight to use the word of God in prayer. (Free prayers are also included at certain points in the service, as is silent prayer.) When we pray "together in one accord" we experience true unity as believers in Christ.
During the service we also state our faith together each week using the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, or the Athanasian Creed. These are brief biblical summaries of the necessary basics one must believe in order to have an accurate understanding of the historic Christian faith. It is good to have this frequent reminder of what we believe in a world where "anything goes".
We kneel to pray in our services when facilities permit. We stand to praise. We sit to be instructed. Because hymns are poems written to and about God, we sing them together in our services, and we usually sing all the verses, so that we get "the whole story". We also sing Psalms together. Music used in our services is meant to glorify God, not any particular performer. As we worship we are very aware of the throne room of our Heavenly Father, which we enter in spirit with humility and reverence.
For this reason, once a person has had the opportunity to "learn the ropes", liturgical worship is a blessing. Just as we are exercised and learn in aerobics classes, military basic training, and other group activities with a prescribed order, so do we in our worship, receiving active training in prayer, praise and faith week by week.
Christ's Chapel is Reformed
The reformed tradition traces its historical roots to Zwingli (Swiss), Calvin (French), and Luther (German), leaders of the reformation of the church of their day according to the teachings of the Word of God. Those out of this tradition stress the need for rigorous intellectual thought as well as faithful Christian devotion. The reformed tradition developed throughout Europe, including Scotland (Presbyterian) and England (Anglican) and spread to the Americas.
Our denomination is the Reformed Episcopal Church. We subscribe to the doctrines of the English Reformation contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. These doctrines are based on the inspired Word of God. The Reformed Episcopal branch of the Protestant Episcopal Church was established out of a concern that the heart of the reformed doctrines was being lost. The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) was established in 1873. On December 2nd of that year, four principles were declared as distinctive of the REC in contrast to the existing Protestant Episcopal Church of that day. (Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church)
Christ's Chapel Is Episcopal
Organizationally, our denomination unites its congregations under the leadership of bishops, who are subject to God's Holy Word. While recognizing that Scripture will support other forms of church government, we believe that the episcopal form is both taught in Scripture and is a most desirable form of New Testament church government. Other forms of church government include congregational (democratic) and presbyterian (elders).
The episcopal form of government emphasizes the work of the 'overseer', the bishop. The bishop oversees the work of the 'presbyter' (the pastor/teaching elder) at the local church level. The Episcopal form of government as practiced in the REC allows for local church sovereignty in the calling of a pastor, choosing board members (called the Vestry) and local church finances. The ruling bishops give oversight for confirmations, ordinations, and consistent teachings of the church, as well as arranging for gatherings of the churches in area dioceses to enjoy the larger fellowship of the church and business decisions that need to be represented at the national meetings.
Christ's Chapel Is A Church
We are a part of God's "called out ones" throughout time and eternity, referred to theologically as the 'universal church'. We are a people called out by God to do His will. "Personhood is rooted in eternity, and its end is the praise of God." [Major Themes of the Reformed Tradition, by Donald J. Kim, p.7] God's will is expressed in God's word where He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." [Matthew 28:19] Our mission in life is to do just this. The REC faces the challenges of today with supreme confidence in the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We proclaim a message, which, in apostolic days, changed a pagan world. In the 16th century, this message confronted the corruption and dead formalism of the church at that time and ushered in the Protestant Reformation. Today, it remains the one power that overcomes the fears, frustrations and sins of the human heart and offers the power of God to all who believe. As Christ's ambassadors for our time here on earth we are to preach the Gospel of our risen Lord and live lives that show His renewal.
Declaration of Principles
Adopted, December 2, 1873
I. The Reformed Episcopal Church, holding "the faith once delivered unto the saints," declares its belief in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God, as the sole rule of Faith and Practice; in the Creed "commonly called the Apostles' Creed;" in the Divine institution of the Sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; and in the doctrines of grace substantially as they are set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
I. This Church recognizes and adheres to Episcopacy, not as of Divine right, but as a very ancient and desirable form of Church polity.
III. This Church, retaining a liturgy which shall not be imperative or repressive of freedom in prayer, accepts The Book of Common Prayer, as it was revised, proposed, and recommended for use by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, A.D. 1785, reserving full liberty to alter, abridge, enlarge, and amend the same, as may seem most conducive to the edification of the people, "provided that the substance of the faith be kept entire."
IV. This Church condemns and rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word:
- The Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity
- Christian Ministers are "priests" in another sense than that in which all believers are a "royal priesthood:"
- The Lord's Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father
- The Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine
- Regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism.