We are a church that believes people ought to think for themselves. While we have certain core beliefs that define us as a community of faith, to be a member here does not require you to check your brain at the door. So learning about our faith is not a one-way street where you bring the questions and we provide the answers.
We believe that faith is more about “living the questions” than it is about having pat answers to life’s complicated issues. In fact, mature spirituality has more to do with holding the opposites in tension than it does with resolving them once and for all. In community we learn about the roots of our faith, we deepen our spirituality and we engage in activities that help us “practice the presence of God” as we grow in relationship to the sacred. And all of this leads to action in the real world.
Over the years, however, we have developed several statements that define our core beliefs and what we believe God is calling us to do and be.
Our Congregational Mission Statement
In 1992 our congregation spent considerable time grappling with the question “What is the particular mission that God is calling this congregation to?” After lots of meetings and some good heart-to-heart struggles, we came up with the statement below. We’ve reviewed it several times since and though much has changed since then, we still think that it expresses pretty well what we’re about.
As followers of Christ, we believe that we are called to God
to be a community of faith
characterized by love, acceptance and celebration,
to nurture and challenge each other to grow in the spirit,
so that we will minister, individually and collectively,
by sharing the love, joy and hope of Christ,
and by risking action in the creation of a just and compassionate world.
A Congregational Statement of Faith
A few years ago, First United went through a careful process of study and dialogue with a view to becoming an “affirming congregation”. That means declaring ourselves to be a church that is fully accepting of GLBTQ persons. We did decide to become an Affirming Congregation in 2004. As part of that process we were required to develop a new Statement of Faith that expresses our chosen inclusiveness.
We, the people of First United Church in Salmon Arm, are committed to creating a community where all people are welcome regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, differing ability, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic situation or any other characteristic or circumstance. We trust that God will continue to ensure that we share our faith and our gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community.
A Song of Faith
If you’d like to dig deeper still, you will enjoy reading a more lengthy document called “A Song of Faith”. Our understanding of our faith has evolved throughout history and is evolving still. Many voices in the United Church thought it was time to formulate a new statement of our core beliefs in contemporary language. This is no easy task, given the diversity of understandings within our denomination. The result, however, has met with almost universal acclaim. The writing team chose to use a poetic expression as they thought it a more appropriate vehicle to express what cannot be captured in purely intellectual language. You will probably find the result both beautiful and informative.
We hope you don’t find all these statements too overwhelming or confusing. Taken together they probably evoke as many questions as provide answers. But lots of thought has gone into each statement and together they probably give you a good idea of what we believe.