There are a few things that are central to who we.
We are a church in the Anglican tradition. What does this mean? In short, it means that we follow a particular “way” of being merely Christian and that this “way” is highly flexible and able to adapt to local contexts throughout the world and throughout time.
Scripture — We believe that the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) are the completely inspired Word of God in their entirety. Every time that we engage with the Scriptures as individuals and as a community, the Spirit of God reveals again to us the Word of God himself, the person of Jesus Christ, who is the primary revelation of God to humanity. The Bible is composed of many different genres of literature and written by many authors known and unknown. But it is a unified story that leads to Jesus.
The liturgy (the form and method of a given way of praying and worshiping) which we use is infused with Scripture. The very prayers we pray are often taken from the Scriptures, especially the Psalms.
But we understand that the Scriptures were not collected in a vacuum, nor should they be interpreted and understood in a vacuum. The Scriptures and what they say about themselves are of supreme importance. They are our primary authority. We understand the Scriptures through the traditions of the Church, and we engage with them through Spirit-led human reflection to bring to light the deep and eternal truths about God and God’s plan for the world. Think of it like a telescope with each lens being further honed by the former lens. The primary lens is Scripture, followed by tradition, then Spirit-led human reflected.
Sacraments — We believe that we as humans are to creatively offer up the world and all that is in it to God as a blessing and to receive all of God’s creation as a gift, blessing the world with God’s very life, which we receive through the Scriptures and the Sacraments as the source and summit of our faith. One way in which we live out this relationship to God's creation is through our efforts to share meals together often. (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 2:4-10, Romans 8:18-25).
What is a sacrament? It’s an outward and physical sign of a spiritual and inward grace that brings about in reality that for which it signifies. Not only do the bread and wine signify Christ’s Body and Blood, they bring about in reality the power and efficacy of his sacrificial death on the cross for those of us who partake of them. He’s really there in the Eucharist in a mystical way. Likewise, Baptism is the sign of entering into a covenant relationship with God but also unites us to Christ in his own death so that we, too, will one day be fully united with him in his resurrection (Romans 6).
Spirit — God is on the move, and we must always be open to what God is doing. We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is active and present in the Church. From the beginning of creation, the Spirit has been known as the one who brings life out of death and order out of chaos (Genesis 1). The Spirit is manifest through signs and wonders, miracles and guidance to believers. The Spirit reveals to us where we have gone astray, showing us the things we have done wrong and the ways in which we have failed to do right. Every Sunday we offer prayers of healing both as a community and through confidential prayer ministry during Communion. It is a way of connecting more deeply with the Spirit and asking the Spirit of God to bring about life and order in a world that sometimes feels overrun with death, destruction and chaos.
Salvation — We believe that what Jesus has done for us is truly good news. It is good news for us, and it is good news for all people. That’s what both Jesus and the early Christians thought, too. Therefore we strive to share this good news with others, especially with those who are closest to us. And we share it with each other, reminding each other when we lose sight of the amazing blessing of knowing Jesus. We actively reach new people with God’s message and cultivate disciples who are trained to impact their community. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8)
Sacrifice — Following Jesus means that we are called to something greater than ourselves. That calling demands everything of us, but the promises (and our experience confirms this) of following Jesus are that we receive back more than we could ever have imagined for all that we sacrifice for him and his Kingdom. We don’t want to waste our lives but want them to count for something that will last long beyond this lifetime. We understand from Jesus that the best way to do this is to lay our lives and our possessions (including time) down for his purposes. Practically, this means that we pray for one another. We open our homes and lives to one another and to those we meet, including those who would not call Valpo “home.” We recognize that all that we have isn’t really ours to begin with but is only on loan from God for us to steward well.
This freedom from true ownership actually enables us to not be so tied to the things of this world that break, get old and die. It’s a difficult process and is honestly very hard at times. But we are able to set our eyes on things that are eternal (i.e. people) rather than on things that perish (basically everything else). However, the things that are not eternal are the things under our stewardship, and so we strive to care for and cultivate them to the best of our ability to bring about flourishing in both creation and societies.