First United Church Organizational Structure
What is Baptism ?
What is The Lord's Supper ?
What is Marriage in Christian Tradition ?
How Do I Join The Local Church ?m
Organizational Structure of This Local Church:
The Bible does not lay out step by step how a church is to be ordered. The Bible does tell us that order is necessary however. The Epistle of II Timothy lays out qualifications for leaders of which the Bible names three offices. Elder, Deacon, and Teaching Elder. Paul speaks of worship in general terms of being that act of believers gathered together to offer Prayers, Hymns/Psalms, Confession, Reading of Scripture, Preaching ,the Celebration of the Lord's Table (Communion), and Baptism. Worship is the act of glorifying God. True worship must have essential elements such as Preaching , Reading the Word of God (including Gospel), Prayers and Psalms, and Celebration of the Lord's Supper (Baptism as well). Here at First Church we are organized with these essentials in mind.
Our form of Government may be considered Presbyterial Meaning: Elder/Overseer). The History of First Church notes this form of Government in its Evangelical and Reformed heritage. Although we are not as democratic as Congregational government, we are not ruled by Episcopal forms of government (Bishops) either. We may be considered between Congregational and Presbyterian in that the congregation has a say in what will finally be done at First Church. In reality we may be seen as representational. Presently our congregation is in the process of reviewing the functional and organizational aspects of First Church. We pray for God's leading in this time of change and renewal. Our intentions are to please God and glorify Him through a proper and Biblical form of government.
CONSISTORY: The heart of First United's governing body is the Consistory. This board is what decides matters of business and concerns of the church as a whole. Various ministries are represented through Consistory such as:
Board of Christian Education : Plans Sunday School lessons, and events related to the education of the church as a whole.
Spiritual Council: Is the body which is called to serve as Spiritual Guides in assisting the Pastor at Communion, visiting the sick, oversight of Doctrine, oversight of new member candidates, and general well-being of the congregation. Spiritual Council Members also have matters of Discipline and review of members in terms of their being active or inactive. Members of Spiritual Council are trained and prepared to carry out their duties and are installed into their office at a Regular Sunday service of Worship. Spiritual Council training consists of Retreats, Monthly study, Bible study, practical on-hands learning such as leading a Bible class or Elder's training class, and formal readings in Church leadership, doctrine, and Evangelism.
Deacons: Deacons carry out the ministry of care and compassion. They also deal with monies and care of the Physical operations of the Church in terms of disbursements of monies for needy and those in distress. Deacons are also trained in their role.
Altar Committee: Altar committee has charge of the physical appearance of the Church. The seasonal decorations and liturgical colors. They see to it that the front of the Church is presentable and attractive as well as appropriate for various occasions of worship. Flowers and other special decorations is in the care of Altar Committee.
Task Force: Task force carries out activities which focus on fund raising. Dinners such as Turkey Dinner, Hungarian Dinner, Bazaars, and various other activities which promote fund raising are involved here. They also sponsor a Candle Light Bowling night and Dinner Dance. (see events)
Memorials: Deals with the distributions of monies aimed at specific memorials such as the purchase of Bibles and other needs of the church as requested and or otherwise given to the discretion of memorials.
Buildings and Grounds: Manages the Physical building including the Church Building and Parsonage. Repairs and improvements are among the many responsibilities B&G carry out.
Music: Decides the music for choir and various special worship services such as Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. This board also decides the regular music for Sunday services in terms of the Anthem, Introit, Choral Benediction, and much more.
Evangelism: Evangelism outreach is the sharing of the Gospel with all. We do this in a number of ways. Service in Jesus' name to the larger community. Soup Kitchen outreach, Children's Gift Give-a-way, Shoe Box ministry, First and Third Sunday Lunches after worship, Bible Study, and personal training in how to share our faith. We are presently presenting the program, 'Contagious Christians', and hope to develop leaders who will work on providing ways to share Christ through various programs of the Church. We are made the year 2013 the year of Evangelism for First Church.
First Church may therefore be understood as being served by: Teaching Elder (Pastor), Spiritual Council Members, and Deacons. Representation is through various ministries as they sit on Consistory. Congregational involvement is through representation of boards as well as Called Congregational Meetings and an Annual meeting held each year in January.
In keeping with the Protestant Tradition, we hold there are two sacraments as taught in Scripture By Jesus; Baptism and The Lord's Supper (Communion).
What is The Lord's Supper? (Communion): Communion is Served every First Sunday of the Month, unless otherwise noted.
Communion is open to all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and desire to celebrate with the Body of Christ. Those who do not confess Christ are invited to remain in the service during the celebration of the Lord's Supper. It is not suggested that those who have not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior take part in the Lord's Supper. It is suggested that all who do confess Christ Jesus , nevertheless, check their conscience before partaking and thus preparing themselves through prayer and confession to receive this meal of Our Lord. Members are strongly encouraged to partake of the Lord's Supper when it is served and celebrated. Shut-in will be asked if they wish Holy Communion at home. The Lord's Supper is a memorial meal whereby we obey our Savior in remembering him in his suffering, death, and glorious resurrection. While the elements of Bread and Wine remain bread and wine, we hold that Christ is present with us in the partaking of this sacred meal.
Baptisms : Baptisms are a Public celebration of the Covenant of God with his people and their Children. Baptism is never done in private but is to be held at a regular service of Worship on a Sunday morning. This act is the act of the whole body of Christ as it receives into the Covenant Community those presented for Baptism. For Children: Parent(s) should be confessing Christian(s) active in a church (if not living in the area)or the local church baptizing. If Adult: they too should be trained and aware of their responsibilities before being Baptized. Baptism in Reformed Protestant Tradition does not save a person, it is a means of grace whereby the one baptized is brought up in the Church and trained in faith by Parents and those in office within the Church. All Baptized members and non-members are under the care of the Church and have all rights granted them of the pastoral care of the local church. The mode of baptism is commonly by sprinkling, but full emersion of adult members (believers Baptism) is also acceptable if requested. Those wishing to be baptized or have a child dedicated must be a communing member of a local church.
Will baptism save this child? No. Salvation comes through trusting in Jesus Christ as one's Savior and Lord. We do not Baptize Children for sentimental reasons nor for traditions of Church and Family. We Baptize Children because we believe the Bible commands us to do so. God promised to bless through a covenant relationship with his people both parents and their children. He said to Abraham, "I will be a God to you and your children after you". Abraham believed God's promise and devoted his children and all members of his household to the Lord in obedience to God. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant showing that God's covenant promises would pass to future generations.
In the New Testament the Apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and assured all that the Covenant promises would continue for children of believers. He said in Acts 2: 38-39. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins ... the promise is for you and your children and for all afar off - for all whom the Lord our God will call. The New Testament sacrament of Baptism is a sign of what Christ's blood accomplishes: the washing away of sin, and thus our union with him.
The water does not itself wash away sin, but rather, according to the Apostle Paul, this sacrament acts as a seal - a visible pledge of God given to the church - whereby heaven assures us that when such children as this one expresses faith in Christ, all the promises of His covenant of Grace will apply to them. Parents therefore have taken a vow to rear the child in the Covenant Community (Church) and to instruct and be instructed in Christian faith. Baptism is a seal for the whole church and is never a private matter. While it is sweet to savor God's goodness to families, sentiment is not what leads a church or parents to this holy sacrement. We baptize children in obedience to biblical teaching. God now uses this sacrament to pledge to us His faithfulness as we, in faith, devote our children in Covenant to Him.
New Members (How do I join the Local Church?) : Those wishing to join the Local church must report to the Pastor their intention to join. After attending a membership class they will be brought up before the Spiritual Council in order to meet and share with us their faith journey. The Pastor will meet with them again to talk over their intention to join and the responsibilities to the Church upon becoming a member. All those wishing to join the Visible Church as Communing Members must be ready to be taken into membership at a regular service of Worship on a Sunday morning and take their vows before the Community of Christ. Classes will cover topics such as: Bible, Reformed Theology, Christian doctrine and Member responsibilities. No one may become a member who has not first attended classes. Transfer into this church is accepted if in good standing. The Pastor is happy to talk with individuals who wish to transfer their membership from their past church to First Church.
Weddings (Christian Marriage and Family): Those wishing to become married should consult with the Pastor. It is to be the responsibility of the Pastor to guide the couple into an understanding of Christian Marriage. The Marriage of Christians is a form or type of the marriage of Christ (the groom) to his Church the Bride. Marriage is a responsibility and is blessed by God as noted when Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana. Marriage, in keeping with Biblical beliefs, is between one man and one woman. It is advised that couples consider seriously the place of regular worship and membership in a Church as they enter into matrimony. Marriage between Christians is a form of honoring Christ and His Church.
Use of Church for weddings: If the Couple getting married wishes the service to be in the church, they should consult with the Pastor and discuss fees. There is no fee for members. A fee is also required for the Fellowship Hall for receptions and for custodial services. The Pastor will notify couples of these fees. Pastor is happy to meet with and discuss marriage plans with anyone seeking information regarding weddings at First Church.