Friday, November 05, 2004

Stirring the pot
In a recent post I mentioned that the Ministerial Alliance, which meets in the town where one of my mission churches is located (an hour away), has expressed interest in drafting a "Faith Statement." It is hoped that a clear statement of faith and purpose will help improve the participation of other local pastors in the alliance meetings, especially those who are reluctant to attend. Since I live an hour away from that town, I "participate" in the alliance meetings via e-mail and the rare, occasional visit. After reading the minutes of the November meeting, I sent the following e-mail to all the Ministerial Alliance members with my idea for a "Faith Statement."

5 November 2004
Dear Friends in Christ,
I appreciate being included in the Ministerial Alliance e-mailings. I do read the minutes and other mailings and I will try to offer my thoughts on subjects that arise, even though from afar. I trust everyone understands that my attendance at the meetings is not normally possible since my residence is Guymon. My inability to attend, however, should not be confused with lack of interest.
In the minutes of the November meeting I noticed the following:
"It was suggested that we draft a “Faith Statement” that would include those things of the Christian faith that are not to be compromised. ... It was agreed to e-mail to one another our thoughts of what could be included in these statements and then we would work to draft statements at our next meeting in December."
It seems we have discovered a need that is common to the experience of humanity and was certainly not foreign to even the early Church. Christ had given his apostles and disciples a commission and they soon found that they needed a clear statement of what defined them, who they were, what their work was about. I agree completely that such a statement could be useful for the Ministerial Alliance.

I think we can do no better than to at least start with what has been the basic statement of faith of the Church since her beginning -- from the very time of the Apostles. I suggest we begin with the Apostles' Creed. First, if it is not faith in Christ that gathers us, then we are no different from any other social, fraternal organization. I think it would be very valuable that a profession of faith be the first words out of our mouths. Next, if we think it helpful, we could even make additional statements about our group in particular, about this local community of faith.

Let me know what you think. Below is the text of the Apostles' Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

It is relatively short, simple and clear. I think it could serve the group well.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Hamilton

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