At Bury St Edmunds Presbyterian Church, we have three overriding priorities that can be summed up in three words - worship, word and welcome.
We prioritise worship because it is the central reason why we do what we do as a church. In fact, the reason why each of us are alive is to worship God. This is why our weekly meetings for corporate worship are the centre of all we do as a church. The sermons you will hear from our pulpit and pastoral care you will receive from our elders has the goal - not primarily, of making you a better person - but of making you one who better fulfils his or her ultimate purpose. We reach out to those who do not know Christ so that God may have more worshipers and so that those who know the emptiness of living for anyone or anything apart from God might have joy and peace in finally living for what they were designed to do!
We prioritise God’s Word because it is the primary way in which God communicates with us. God in His Word tells us who He is, who we are, what He has done for us, what we must believe, how we must live and much, much more. The particular form of our worship services - and we pray, our lives - is determined by the Word of God. In those services, we sing God’s Word, we pray God’s Word and the central element is the declaration of God’s Word. We want our lives, the outreach of our church and the way we welcome people as a church to be determined not simply by good ideas but first and foremost by God’s Word. We value hearing from God. We value joyful and loving submission to God.
We prioritise welcoming people of all backgrounds and ages - people with faith or without faith - because God’s Word tells us that He has given each of us value by making us in His own image, because we want men, women and children to know the joy and peace of worshiping God and because we want God to be worshiped! The two greatest instructions God gives us in His Word are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (which is part of worshiping Him) and to love others. This is why we prioritise loving those who come to our church by warmly welcoming them. It is important to us that both those who visit and those who have been a part of our church for many years feel that they are valued and loved.
Whatever the Bible says determines our beliefs and practices as a church. Our summary of the truths contained in Scripture can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Collectively these documents are known as: The Westminster Standards. These Standards were written in the 17th century at the request of Parliament to be a standard description of what the church in England should believe. Together they form a summary of the teaching of Scripture which is based upon the illumination of the Holy Spirit, thorough study and careful scholarship. They are also a summary of biblical truth which has been held by generations of Christians before us and which we hold in common with many other Christians around the world today. Although the officers of the church must agree to them in full, these Standards reflect the understanding of Scripture that directs our teaching and practice as a church.
Below you can find quotations from the Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism on various significant topics:
Please Note: WCF is an abbreviation for Westminster Confession of Faith and the numbers following the abbreviation refer to the chapter and paragraph respectively where the quotation can be found. WSC stands for Westminster Shorter Catechism.
We believe that, “at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing” [From WCF 1.1]
And that: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture:” [From WCF 1.6]
There is but one only, living, and true God….[and] In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” [From WCF 1.1 and 1.3]
> Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
> Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God
The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man's nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. [WCF 8.2]
The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him. [From WCF 8.5]
> Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
> Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
> Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
> Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.