Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
This slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
II Corinthians 4:16-18
The New Church
The New Church is
an intentional, covenant-based Christian faith community that crosses geographical lines
a church community separated by space but not by time
a church focused on creating a spiritual home and community using the tools offered by current technology
a place both virtual and real to learn, grow, and share the Christian Path
We study the teachings of Jesus Christ and contemplate their relationship to our own lives, and we worship together on Sunday mornings. We have no formal creed; we are “simply” a community of earnest seekers. This does not mean we take our faith or our beliefs lightly; it means we take them too seriously to limit any person’s spiritual path to any other person’s language or experience.
The Reverend Bruce Van Blair answered the call to shepherd The New Church in 2011, and he was our Pastor until he passed on to the next realm in 2022. Among other things, he left us with a library of sermons and other materials that offer profound insights into the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and Christianity. Bruce’s wisdom was balanced with deep humility, gratitude, and love for Christ, and it came from a lifetime of theological study, scriptural reflection, and prayer.
Bruce believed strongly in the “priesthood of all believers” (paraphrasing I Peter 2:4-10), and throughout his ministry he encouraged us to lead worship services, disciple bands, and retreats. In this spirit, we have left the Pastor position open, and the responsibility for leading The New Church is currently undertaken by its covenanted members.
Our church “building” is composed of hardware, software, and our website.
Our Worship Service and Discussion is held weekly at 10am Pacific time on Sunday mornings via Zoom video/phone conference. A different lay person leads each week, and the sermon for discussion is a Bruce Van Blair sermon emailed to folks the week before. After having the week to ponder it, we discuss it during the sermon portion of the service.
We encourage disciple bands (Bible study groups) to meet at different times throughout the week via Zoom video/phone conference.
Retreats based on decades of material from retreats led by Bruce Van Blair are offered at least once per year. Depending on circumstances, they are held online via Zoom or, when possible, we come from all over the country to gather in person.
The purpose of The New Church is to call people into worship, study, and fellowship together, in the name of Jesus the Christ. We encourage every member to seek, find, and live out their vocatio under Christ. It is never our purpose to merely study, pray, or discuss faith issues and concepts. Always our intention is to live out our faith in real life and on a daily basis. To this end, we constantly ponder the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
The New Church does not want anybody to be more welcome than anybody else. We are aware that some might disagree with many of our assumptions and stances, but we do not pretend to be inclusive, politically correct, or acceptable to all other groups, religions, or political persuasions. That said, we welcome all sincere seekers who wish to explore with us the Christian Faith and WAY of Life that Jesus invites us into. We welcome those of any race, gender, sexual orientation, or political orientation who wish to learn and grow with us in the WAY of Christ. We study the Bible earnestly and continually, recognizing that this is one of the major ways in which God addresses his people and by which God’s people respond back to God. Such study never runs dry, and it constantly inspires those who long to follow Jesus.
OUR UNDERLYING FAITH
Our Heritage. The New Church claims as its own heritage the history and light of Judaism, from which we came, and the further revelation in Jesus Christ of a New Covenant that fulfills and surpasses the Covenant on Mount Sinai. We look in hope toward the reconciliation between Jews and Christians, and indeed between all peoples and all faiths. We also admit that we have no notion how God will accomplish this or when. In the meantime we honor those who have broken past the traditions and constructs they were raised with in order to be more faithful to God: Jesus, Paul, Origen, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, John Cotton, Jonathan Edwards, and hundreds of others too numerous to name here. We therefore affirm the responsibility of The Church in each generation to understand, express, and renew the Christian Faith and to make the Christian Faith its own.
The Bible. The New Church recognizes the Bible as the written record of the most important stories, encounters, and revelations of the Covenant between God and us – that is, the written word pointing to the Living WORD behind and beyond it. We believe that living in accordance with the teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the true inspiration for our fellowship, our choices, and our hope. Each member shall have the undisputed right to follow the Word of God according to the dictates of his or her conscience, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: Our Beginnings. It is the responsibility of Christians, both as individuals and together, to study the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the highest overt authority available in matters of faith, purpose, and lifestyle of The Church. The members of The New Church are not concerned with literal, orthodox, or final interpretations of any passage. We seek the major themes of God’s message and revelation to us. We hunger to find and understand the living dialogue and confrontation that God wishes to have with us through the events, people, and proclamations in the Bible. Most of all we seek the meaning of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as it is presented in the Scriptures and as it applies to us.
Theology: Our Response to God. We have no formal creed. No single set of words are used as a test of any person’s faith. Each person is responsible for his or her own beliefs and the formation and shaping of a life to go with those beliefs. This is not to imply that we take our faith or our beliefs lightly. It is to state that we take them too seriously to limit any person’s spiritual path to any other person’s language or experience. We seek unanimity of spirit in matters of belief and purpose through the sharing of every member’s authentic search for and experience with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit and Prayer: Our Faith. We are of the conviction that God has a specific plan for each person’s life which can be found and followed, however haltingly and imperfectly, in obedience to the guidance and insights that come in prayer. We hold this conviction to be true of The New Church as well as each of its members. Therefore it is our purpose to attempt to find and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading both individually and together. The Holy Spirit outranks Scripture, even as the Holy Spirit has always preceded and inspired it.
Government: Our Life Together. We mean to keep clearly in mind in all our meetings that the will of the Spirit of God is the thing we seek more than human opinion, worldly success, or the dominance of our own ideas or desires.
The World: Our Life With Others.
We will seek to express in actions the love God has shown for us.
We have no desire to claim now or in the future that we know the totality of God’s truth. We wish to be faithful to that which God reveals to us without conclusions one way or another about what God may be asking of or revealing to others.
We respect and affirm all other groups that profess and try to act in the light of the Christian Faith, and we will cooperate with them whenever that seems in accord with God’s guidance for us.
We further respect and affirm the convictions of those who sincerely believe in other religious faiths and who conscientiously search for and/or experience some portion of God’s truth. We will seek friendly dialogue for mutual understanding and enrichment. We will share that which is true in our experience and ask others to do the same for us as we seek to grow in love for all people, as God through Jesus asked us to do.
We seek to minister to, witness to, and convert all persons who are hungry for or open to the revelation, love, and salvation of God in Christ Jesus. We do not seek members already active in other churches. but those who have the capacity for a dual membership with The New Church and another are welcome. We do not seek to convert those who are convinced and content in other religions.
We recognize that the inherent rights of free people before God and the granted rights and privileges of our citizenship in the United States of America entail a responsibility for us as long as we live here. We will endeavor to relate our lives as Christians to our lives as citizens in our community and in our country.
Bylaws, adapted from excerpts from Articles 1 and 2