Our Commitment to ‘Expansive Christianity’?
Southminster-Steinhauer United Church explores a progressive Christian path that seeks to expand our understanding of sacredness and broaden our experience as spiritual beings. Inspired by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, along with great wisdom teachers both ancient and emerging, we are a diverse community seeking to deepen consciousness and widen compassion. We are committed to cultivating a spirituality that nurtures values we cherish rather than beliefs we may or may not share. We seek to inspire one another to build a culture of peace and respect that cares for the community of life, and works together for social and economic justice.
The following principles express the way we approach our spirituality:
1. We centre our faith on values that affirm the sacredness and interconnectedness of all life, the inherent and equal worth of all persons, and the supremacy of love expressed actively in our lives as compassion and social justice;
2. We engage in a search that has roots in our Christian heritage and traditions;
3. We embrace the freedom and responsibility to examine traditionally held Christian beliefs and practices, acknowledging the human construction of religion, and in the light of conscience and contemporary learning, adjust our views and practices accordingly;
4. We draw from diverse sources of wisdom, regarding all as fallible human expressions open to our evaluation of their potential contribution to our individual and communal lives;
5. We find more meaning in the search for understanding than in the arrival at certainty; in the questions than the answers;
6. We encourage inclusive, non-discriminatory, non-hierarchical community where our common humanity is honoured in a trusting atmosphere of mutual respect and support;
7. We promote forms of individual and community celebration, study, and prayer that use understandable, inclusive, non-dogmatic, value-based language by which people of religious, skeptical, or secular backgrounds may be nurtured and challenged;
8. We commit to journeying together, our ongoing growth characterized by honesty, integrity, openness, respect, intellectual rigour, courage, creativity, and balance.
The Eight Points from the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity
To illustrate how we are seeking to give expression to these spiritual values in our gatherings, we are exploring shifts that move us:
- From theistic language towards expansive imagery and language; from using words and images to reinforce an understanding of God as an external being to whom we owe our worship and direct our requests for action toward language and imagery of sacredness that evoke and inspire meaning and action in us.
- From seeking wisdom only in the ‘sacred texts’ of our tradition toward engaging diverse texts from wisdom teachers, both ancient and emerging; from the idea that authority rests with only the Christian canon, and opening to a variety of sources of inspiration for living spiritual lives and acting in concert with our values;
- From reinforcing a narrative toward engaging its wisdom; from learning the stories of our religious traditions in order to reinforce belief toward exploring wisdom that might encourage our journey;
- From celebrating Jesus as ‘redeemer’ toward honouring Jesus as a teacher of alternative wisdom; moving from defining Jesus by a cosmic role in a quasi-magical divine drama toward acknowledging and learning the enduring values and wisdom that might be learned from his life and teaching;
- From prayer as praise/petition toward prayer as spiritual practice for strengthening intentions; viewing prayer as an opportunity to state resolve, strengthen our intentions, and move wisdom to action;
- From preaching as proclamation, persuasion or problem solving toward preaching as reflection and questioning; Reflection opens us to avenues of thought, even contradictory ones, allowing each participant to welcome wisdom in whatever way is needed;
- From reinforcing shared beliefs toward nurturing belonging and shared values; From creedal, biblical, closed concepts and dogma toward the exploration together of that which connects us to all humanity and as citizens of the cosmos;
- From insider religious language toward plain speech; from antiquated and church-heavy words toward ‘saying what we mean’ in words that can be understood by all, regardless of experience;
- From distinctively dressed celebrants providing leadership from a position of authority toward creating spiritual community as we sit together in the circle; our flexible seating arrangement allows for us to be in relationship with each other, sharing responsibility, while actively making room for more in the circle;
- From traditional observance of sacraments toward reframing rituals for current meaning; creating and celebrating rituals (including baptism and sharing meals) that speak to the values of the spiritual community and our journey together.
For more information, please visit us in person or contact us