Abbey Way, A Covenant Church
The Evangelical Covenant Church is unique in its approach to its distinctiveness theologically. Inside of a creedal approach or a defined faith statement that all Covenant churches must adhere to, the Covenant unites its theology around six core affirmations: centrality of the word of God; the necessity of the new birth; a commitment to the whole mission of the church; the Church as a fellowship of believers; a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit; and the reality of freedom in Christ. These six affirmations combine to create a holistic understanding of the Christian faith experience.
Abbey Way's model of church community is based in ancient ways of doing faith community. With a strong commitment to developing a common life experience of the Gospel in its participants, the shared spiritual practices and corporate rhythms are the skeletal frame of how church is experienced. Abbey Way is a place to grow with others in Christ and deepen in one’s ability to respond to God in all of life.
CENTRALITY OF THE WORD OF GOD
The Scripture holds an unique place in the Christian faith community. It supports, informs, and guides the God's people in who they are and how they are to live faithfully before their Creator. The story of God is told to us through it. The plan of salvation is revealed in it. God's call for response is heard throughout.
At Abbey Way as we gather as for worship, we listen to God’s Word and reflect on its meaning for our lives as individuals and as a community. The children are with us in the worship gathering, hearing the scripture and reciting the psalms. As they participate in Children's Chapel, they reflect on the same passage as the adults, integrating their learning with the adults as they focus on the same portion of scripture.
A daily practice for us is praying the Divine Hours. We meditate on the words of the psalmists, reflect of the stories in the Gospels, and join our voices in the prayers of the church. Our commitment to pray in this way establishes a solid backbone of daily interaction with the scripture.
Scripture also guides our life together outside of daily prayer and corporate worship. We ask: How will God speak to us as we gather in smaller groups to study and listen to the text together? How does this text shape us and call us deeper into God? Enlivened by the Spirit of God, the text presses in on us, inviting us to become mature disciples.
The strength of the relationships between the core community members (love of Jesus manifest) and our living faith (testimony) invites and makes space for each person’s discovery of new life through Jesus. With an emphasis on developing authentic relationship among us with the Triune God as our center, through our experience of shared prayer, worship and coming to the Lord's Table, the story Jesus is spoken and shared among those present both in who we are and what we profess.
We share the truth of who God is for us through the lives we live, the conversations we have, and the extension of our selves to others. As the healthy love of a husband and wife bears the fruit of children, so too the healthy community who names the name of Jesus is a vessel of new life for others.
MISSION OF THE CHURCH
One of the hallmarks of a healthy community of faith throughout the ages has been an ability to seek God and respond to the people and situations around them. With an ear towards God’s heart and willingness to respond, Abbey Way holds in tension the nurturing of life together while opening our arms in our neighborhood, work place and world. This missional focus carried in the hearts of Abbey Way people is found also in the early pietistic roots of the Covenant Church. As we notice the movement and call of God in our lives, we want to be a people called together to serve, becoming a living incarnation of the Gospel.
FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS
Abbey Way is formed and shaped around intentional relationships as a local expression of the Body of Christ. Unlike larger churches that may struggle with relational intimacy among their members, Abbey Way size and high commitment couple together to establish a solid foundation for continued deepening in understanding of who we are together and for the world. The structure of Abbey Way supports on-going learning about forgiveness, mercy and grace in the name of Christ. Turning from the independent spirit of our culture and many of our own church experiences, the Covenant connection with its emphasis on relationship and interdependence amongst the churches helps to forge new ways of understanding what is means to follow Jesus is this age as the Church.
DEPENDENCE ON THE SPIRIT
Without the Spirit of God at work in the life of the church there is no church. At Abbey Way we emphasize listening to God and to each other as a way of learning the ways of the Spirit among us as individuals and as a community. The magnificence of the Spirit’s leading is experienced in intentional processes of spiritual direction, interaction with the scripture in “lectio divina,” and worship. As we gather as a community, we become more and more discerning, knowing who God is and how God speaks to us. To trust in the Spirit’s work to guide, correct, illuminate and heal, takes a community who is humble enough to be always learning and growing together in God’s amazing story. One of Abbey Way’s strengths is its embrace of the active work of the Spirit among us.
Abbey Way’s emphasis on common spiritual practices and corporate rhythms gives room for the principle of freedom to be exercised within the community. Our desire to grow deep in Christ enable the shared practices and rhythms to be unifying experiences, helping to establish a particular ethos and culture for the Gospel to be lived. As Christ followers, we hold these shared practices and rhythms gently, tendering them with grace as we walk with each other.
The six affirmations of the Covenant Church fit very well with who Abbey Way is and wants to become as community of faith. Constantly stretching, always calling, strongly correcting, these affirmations hold us in check with the intentions of our heart as a people of God. It is with joy we embrace the Covenant and its theological affirmations as our own.