Our Beliefs

Know that achievement depends on a community of persons working together

Our Beliefs

Delineating the beliefs of an entire church is a much broader task than this brief statement here. What you will find here is a “Reader’s Digest” version of the primary beliefs that guide and shape the Reformed Church In America. Above all, our faith is “centered in Christ”. Every need of ours finds its answer in Jesus Christ.

The following confessions and creeds are statements of Reformed beliefs:
  • Three historic documents–the “Belgic Confession”, the “Heidelberg Catechism” and the “Canons of Dort”.
  • Three historic creeds–the “Apostles’ Creed”, the “Nicene Creed”, and the “Athanasian Creed”.
  • The Reformed Church in America’s General Synod approved “Our Song of Hope” in 1978 as “a statement of the church’s faith for use in its ministry of witness, teaching and worship.”

From time to time the Reformed Church In America encourages its congregations and assemblies to study confessional statements written by ecumenical partner churches throughout the world. At its 2001 General Synod the Reformed Church placed in this category the “Belhar Confession”, which originated with the Uniting Reformed Church of Southern Africa. A new “study guide for the Belhar Confession” is now available.

The final authority in the Reformed faith is Holy Scripture, the living Word of God, spoken to everyone through the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and makes it real and actual in our lives. This has always been and will always be the authentic wellspring of Reformed faith.

The following helps to explain our Beliefs about the Sacraments:

The word sacrament is based on the Latin word sacramentum, which means “something sacred.” In the early church sacramentum came to stand for many things sacred, including rites that had a hidden meaning. During the Reformation, using Scripture as a guide, the reformers limited the number of sacraments to two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

These sacraments, instituted by Christ, are a means of grace within the covenant community. They are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible and the means by which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s covenant of grace with us and our children. Baptism is the visible word of God that we are cleansed in Christ’s blood, buried with him unto death, that we might rise with him and walk in newness of life.

In the Reformed Church, baptism is always performed in the context of a congregation of God’s people. The congregation commits itself to the spiritual nurture of the infant, child, or adult being baptized. Baptism is the mark of corporate, as well as individual faith. The journey of faith that begins in individual baptism continues in the church community.

In baptism God promises by grace alone –

  • to forgive our sins;
  • to adopt us into the Body of Christ, the church;
  • to send the Holy Spirit daily to renew and cleanse us and;
  • to resurrect us to eternal life.

Through baptism Christ calls us to new obedience –

  • to love and trust God completely;
  • to forsake the evil of the world and;
  • to live a new and holy life.

The Reformed Church baptizes infants as well as older children and adults. Recognizing the symbolic cleansing and refreshing characteristics of water, the RCA affirms sprinkling, immersion and pouring as methods of baptism.

Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist, is Christ’s gift to the church.

On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with his disciples. “This is my body that is for you,” he said. “Do this in remembrance of me.” He also took a cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.

Following Jesus’ example and instruction, when the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper we receive gifts of bread and wine; we give thanks to God; we break the bread and pour the wine; we share the food and drink with each other. In these simple actions believers experience a profound mystery: Christ himself is present and his life passes into us and is made ours. As baptism is the sign and seal of our ingrafting into Christ, so the Lord’s Supper is a means by which Christ continually nourishes, strengthens and comforts us.

Through our prayers and the sharing of bread and wine we are joined to Christ and through Christ to each other. At the table we remember what God has done for us. The past event of our Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension comes into the present so that its power once again touches us, changes us, and heals us. We gather at the table with joy. Our eating and drinking is a celebration of our risen Lord. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present with us at the table and so we give joyful thanks for what God has done and is doing in our lives and in the world. We come to the table in hope. We look forward with joyful anticipation to the coming reign of God when “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Within the RCA, there is great diversity in the practice of communion. Some churches serve communion once a month, some do more or less frequently. The practice of the early church and the teaching of the Reformers of the 16th Century was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly. The Book of Church Order calls for communion to be celebrated at least once every three months, if possible. Some churches use a common cup for the wine or juice, and some use individual cups. Some churches practice intinction (dipping the bread in the wine), and some serve the elements separately. Sometimes people are served in the pew. At other times they may be invited to come forward to the table. These practical decisions are largely left to the leaders of the congregation.

At RRC the practice of communion varies among these options. We will change the format depending on the time and occasion of the service. As God’s grace comes to us in various ways, so we choose to vary the style of the celbration of grace in the life of the congregation.

Christ is the host and invites us to his table. All who have been baptized into Christ are welcome to participate in the Lord’s Supper, although local boards of elders have been given the responsibility to decide at what age and under what circumstances young children may be served.