Congregational Churches are above all else, Christian Churches. We practice the historic Christian Faith “that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NIV84) We observe the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion. We are a people of the Book. We gather around an open Bible with an open mind and a heart flooded with the Holy Spirit. We are a people of action. Congregational Ministers and lay people alike are leading the way in everything from local outreach and foreign missions and applied faith in every area of life.
Perhaps what makes Congregational Churches most unique on the landscape of American and global Christianity is our commitment to unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation. We are not the only Christians, but we are Christian only! We affirm Christ, Him crucified for sin and resurrected for eternal life! We practice an open communion table, recognizing that Christ died for the world and any who claim Christ are welcome at the table of grace. Standing firm on the central matter of Christ alone, we affirm the freedom of conscience of individual believers.
Early Congregational Reformers in England and New England in the 1600’s called this soul liberty. We embrace our heritage as people of covenant, not creed. While we have historic creeds and faith statements, we use them as guides for cultivating faith rather than tests of faith. We covenant together to support one another on a faith journey rooted in Scripture.
The key to The Congregational Way is authentic fellowship. Diversity necessarily produces division when anything other than godly love keeps people together. The Christian life is not theoretical. Only when it is lived in the context of actual covenant fellowship can it be rooted and produce fruit. (John 17:19-23) Faith, Freedom, and Fellowship are our way. You are invited to join us on this pilgrimage of faith as we travel life’s road together!
I am a member of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. We proclaim the Word of Christ and celebrate His name in all we do. We find our heritage among those Pilgrim Separatist followers of Jesus who, during the era of the English Reformation, sought a pure and simple way of following Jesus and being His Church.
We are essentially Non-Denominational in today’s terms, but we have a rooted history that gives us deep insight into the simple path, the pilgrim path, The Congregational Way.
What is a Congregational Church Historically or Generally?
Congregational Churches are vast and varied. The Congregational Churches began in England, growing out of the Puritan movement. The Congregational Way came to America with the Pilgrims. Since that time it has changed as much as America. At its core “Congregational” means local self governance of a church. As a movement, it is connected to a certain history and a “way” of relating to one another as followers of Jesus. Because of its inherent openness to “unity in diversity” one Congregational Church in the same community, even only a few miles apart geographically, may be many miles apart theologically. Mt. Hope affirms a strain of Congregationalism rooted in the Bible, salvation in Jesus Christ alone, and the proclamation of the Gospel through preaching, teaching, missions, and living as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Henry Dexter, speaking of the Congregational Way and writing in 1865 wrote, “Congregationalism has no rituals, no ceremonies, no book of discipline – nothing but the Bible in hand, the Spirit in the heart, and Christ overhead. That is all. It’s prayers, its songs, its sermons, all get their vitality from the Bible, as the seed out of which they grow; from the Holy Spirit, as the influence that makes them grow; from the Saviour as the Good Master, under whose eye, and to please whose heart, and promote whose cause, all is done.” (Congregationalism: What it is, Whence it is, and How it Works. Nichols & Noyes, Boston, 1865)
We are a people who gather together around an open Bible, with hearts full of the Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus together as we make Him known through mission, fellowship, and worship. There is always room for more among us.
Pastor Chris was the 2019 recipient of the J. J. Russell Sermon Award from the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC)