The Church of the Atonement is a community of disciples seeking to grow in faith and in love towards God and our neighbors.
Worship on Sunday (11 am) is the central part of our life together. We follow the pattern of worship that has been used by Christians since ancient times. In other words, if you've seen Catholic or Episcopal liturgies then we will look similar.
We are a people who are constantly being renewed by Jesus Christ. We aren't perfect. But we put our faith and trust in a God who is gracious and forgiving. That gives us hope for a new day.
Reconciling In Christ
What it means
Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregations publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into the life and ministry of the church. They are accepted onto a national roster maintained by ReconcilingWorks after adopting an affirmation of welcome at the full congregational level. Other denominations use "Open and Affirming" or similar terms to describe the same concept.
What's in a name?
The full name of our congregation is quite a mouth full. And we realize that it may raise some questions - especially that first word. So we thought that we would put together a description of what we mean when we say that we are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement.
As we mentioned above, we know that the term "evangelical" raises the most questions for people about who we are - especially as the term as gained a more widespread usage in media to describe a more specific group of Christians in America like Jerry Fallwell, Jr and Franklin Graham. If you have had a chance to read our welcome statement, or even glanced at the Reconciling In Christ section above, you might be noticing that we are a little different than many evangelicals mentioned in the media. The term also has a historical usage. It's simply the historic term for Lutherans, and Protestants in general, in Europe. As a result, our denomination is also called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (we aren't always good at naming things). So, we kind of just inherited it. But, for us, the most important reason is this: "Evangelical" literally means having to do with the Gospel, which means Good News. In a nutshell, we believe that this good news is found in Jesus Christ's life, teaching, death, and resurrection. And we believe this is the gospel truth: God loves you, whoever you are - and we want you to know that. So, we continue to use Evangelical in our name because of that. For us is has nothing to do with American political discourse and everything to do with God's radical love for you.
This term is kind of like a short cut description of what we believe and an indication of how we try to embody being Church. You don't have to be Lutheran to be participate in our community; but it does mean that our theology (how we talk about God) will be flavored as Lutheran. So what do Lutherans like to talk about? Three main points form the center of our God-talk:
- We aren't trying to find God; God comes to us.
- God meets us even in the margins, edges and broken parts of our lives.
- We think God has a vision of how we ought to live. Jesus summed this up as loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We think that God not only wants us to do these things, but equips us to do them.
Church is a curious word. Originally it was a ancient term that meant civic assembly (Greek: ecclesia). "Church" for us is a way of describing what kind of community we are and what we strive to be. Like the ancients, we assemble. We follow the historic pattern of worship which seeks to embody participation by the whole assembly and centered on 4 principle parts:
- Gathering - we are brought together, remembering our baptism and hearing the pronouncement of God's forgiveness and renewal.
- Word - we hear from the Scriptures; the ancient stories that the people of God have held so near and dear to them.
- Meal - we celebrate the meal of the baptized through which God is again in our presence to shape us as God's own people.
- Sending - we are sent forth from the assembly to be witnesses of what God has done, is doing, and promises yet to do in the world.
"Atonement" literally means the state of being at one: At-One-Ment. The point of God becoming a human being (God comes to us) in Jesus Christ is to also make us one with God. The Nicene Creed says, "For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven." The Gospel of John says, "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. " To talk about the Atonement is to talk about how we are made friends with God. That's more of that good news we talked about above. And that's what we are all about.