Scroll down to find information on the following:
- Why we have a Covenant
- The Text of the Current Covenant
- The Annual Covenanting Service
Why we have a Covenant
It is the opinion of this Church and a long established principle of Baptist life, that a local church exists where a group of people make a Covenant agreement with one another to live out the meaning of their baptism in association with one another, sharing their lives, worship and ministry together. This differs from many other Christian traditions who see the local church as existing wherever there is an ordained priest ministering under the authority of the particular church institution.
In 1998 our church nearly died. The aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal within the congregation left us feeling so betrayed and disillusioned that our congregation fell apart. At that time, a group of people saw the need to make some very definite commitments to one another in order to ensure that our church had (and deserved!) a future. Thus, our Church Covenant was born. Each year we renegotiate the details of the Covenant and those who wish to do so commit themselves to living by its call for the next year.
We now see that unless there is a group of people making such commitments to one another, then there really is no church. Some of those involved in the life of our church do not commit themselves to the Covenant, but it is recognised that they can only be involved in this church because there are people willing to commit themselves to ensuring that it exists.
The Text of the Current Covenant
You can find a more decorative and printable version of the Covenant here or just read the text as follows:
for the year to the Church Anniversary, 18th June 2017
Called together by God as the body of Christ and as a sign of his coming kingdom, by the power of the Holy Spirit we commit ourselves to love one another and to follow Jesus in a shared life of faithful commitment to God’s call.
We are called into COMMUNION with God and with one another:
- to celebrate each week around the Lord’s Word and Table;
- to gather regularly to eat, play, work, sing and pray together; and
- to offer to God the worship of us all.
We are called to OFFER OURSELVES to God and one another:
- to welcome and honour all who would journey with us;
- to seek reconciliation across anything that divides us; and
- to contribute our share of the work and financing of our life, prayer and ministry.
We are called to attend to the VOICE of God:
- in scripture reading and prayerful silence;
- in creation and human creativity;
- in the stranger, the outcast, the broken, and the little ones; and
- in one another.
We are called to EAT AND DRINK as a sign of the hospitality of God’s reign:
- to eat together at our Sunday gatherings;
- to share with others over drinks or meals; and
- to consume responsibly and give generously.
We are called to NON-CONFORMITY with the ways of the world:
- to resist all greed, selfishness, infidelity, violence, and exploitation;
- to allow God’s ways to shape our ways; and
- to confess that we are entangled in sin, and need help to break free.
We are called to be AMBASSADORS for Christ, sent into the world he loves:
- to live like Jesus, loving our enemies, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, standing up for the oppressed, welcoming the outcast, and proclaiming the new culture of God;
- to represent and promote Jesus’s values of life, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, and sustainable stewardship in the places where we live, work and play; and
- to allow God to call and send us into new areas of mission and ministry.
We are called to NURTURE faith and growth in ourselves and others:
- to look for and nourish the seeds of love and grace;
- to cultivate the practices of Jesus-centred spirituality and discipleship;
- to feed the voice of hope, yet listen to the voice of despair; and
- to surrender ourselves to God, trusting God to hold us when we cannot hold ourselves.
We are called to live THANKFULLY:
- to cultivate a heart of gratitude, looking for the blessings in all things; and
- to take every opportunity to be or bring a blessing to others.
Thus called, we enter this covenant, gratefully acknowledging that it is only by the grace of God that we can do anything.
The Annual Covenanting Service
Each year, as we celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our church in 1854, we re-form the church by renewing our covenant in a special liturgy around a celebratory meal. You can read the text of the liturgy for that service here.