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St. Paul’s United Church of Christ: Heritage and Denomination

Our Heritage — German Reformed Church

United Church of Christ emblemSt. Paul’s has its roots in the rich tradition of the German Reformed Congregations. While the independent Congregationalists had been struggling in New England to recover and maintain biblical faithful ness, a stream of German and German-Swiss settlers-farmers laborers, trade and craftpersons, many "redemptioners" who had sold their future time and services to pay for passage, flowed into Pennsylvania and the Middle Atlantic region. Refugees from the waste of European wars, their concerns were pragmatic. They did not bring pastors with them. People of Reformed biblical faith, at first sustained only by family worship at home, they were informed by the Bible and the Heidelberg Catechism.

In 1798, the Reformed Congregation had collected enough money to proceed with the erection of a stone church, as the Presbyterians had done at Silver Springs 15 years earlier.  The cornerstone of a union church was laid, called "Church of Peace", "Frieden's Kirche", "Salem" or "Peace" Church.  Preachers of all denominations had the privilege of preaching there.

The Union Church, Mechanicsburg was erected in 1825 - three years before the town was incorporated, - a property given by Martin Rupp.  Reformed services were conducted on Sunday evenings.  Records at this point was somewhat sketchy.

In the Spring of 1863 the Reformed Congregation at Mechanicsburg was officially organized.  The Rev. John Ault began his ministry among several churches, one being "Old Peace Church".  During his pastorate the congregation flourished and decided that they could accomplish greater things in a church building of their own.  In 1864, a lot was secured and a cornerstone laid for a church of worship known as St. Paul's Reformed Church.

Through the next 150 years, St. Paul’s has grown to its present church facility which incorporates not only a large sanctuary, but an educational wing and a fellowship hall.  The congregation of more than 500 is active in not only the Central Pennsylvania Community but also ministries throughout the United States and around the globe.

Our Denomination — The United Church of Christ

That They May All Be One

The United Church of Christ (UCC) was founded in 1957 as the union of several different Christian traditions: from the beginning of our history, we were a church that affirmed the ideal that Christians did not always have to agree to live together in communion. Our motto - “that they may all be one” - is Jesus’ prayer for the unity of the church and part of our logo. The UCC is one of the most diverse Christian churches in the United States.

Theology: Testimonies, Not Tests of the Faith

The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The UCC has roots in the “covenantal” tradition — meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.

Our Faith Is 2000 Years Old, Our Thinking Is Not.
The United Church of Christ believes that the revelation of God is not locked in the past, but continues today. The God Is Still Speaking ad campaign, initiated during Advent of 2004, proclaims that belief.

 

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