What does “Reformed” mean?
The word “Reformed” essentially means “biblical.” During the Middle Ages, the Christian church in the west became increasingly corrupt in its beliefs and practices. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the church experienced a great reformation, being reformed according to Scripture. The term “Reformed” refers to the biblical standards confessed during the Protestant Reformation.
As a Reformed church, we seek to be biblical in everything: our beliefs, how we worship, and how we live. We believe that Scripture alone is our only guide for faith and life. We believe that we are saved from sin and God’s eternal wrath by God’s grace alone, which is received not by our good works, but through faith alone in Christ alone. We believe our worship and life is now to be lived to the glory of God alone.
To summarize the doctrines of the Reformation and the truth that unifies us, we confess the “Three Forms of Unity, which are the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort. We wholeheartedly believe these confessions, which, along with the creeds of the ancient church, faithfully summarize “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
What are your worship services like?
Worship services at Living Hope URC are reverent, simple, and biblically saturated. We gather together at 9:30am and 4:00pm every Sunday not to be entertained, but to meet with God and receive from him through the preaching of his Word and the administration of his sacraments. In worship, we enter a dialog with God, in which he speaks to us through his Word and sacraments, and we respond to him in prayer, song, confession, and giving.
For an explanation of Reformed worship and our liturgy, go here (link to “Reformed Worship Explained”)
What are the sacraments?
The sacraments are visible signs and seals appointed by God to declare the promises of the gospel. According to the New Testament, there are two sacraments for the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Christ appointed these tangible means to comfort us as an assurance of his presence with us: ordinary water, bread, and wine. The sacraments are not magic, but signs that point us to the reality they signify: the finished work of Jesus Christ. Neither are the sacraments are not mere objects: the Holy Spirit uses them to strengthen those who receive them in faith.
For more about the sacraments, see Questions 65-79 of the Heidelberg Catechism (link).
If I am a visitor, may I participate in communion?
If you are not a member of Living Hope URC and wish to partake of the Lord’s Supper, you must be able to answer ‘yes’ to all of the following questions:
- Have you been baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, either as an infant or adult?
- Have you publicly professed your faith in Christ and embraced the Christian faith as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed?
- Are you presently a member in good standing of a Protestant church that bears the marks of a true church, that is, a local church that preaches the gospel faithfully, administers the sacraments as instituted by Christ, and has governing elders who exercise church discipline?
If you are able to affirm these questions sincerely, the elders welcome you to the Lord’s Table. We ask you to speak to the elders before the service—any greeter will be happy to point them out to you.
If you are not a member of a local church and accountable to no one, we respectfully request that you abstain from the table when you visit Living Hope. Please do speak with the pastor or an elder after the service to discuss your relationship with Christ’s church; we’re eager to discuss it with you.
Does Living Hope URC practice infant baptism ?
Yes, Living Hope URC baptizes the children of believers because they are members of Christ’s visible church and covenant people. We do not believe in baptismal regeneration or presume that every baptized child is chosen of God; rather, our children are included with us in the covenant community and brought up as disciples in the Christian faith because this is God’s design in Scripture. “The argument [of infant baptism] in a nutshell is simply this: God established his church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until he puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of his church.”
Baptized children must first profess their faith before they are admitted to the Lord’s Table. For a biblical defense of infant baptism, listen to this sermon preached by Pastor Daniel (link, sermon on Acts 2, Genesis 17, and Luke 18) or read this article.
Do you have childcare?
Yes, there is an optional nursery for children under the age of three. The Bible teaches that the children of believers are part of Christ’s visible church, so we believe that children should be included in the worship service, and not removed to a separate “children’s church.” Children are warmly invited to participate in the worship service (we don’t mind their squeals and noises!)
What is church membership?
The church is not only the place where Christ meets us in his Word and sacraments, it is also the community of believers to which the Christian belongs. Therefore, church membership is an official declaration of the believer’s union with Christ in the visible church. The New Testament has no category for “lone ranger” Christians who are not members of a local congregation. As fallen people in a fallen world, we need real accountability to elders and other Christian believers. Church membership provides us with that blessing and provides us with a place to use our gifts for the benefit of the whole body.